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Interview with Clifford Chappell

June 14th, 2010

Paul Louis Metzger interviews the Rev. Clifford O. Chappell, who serves as senior pastor of St. Johns All Nations Church of God in Christ, Portland. The interview furthers the discussion of an Opinion column that Rev. Chappell wrote for the Oregonian earlier in the year.

PLM: What moved you to write that column?

CC: I was hearing a one-sided debate in the media supporting the position that racism does not exist, and that all too much is being made of it. The Opinion piece was my attempt to speak up and state my position that racism is¬†alive and doing well in this country. I was especially moved after South Carolina congressman Joe Wilson’s outburst during President Obama’s speech to Congress, which I believe was directly rooted in racism. Former President Jimmy Carter was the only leading statesman who spoke up and addressed it as to what it was, that it “was based on racism.” He took a lot of heat but held his position and I applaud him for his stand.

PLM: What was the main point of your column?

CC: My main point was to demonstrate that racism exists in all facets of our culture. People are either aware of it and don’t know what to do anything about it, or they are in complete denial.

PLM: What types of responses did you receive to the Opinion column?

CC: I received many responses from across the full spectrum of beliefs. From very positive “Thank you for writing the article” to “It was a great article” to some very nasty and negative responses.

PLM: Were you surprised by the responses? If so, how so?

CC: No, I was not surprised at all by the responses. As indicated in the article, I am fully aware that racism is alive and well in this country and the responses only supported what I wrote. I believe that racism is still such a big issue that most people can’t even recognize it; it’s like trying to observe an elephant while standing only one foot away. It just doesn’t look like an elephant from that vantage point.

PLM: If you were to write a follow-up column, what would you say?

CC: My follow up article would be an attempt to raise the consciousness and awareness of racism. It is the lack of these sensitivities that causes people to be in denial.

PLM: As a pastor dedicated to pursuing a multi-ethnic church vision, what would you say to the blog’s readership?

CC: I recently got my wife a bouquet of flowers just to say, “Honey, I love and appreciate you.” The arrangement was a beautiful mix of assorted flowers where each enhanced the beauty of the next. As I studied them I was reminded¬†of the multi-ethnic church. If we can see our individual differences as a bouquet that enhances the beauty of our diversity instead of as something to divide us, we will begin to see the real beauty that God intended, and celebrate our diversity as we worship and serve our God.

One Saturday At Picadilly’s

September 12th, 2009

This thoughtful reflection piece from Barbara Echo-Hawk provides us a window into the world of segregation which she experienced while growing up in the 1960’s. While reading it, consider ways in which we still face segregation of various forms, and what we can do to expand our horizons and engage redemptively in the process of reconciliation in our own day.

One Saturday at Picadilly’s

Portland Network

July 1st, 2009

For the last two years I’ve been encouraging churches interested in figuring out how to be postured more intentionally to serve their neighborhoods, through bringing them together with service organizations for a monthly luncheon and ideas exchange. We started doing this after John M. Perkins visited Portland, and it brought many of us together for inspiration toward loving neighbors, ministering to ex-offenders, and seeking justice among the poor. We’ve been calling our group the Christian Community Development Network (CCDN). It has proven to be very beneficial for those of us who have met regularly. Collaborative efforts have taken place and I think most of us have received encouragement to press on in our areas of ministry. Lately though, I’m sensing from the Lord a need to increase the influence of a network like this.I wonder if there would be a way to bring together helping agencies, civic and neighborhood groups, city-minded educators, the business community, city government people, and churches (including a greater racial diversity than city networks typically have) to share their resources for collaboratively enriching our city. Could a larger network such as this create greater awareness of needs, resources, and opportunities to respond, resulting in greater potential for collaborative endeavors and ultimately greater love shown more consistently to Portland?

To do something like that would take buy-in by influential city leaders and opinion influencing church leaders whose involvement would encourage others to come together, too. That’s the piece that needs to be discerned; who would that be? And do they want something like this?¬†Jeff Spry from City Connections in Little Rock Arkansas contacted me recently. He was encouraged to do so by a representative from the Luis Palau Association. He was told I might be interested to know what they are doing. I had shared with no one at that time what I was thinking, but City Connections is close to what I have been trying to conceive in my mind. Might this be an example that we could modify for the Portland context? I wonder if the momentum toward service generated by Season of Service could move closer to “whole-lives of service” through the kind of inspiration, relationship, awareness, and collaboration opportunities a network like this could provide.Take a look at City Connections’ website and watch the intro video. Could something like this be contextualized to Portland? What if there was a simple format of a once-a-month lunch-time gathering at a consistent city-central location. One helping group or issue could be presented in about 20 minutes or so, and the rest of the time people could network, exchange information/opportunities/needs. If we could get the right people to participate, would you be interested? Would you be willing to help get the right people to the table?

I know there are many conversations going on right now about how to perpetuate service beyond a season; loving Portland, caring for those in need, cultivating a generous Church, resourcing Christian ministries that serve the city (and those are just the conversations I know about). I wouldn’t see this as another competing voice but as possibly a simple and doable way to keep the conversation moving toward outcomes. Just get everyone to the table, build relationships, inform others about what helping people/orgs/churches/groups do, who they are, what they have available and need, then see what folks might be inspired to take back to their people. Basically, it would be about setting the table for dialogue, understanding, relationship, and opportunity. That’s all; we would leave the rest to God. What do you all think?
Clark Blakeman,
Executive Director, Second Stories

From The Trenches: Three Village Church

January 22nd, 2009

Here’s a note recently received from Matt Woodley, lead pastor at Three Village Church on Long Island. ¬†What do you think of what he talks about?

This issue [of race and class divisions] has been very heavy on my heart lately. We have a little AME church around the corner from us that we have almost no connection with. ¬†I met with the pastor and tried to set up some mutual events, but he didn’t seem interested. ¬†So I talked with a friend of mine over there and he said, “Well, why should he want to do stuff with your big white church? ¬†We always invite your church to our events – MLK, Jr. celebrations, our annual harvest dinner, our annual fish fry, etc. – but you never come. ¬†So why should we start coming to your events? ¬†Just show up and start getting to know us.” ¬†Wow, that was good advice! ¬†So that’s what I’ve been doing, and I like it.

From the Trenches: Westgate Church

January 13th, 2009

Our church joined thousands of other churches this Christmas for an “Advent Conspiracy.” ¬†We intentionally went after the topic of consumerism and how it was changing the whole intention and meaning behind Christmas. Consuming Jesus was one of the primary books that helped expose me to the depths and the seriousness of the consumer culture in our church and the need to step forward in changing this trend. I am so grateful for the information of this book and how God used it in our community to spur us on to love and good deeds.

Our community raised just under $40K dollars that will be given away to meet basic needs of shelter, water and food. This does not count several thousand more that families elected to give in their own name towards humanitarian relief somewhere in the world. Thanks Paul, for your work and the effort to couch the issue biblically and convincingly. It was a timely nudge in the hands of the Holy Spirit to move us towards “taking back” OUR HOLIDAY!

Steve Clifford
Lead Pastor, Westgate church
San Jose

    Drum Majors for Love, Truth and Justice

    March 12th, 2008

    Another recording of Drs. Perkins and Metzger speaking at Imago Dei Community, in Portland, Oregon.

    Drum Majors for Love, Truth and Justice

    February 22nd, 2008

    In Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s last speech, “Unfulfilled Dreams,” which he delivered the night before his assassination, King talked about how he wanted to be remembered after his death. He talked about wanting to be remembered as a drum major for justice‚ÄĒthe leader of the marching band for justice. In this sense, King followed in the footsteps of Jesus, the ultimate drum major for justice. The Lord Jesus led people to the beat of a different drum‚ÄĒto the drumbeat of love, truth, and justice as he journeyed to the cross. He proclaimed the whole gospel of the kingdom in word and deed to make individuals and their communities whole.

    Today, there is an urgent need to proclaim the life-changing and society-changing Gospel in word and deed. Dr. John M. Perkins and Dr. Paul Louis Metzger consider themselves drum majors for love, truth, and justice: love because our world is full of hate, and people desperately need to know God’s love through his Son, Jesus Christ, whom God sent to save the world; truth because individual and community life is often built on the shaky foundations of hearsay, fads, and whatever feels good, and people desperately need to build their lives on the authoritative and unshakable teaching of God’s word; and justice because equity is often a commodity that can be bought and sold, and the marginalized desperately need to see that there is justice for all.

    As drum majors, Drs. Perkins and Metzger want to inspire people across the nation to pursue a biblical vision of love, truth, and justice where the all-consuming love of Jesus revealed in the Bible consumes those things that divide us, like race and class barriers. They will be speaking in different locations nationally, working with churches and community groups to raise up well-trained and educated Christian leaders who are passionately engaged in proclaiming the whole gospel of the kingdom in word and deed through the church, to the whole person, in the whole community.

    They view their roles in this Drum Majors partnership as instruments of inspiration and consultation, helping to mobilize communities to take ownership and address the issues they are facing, impacting their cities and towns. Thus, they are not looking for those who stand by and clap as the band passes, but for those who will join them on their march, playing their parts in the love, truth, and justice band.

    More information on the Drum Majors Partnership

    Drum Majors for Love, Truth and Justice Sermon

    February 21st, 2008

    Sermon recording of Dr. John M. Perkins, founder of the John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development, and Dr. Paul Louis Metzger speaking about their Drum Majors partnership at Imago Dei Community in Portland on February 17, 2008.

    Consuming Jesus Book Reading at Powell’s

    February 14th, 2008

    Book reading and Q&A from Paul Louis Metzger’s book, Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church¬†reading at Powell’s City of Books¬†on February 13, 2008.

    Trans World Radio Interview

    January 19th, 2008

    An interview on Trans World Radio with Dr. Paul Louis Metzger on Consuming Jesus.