I appreciated Ruth Harder’s article, “Seeing dimly” (Feb. 10), about what to do with the “stained legacy of a white Jesus.” Like Harder, I worship in a Mennonite church purchased from a Methodist church with a stained-glass portrayal of Jesus as white. The five questions Harder raised are the same ones a number of us at Shalom Mennonite Church have struggled with. For years, I thought of engaging my congregation in a conversation, but I wasn’t sure where and when to initiate the discussion. Some white members who were concerned about the issue tried to brown Jesus’ face and hands with crayons. It is clear that communicating racial hierarchies through art inflicts serious damage.
The 3- to 6-year-old children who come to church are encoded to believe Jesus is white. We all know Jesus is not white. The cost of doing nothing will be that our grandchildren will be stressed with the same issue years from now.
As church leaders perpetuate the lie, maintaining centuries-old practices, we will continue to struggle to find the answer to white supremacy and racial hierarchies. I look forward to the outcome of Harder’s research and her congregation’s action.
Zenebe Abebe, Indianapolis, Ind.
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