A Sunday social justice sermon at a rural central Virginia Episcopal church has created a firestorm of controversy among longtime parishioners.
The formerly traditional St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Ivy, Virginia, took a turn to the hard left with the hiring of The Rev. Sarah Kinney Gaventa, who recently worked for the politically Socialist, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy—a left-wing community organizing collective masquerading as a mainstream faith-based non-profit.
In her August 24 homily to the predominantly white assembled congregation at St. Paul’s, Gaventa launched into a racially hostile narrative about a white police officer shooting a young unarmed black man in 1943 Harlem, New York.
She then transitioned to present-day Ferguson, Missouri and in that context delineated a list of “unarmed black men who have been killed by law enforcement in the last month alone.”
Interestingly, Rev. Gaventa did not mention the killing of unarmed Dillon Taylor, a 20 year-old white man who earlier this month was fatally shot by a black police officer in Salt Lake City, Utah. Nor did Gaventa directly reference the killing of any other present-day white victims of violent crime as perpetrated by blacks or whites.
While counter-claiming that we have “become one in Christ,” Rev. Gaventa continued her divisive screed noting “systematic” racist white behavior in education, social media, and law enforcement—chalking it up to an “infection” of “white privilege.”
Gaventa’s final remarks caused silent outrage, as she equated Michael Brown to Jesus, implying that Brown, like Christ, was a sacrifice for our sin:
The God we love came to disrupt the power structures of the world that tell us what we are worth. He is a living God, who loved us so much and was so grieved by our inability to love him and one another, that he was willing to become human.
He became Michael Brown. He became the victim of our sin, so we wouldn’t have to sacrifice each other any more. His sacrifice should have been the last. His sacrifice was enough for us. And yet, here we are. [emphasis added]
Sarah Kinney Gaventa’s confused contention that God became Michael Brown and other such false teachings of the social gospel were forewarned throughout the Bible, but perhaps most concisely in 2 Peter 2:1-3:
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
The Sarah Kinney Gaventas of the post-modern American “church” are as dangerous as a brood of vipers. While diminishing the Great Commission, they instead promote divisive social policies that are contrary to Biblical Christianity and have a decidedly progressive political bent.
God did not become Michael Brown, and Michael Brown was not a sacrifice for our sin. Only Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, and only His blood can atone for our sin.
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.—Romans 3:25
Hear Rev. Sarah Kinney Gaventa compare Michael Brown to Jesus Christ:
Unbelievable utterance from the pulpit of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Ivy. Listen to Rev. Sarah Kinney Gaventa's highly controversial assertion that God "became Michael Brown." http://schillingshow.com/2014/08/27/episcopal-priestess-god-became-michael-brown/
For all of you attention to the book of Romans you seem to have overlooked Jesus' teachings about how he is embodied in our world today – in the poor, the despised, and the vulnerable. This isn't liberal talk – these are Jesus words in the book of Matthew: “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
When did we see Jesus? When we see a young man shot down in the street. Please do better work next time.
Why is Charlottesville so darn crazy left? Where are the Bible believing people?
And where are the PATRIOTS too?
MIA, I'm afraid…
Melissa’s right, of course. Gaventa didn’t say that that Brown was a sacrifice for our sin. She was making the point that God in Jesus was willing to be sinned against, and was sinned against.
One can note that exactly what happened in the Brown shooting has yet to be determined, note that Brown may have started the conflict, and make all the usual conservative points about race relations, but since when did social justice become a lefty thing? It’s a Christian thing.
I have not chosen to read what you posted, but since you chose to post it, I would like to post a commentary from my Pastor, Brett Fuller, Grace Covenant Church in Chantilly, VA. Mercy triumphs over judgement all day every day, amen? This is long, but well worth the read IMO. Love to you all! <3 "At the age of 21, God called me to help plant a church in Washington, D.C. Nine years later, the senior pastor asked me to succeed him in his role. My prayer to God at the time was, “Help me to labor with you in building a church that looks more like heaven than like me.”
In almost every aspect of how that prayer could have been answered, God has seen fit to respond in the affirmative, and I will forever be grateful.
My name is Brett Fuller, and I am the lead pastor of Grace Covenant Church in Chantilly, Va. (a suburb of Washington, D.C.). Grace is a larger-than-small church whose demographics are rare for Virginia: 68% African American, 32% White, Latino and Asian. We intend our unique congregational complexion to have influence beyond simply looking like an unusual family portrait. We sense that we are called to be a witness of what cross-ethnic relational integrity looks like, and what preserved unity produces (Ephesians 4:3). We choose to embrace the difficulty inherent in the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21), and we consider the inconvenience of someone’s relational insensitivity an opportunity for mutual growth.
Building anything with similar people, who like what you like, think how you think, and feel how you feel is a challenge all by itself. But intentionally adding other ethnicities to the plan exponentially complicates the building process, especially in Virginia. The growth is slower, but it resonates with quality. Never more evident is the usefulness of our particular congregation than when a community quakes from the faults of ancient ethnic tectonic plates pushing just below the surface of our culture. My heart breaks for Ferguson, Missouri and the loved ones of Michael Brown.
Intentionally adding other ethnicities to the plan exponentially complicates the building process
I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. Our family’s first home was in the “hood.” When violence crept too close, Dad began exploring the possibility of moving to “white” suburbia. The year was 1966; no realtor would show us a home. After an extensive search, my father found an owner willing to sell.
Breaking the color barrier for that community was painful. Our house was egged, our cars were vandalized, and I was rarely called by my first name. Although we had few friends, and surprisingly few real enemies, there was no shortage of the disgusted, apathetic, and unhelpful. My enrollment in the first grade could never be confused with being enjoyable. Still, I never heard my parents utter a bitter word. They taught my siblings and me to be courageous and loving. They modeled how to grow through troubles, not just go through troubles.
Mom was “God-fearing.” She did not know many Bible passages, but she did seem to always know what not to do. Her proactive restraint served to build character in her children while ensuring their safety. Unknown to me then, these unforgettable lessons were becoming the prompt to a calling.
The brokenness of Ferguson reminds me why the lessons I learned as a child are important. Whenever injustice manifests itself, my parentally-installed “soulware” (software of the soul) checks my rage. The reining-in of my soul is further supported by Christ’s lordship, which encourages me to turn my lone, uninjured, healthy cheek to the offenders. This relational offensive—though counterintuitive—serves as a witness of God’s willingness to overlook offense while ministering from the uninjured side of my Christ-filled humanity.
Change happens in as many ways as there are people to who attempt to bring change about. Generally, societal shifts only happen when pressure is brought to bear on those in authority. The challenge of the Church has always been to decide what kind of pressure should be brought and how much. Whatever the solution, the highest standards and best practices of scripture should not be jettisoned for expediency. At all times, and especially in these times, the Church should be the pillar and support of truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
As our society thirsts for living truth, the Church should not dispense tainted bottled water.
Michael Brown’s death is tragic. The questions surrounding the circumstances of his shooting must be answered with integrity. In addition, evaluations of the way Ferguson’s authority structures relate to their community need to be immediate and perpetual. Still, the aforementioned solutions are repairs to problems that may have been averted if similar efforts had previously been exerted toward community relations and conciliatory conversation.
Every few months, there seems to be a local event that awakens our national conscience to the fact that black and white folks still have a journey to complete. For the spiritual leader, these alarm clocks should serve to emphasize the importance of Christ’s Church, and the relevance of its conciliatory ministry to the unredeemed. Although the Church’s presentation to the community must be incarnational, she must resist the tendency to let her weariness, preference, frustration, or pain bleed through the message. As our society thirsts for living truth, the Church should not dispense tainted bottled water. We must allow them to drink from a pure gospel font.
At present, the town in which I pastor experiences no civil unrest, and the recent tempest in Ferguson seems to have quieted somewhat. However, an unseen storm lurks beyond the horizon. Therefore, the vigilance to maintain the unity of the Spirit while equipping those in the Church to be conciliatory in the community must be constant.
May God help the clergy of Ferguson to weave the yarn of God’s reconciliation into a tapestry that can reflect His good will for that community."
Where are the Bible believing people?
What part of Matthew 25:37-40 don’t libertarians believe?
When Michael Brown was severely beating Officer Darren Wilson and fracturing his (Wilson's) eye socket – was Michael Brown being Jesus THEN?!? When Michael Brown was stealing those cigars from the convenience store and smacking down the much smaller clerk who bravely tried to stop him, was Michael Brown being Jesus THEN?
A violent, thieving, pot-addled, criminal thug was Michael Brown; not Jesus come back to earth.
For a minister, you sure have twisted, backwards morals. You belong nowhere near children lest you corrupt them. Does the congregation of Duke Memorial United Methodist Church know you are a blasphemer?
A violent, thieving, pot-addled, criminal thug was Michael Brown
Also, just a teenager, with typically poor judgment and typically poor impulse control. As Paul says in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Roman 3:23. As Hamlet says, “Use every man after his desert [what he deserves], and who should ‘scape whipping?”
Gaventas didn’t say that Michael Brown was being Jesus, and she didn’t mean that Jesus literally became Michael Brown. But when Jesus looks at us, he sees us as just like Michael Brown: just as valuable, and just as in need of mercy.