Jesse Miranda and William Pannell often find themselves the lone representatives of their ethnic groups on evangelical boards and on speakers' platforms. Perhaps, they suggest, it represents the current state of race relations: different ethnic groups and the majority white community have made contact with each other, but as mere aliens visiting one another from far-off planets. What does it take to transform these encouraging but often facile alien encounters into true Christian relationship? The answers are complex. But because Miranda and Pannell have lived in both the white evangelical world as well as the Hispanic and African-American evangelical worlds respectively, their insights are especially worth hearing.
Jesse Miranda is head of the Alianza de Ministerios Evangelicos Nacionales, a national alliance of Hispanic evangelical ministries best known as AMEN, and is associate dean for urban and multicultural affairs for the Haggard Graduate School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University. He also serves on the board of Promise Keepers and is an executive presbyter for the Assemblies of God. Bill Pannell is professor of preaching and dean of the chapel at Fuller Theological Seminary and serves on the Taylor University board. He is also the author of a number of books, including The Coming Race Wars? (Zondervan). They met in Pasadena for this discussion, moderated by CT's Kevin D. Miller.
How would you evaluate the current state of racial reconciliation in the church?Miranda: I was watching a cable television station that was carrying a meeting of evangelicals on racial reconciliation. I was excited to see this demonstration of Christian unity. But then my phone rang, and a Hispanic leader on the other end asked if I was ...1