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[Rick Atchley's Sermon On Racial Reconciliation]

[Rick Atchley's Apology]


July 20, 2004

Mr. Rick Atchley, Minister
Richland Hills Church of Christ
6300 NE Loop 820
North Richland Hills, TX 76180-7899

Dear brother Atchley,

This is to thank you for your letter of July 2, 2004, and for your extending to me the common courtesy of replying to my letter to you of March 19, 2004, against the “strong counsel,” as you state, of those to whom I did not write the letter, regardless of their church positions, race or ethnicity.  I, too, have received numerous comments via all kinds of communications from around our brotherhood, both African-Americans and white brethren, with reference to my letter to you of the above date.  Not that it matters, but all of my respondents expressed appreciation of my response to you in the Christian, yet candid, way that I voiced my impressions and expressions with reference to your sermon on “Reconciliation” of January 28, 2004.  And while I do not retract nor equivocate on anything that I said to you in my letter, I do appreciate your apology for giving the perception that you gave in your sermon.  Please understand that I was not the only one who got from your sermon the perception of racial condescension and even racial superiority in grasping the precepts of Christian doctrine.  Thus, since I cannot read your “heart,” as you state, I was responding to what you said.  And I do know that Jesus says, “…for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34).

I am sorry about your regret with reference to the way I chose to disagree with you, and that was in a public format.  But you must remember, Rick, that your sermon of January 28, 2004, was to the public, first at the Richland Hills congregation, and then on the Internet, which meant world-wide.  It was from the Internet that I received your sermon.  And I responded in kind.  Have you forgotten, Rick, that you gave your “critical opinion” of the entire African-American church with regards to teaching “the church of Christ only” doctrine?

While I also responded to the racial subtleties in your sermon, whether you realized or not that they were glaringly apparent, my greater concern was and is with what I consider as your departure from the holistic teaching of the scripture on numerous issues, and especially “the grace of God.”  Race is immaterial to God (Acts 10:34; 17;26); but the doctrine of Christ is of utmost importance to Him (1 Tim. 1:3; Titus 2:1).  And it is in the doctrinal area in which I am interested in more dialogue with you.  And since our differences in this area are now widespread via the Internet, some written medium, and word of mouth, I believe that such dialogues about doctrine should be public, not in office conversations between the two of us, as, as you know, one segment of churches of Christ, is now in disarray because of doctrinal differences.  My life and work are geared toward helping the brotherhood of churches of Christ world-wide.  If you are amenable to such public dialogues, I assure you that thousands of African-American Christians would attend, that the dialogues would be conducted on a high, mutually Christian, respectful level, and that such dialogues would contribute to the creation and strengthening of God-given unity, not union such as we have, between African-American, white, Hispanic and other ethnic churches of Christ.  If you would host one in Ft. Worth, I will host one in Dallas or Terrell.  And we could jointly host one in Abilene, Texas, on the campus of Abilene Christian University, if the officials there would accept it.  And since we all, in recent years, have been conferring on how we all can be “one in Christ,” I believe the officials of ACU would be happy to expose their students, staff, and the Abilene churches of Christ to such an open dialogue.

Brother Atchley, life is too short and eternity is too long for us not to face and try to resolve the real issues that separate African-American churches of Christ from predominantly white churches of Christ.  The Old and New Testaments are replete with examples of open confrontations on controversial and divisive issues between God’s people, and even those who were not His people, that served for the positive good of bringing about the unity that God requires (1 Kings 18:1-46; Acts 15:1-31; 18:28, for a few examples).

Contrary to your “brothers’ counsel” to not reply to me because it would “only make things worse,” this is to inform you that I am only interested in the Cause of Christ and the furtherance of His truth, which cannot be “done in a corner” (Acts 26:26).

Best wishes. And I shall look forward to receiving your favorable reply.

In Him,

Jack Evans, President

PS:      Your hosted dialogue could be held in Fort Worth or Richland Hills; mine could
            be held in Dallas or Terrell.

 cc:       Dr. Royce Money, President, ACU
            Interested Parties


[Rick Atchley's Apology]

[Rick Atchley's Sermon On Racial Reconciliation]

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