I Left My Multicultural Church After 13 Years
‘We hadn’t had a message specifically preached on racism until after the protests and killings repeated in 2020.’
By Sierra Lyons, recent graduate of Florida A&M University
This year has brought many changes, including graduating from college. I’ve been focusing on transitioning to my career full-time and daydreaming about where I see myself living next. But the biggest change I’ve faced this year wasn’t about school or my career.
It was leaving my multicultural church of 13 years.
Before I was a member, I was an earnest elementary and middle school student at their private school. I had no idea that I would call that building a second home for so many years. In 2011, after leaving our previous church of over 20 years, my family embarked on the laborious journey of finding a new church home. What seemed like an easy task with churches on every corner in our small Florida town, was arduous as we struggled to find a place that aligned with our beliefs and had the atmosphere we were seeking.
The church we finally decided on was right under our noses as my sister and I were students at their adjoined school. Coming from a non-denominational Black church, to a multi-ethnic non-denominational church was a huge shift for each of us.
But no sooner than we joined did I fall in love with the freedom, praise and worship brought and the youth ministries that I was a part of. Their mission statement was reiterated often as being multicultural and multiethnic was important to them and they wanted to remind the congregation how our diversity was countercultural to most other churches. The idea that our congregation mirrored what heaven looks like, was good enough for me as a young teenager, now involved in many ministries and bragging about my diverse church wherever I went.
I’ve always been a compassionate and empathetic person who advocated against injustice and discrimination. As I learned about the murder of Trayvon Martin, my heart ached for his loved ones. As a 12-year-old at that time, it was unfathomable that such a grotesque act had been done to a child only a few years older than me. I thought about Martin often and lamented with my Black peers at school. My best friend at the time who was white…