Brian and Chavonne Taylor planted Bethel Cincinnati Church in an area that was not always welcome to diversity. Now the church is becoming one where it is hard to tell whether it is black or white, while seeing other ethnicities integrated, too. Their hope is to restore relationships and community in a city plagued by racial challenges.
“My pursuit of racial reconciliation came less out of a sense of the need and more out of a sense of who God’s called me to be in relationship to Him,” Brian said. “In any city God called me to work, I would work toward reconciliation.”
Cincinnati has a long history of race riots, its first occurring in 1829, just 41 years after it was founded. Its most recent riot occurred in 2001, following the shooting of Timothy Thomas, an unarmed black teenager.
“Racism is like a beach ball that we want to keep under the water’s surface, but it keeps springing up,” Brian said.
Following the attack in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017, Brian highlighted the racial diversity and friendships within his church. He asked that the lights be turned up and for individuals to look at their neighbors, to shake hands with their friends. As he looked out at the congregation, he saw people from many nations represented.
“It’s one thing for people to meet together, but different to eat together,” Brian said. “When that happens, you start hearing narratives that are different from your own. When you have relationships with people from different ethnicities, it makes it hard to label people one way.”
Brian believes that reconciliation starts on a personal level, but then moves to transform communities.