Crossing the Bridge

Building Enduring Multi-Ethnic Relationships

The murder of George Floyd, the pandemic, and the unrest in the streets have left many Christians feeling disheartened, divided, and unsure where to go next in fulfilling their Biblical mandate to heal societal and ethnic divisions. Last month, in response, to this unease, unCUFFED hosted a forum entitled Becoming A Stable Bridge, in which we discussed how Christians can build relationships across disparate communities, speak bold truth while practicing empathetic listening, and stand united without uniformity.

Now, on September 8th at 7:30 pm, we will host a follow-up entitled Crossing the Bridge: Building Enduring Multi-Ethnic Relationships. We will be exploring the importance and real-life application of discipleship and walking alongside people who are different from us or with whom we have disagreements based on ethnicity, age, and political affiliation.

Understanding the precise meaning of a word is critical to building consensus. For our forum, we have decided to use the word ethnicity rather than race. The New Testament uses the Greek word ethnos to describe a tribe, nation, or people group. In Matthew 21:43 Jesus says, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to an ethnos producing the fruit of it.” Modern scholarship regards race as a social construct and the scientific definition of race is the human species divided into distinct groups on the basis of inherited physical and behavioral differences. Race seems fixed and ethnos or ethnicity fluid. The unity of the church is dependent on Christians not feeling boxed in to fixed groups based on skin color, age or political affiliation but choosing to be a member of a tribe that can change and grow; showing the world that there can be unity even in the midst of disagreement.

The forum will address what we must do individually and as the church to cross these ethnic, generational, and political divides in order to bring unity to our nation. Please join us, we value your input and participation.

Denea Jones, Bible teacher, conference speaker and passionate woman of prayer. Denea is an Elder at Sowebo Community Church. She shares God’s Word with a sincere desire to enrich, empower and enhance the lives of people.

Denea has a deep passion and desire to see equity in our city, nation and world. She works to build diversity within her church, community and city. Denea believes that as a woman of faith, she is compelled to reach across socioeconomic, racial and gender borders by disciplining the next generation. One of her greatest joys is encouraging others and helping them to build unity through dialogue and relationships.

Josh Goodman is the City Director for Young Life Baltimore City, having worked for Young Life for Ten years. He currently lives in West Baltimore with his wife and two daughters. Josh has a passion for being a "bridge-builder" and for unleashing men and women to impact the next generation of Young people.

Raised in Baltimore, James McCray is a tireless servant to juveniles who are incarcerated, homeless, and struggling without Christ. In his work as unCUFFED's Baltimore City Area Director, James speaks with authority and from experience, having done time in Maryland's prisons before coming to know Jesus during his incarceration.

Before joining unCUFFED, he had worked with the Youth Empowerment Society, Loving Arms Youth Shelter, and Mountain Manor Treatment Center. Additionally, he currently serves as a Baltimore City Police and Citizen Chaplain for the City's Northern District. James is also a worship leader with the Anointed Ex-Offenders. 

James's easy demeanor, bright spirit, and personal experiences make him an invaluable part of uncuffed's team, allowing him to easily build relationships and earn trust with incarcerated young men.

George Antonakos is a retired/reinvented Pastor. Born and raised in the greater Baltimore area, George is a graduate of McDonogh School ('68), Clemson University ('72), and Holland, Michigan's Western Theological Seminary ('86). He has served in vocational Christian Ministry for 50 years (including 27 years as an ordained Presbyterian Pastor), retiring from his position at Central Presbyterian Church in 2014. Since his retirement, he and his wife, Ellen, have been serving the Lord through ChurchONE in Towson in various capacities. 

George has also been a faithful unCUFFED volunteer since 2015, leading bible studies at The Hickey School on a weekly basis. Outside of his vocations, George enjoys spending time with his and Ellen's three adult children and four grandchildren and trying (with little success) to lower his golf handicap.