Oak Park

Suburban Chicago Church Says For Lent 2022 it is ‘Fasting From Whiteness'

A church in a western Chicago suburb says that for Lent 2022, it is "Fasting from Whiteness."

'"For Lent this year, First United is doing a mix of “giving something up” and “taking something on.,"' an announcement on the website of First United Church of Oak Park read. "In our worship services throughout Lent, we will not be using any music or liturgy written or composed by white people."

"Our music will be drawn from the African American spirituals tradition, from South African freedom songs, from Native American traditions, and many, many more," the post continued. "For Lent, it is our prayer that in our spiritual disciplines we may grow as Christians, united in the body of Christ with people of all ages, nations, races, and origins."

The "Our Values" section of First United's website states the congregation is "Refreshing our Purpose and Covenant," and that in 2020 a task force had identified revised language to be adopted into the church's constitution, and new core values laid out in the church's First United Strategic Plan.

"Who are we as a church? What is our identity? What is our very purpose? These questions are studied in depth in a new set of statements that define the church’s priorities, ministries, and vision for the future, along with an enhanced covenant," a statement on the website reads.

A statement provided to NBC Chicago by lead Pastor John Edgerton said "Our Lenten theme has spurred considerable discussion, with some people questioning the message. In keeping with the Lenten spiritual discipline of fasting, our intent was to lay aside our usual frames of reference and open ourselves to hearing the Gospel message through the voices of Black People, Indigenous People, and People of Color. Our worship services in Lent have been diverse and beautiful, joyful and Spirit-filled. We pray that God oils the hinges of our hearts doors that they might swing open gently to receive the good news of Christ’s resurrection, which we all await at the culmination of Lent."

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