By Haleigh Fitzsimmons
Rev. B. Keith Haney spoke to Concordia’s campus on Jan. 19 about neighborship in our world in efforts to spread a message of understanding to the racial injustices that are happening in real-time.
Haney is from Fort Dodge, Iowa, and is the Assistant to the President for Missions, Human Care, and Stewardship. Haney serves multi-ethnic urban congregations and has been an ordained pastor for 27 years. Haney said that his message was aimed at an important aspect of redefining who the neighbor is.
Haney said, “Being black in America means that you may on a consistent basis run into people treating you differently.”
Haney talked about the effectiveness of listening to those stories of racial injustice with a sympathetic ear.
Haney highlighted the loss of hope among the black community in their government for any improvement for their lives and having lived in both blue and red states, he said how he believes that neither political party is supportive of black people.
He said, “[government] does not deal with educational issues in the black community, they don’t make the schools better, they don’t provide for economic development in those communities.”
Haney looks towards the church to make a change for African American lives rather than political parties. He works with many black families who continue to struggle economically with little to no assistance from the government to impact the black community.
Haney said, “You get people who are fed up with promises.”
Haney said the movement this summer was to talk about the problems that are facing the black community.
“People were sympathetic but there were no solutions that came out of it,” he said.
Haney spoke about the importance of teaching investment skills and financial literacy in the black community as an impactful way to start making a change.
Haney said, “Government needs to actually listen to people.”
Haney said that passing legislation to fix a current problem creates multiple new problems that are often overlooked, creating a cycle of bigger problems.
“Sometimes government tries to solve a problem and creates three or four other problems because they don’t really look at the consequences for the people they are trying to help, and government never really assesses this program until it’s too late.” Haney said.
Haney’s outreach program looks towards helping immigrants in their congregations adapt to life in America and said that implementing similar techniques in the black community may end up making a real difference.
He wants to give college students a hopeful message in order to impact change and encourages college students to take the challenge to shape a better future for tomorrow.
A junior student at CUNE, Cecelia Minchow, attended Rev. Haney’s talk and found his message engaging and meaningful.
Minchow said, “Rev. Haney was able to hold an engaging, faith-based conversation regarding racism and diversity without sugarcoating the topics.”
During Haney’s presentation, he asked students “how can I walk alongside you and be a blessing to you?” Minchow thought this was an important question as she takes her Christian vocation into account.
Minchow said: “It’s not about making a committee, but each Christian choosing love for themselves. Let us become an army of lovers, ambassadors of reconciliation.”
Haney’s talk was sponsored by the Looking Beyond Speaker Series and was made possible in part through an ongoing gift from Martin and Regina Maehr. The series’ purpose is to present diverse speakers and ideas to Concordia’s students and campus.
Attendees at the event wore masks and were seated with social distancing measures implemented.