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‘If You Can’t Make It Through the Storm’

As the nation reacts to racially charged violence in Virginia, Christians white and black gather in Oklahoma for a night of song.

“If you can’t make it through the storm,
If you can’t make it through the storm,
How can you say God is the captain of your life,
if you can’t make it through the storm?”

The words echoed through the auditorium of the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City Saturday night as Christians white and black sang praises to God.

The United in Christ Songfest — part of an effort among Churches of Christ in Oklahoma to increase fellowship among predominantly white and predominantly black congregations — drew believers from across the state. They sang hymns and listened to performances by a cappella groups.

Earlier in the day, protesters clashed in Charlottesville, Va., at a gathering of white nationalist groups. One person was killed and 19 were injured when a car slammed into a group of protesters opposed to the white nationalists. Two Virginia State Patrol troopers died in a helicopter crash while responding to the violence.

My first thought is that I’m disgusted … and it’s important that you hear a short, white guy say that,” Jeremie Beller told the predominantly black audience. Beller, congregational minister for the Wilshire Church of Christ in Oklahoma City, said that many of those proclaiming white nationalism are themselves churchgoers, and too few white Christians are willing to stand against their beliefs publicly.

“I’m disgusted that we have not called sin, sin,” Beller said, “and racism is sin.”

Members of Women In Need of God Sing (WINGS), an a cappella group of women from Churches of Christ across Oklahoma City, sing during the United in Christ Songfest. (PHOTO BY ERIK TRYGGESTAD)

Throughout the Songfest — an event planned months earlier — vocal groups including Terri Mays and Friends, Women In Need of God Sing (WINGS), and the United Men’s Chorus sang hymns including “My Life, My Love, My All” and “He Woke Me Up This Morning.” Before a final prayer, the Christians stand and sang “Let It Rise.”

“Let the glory of the Lord rise among us
Let the glory of the Lord rise among us
Let the praises of the King rise among us
Let it rise, let it rise …”

Beller cited the book Revelation, which describes Jesus’ final victory over evil. In chapter 4, as the Lord sits on a throne, living creatures surround him and proclaim, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

Beller urged Christians of all races “to sing together in defiance of every voice that’s out there” proclaiming hatred.

“Nothing you see on the news today,” he said, “will change that God is seated where he’s always been seated — on the throne.”

The United Men’s Chorus sings during the United in Christ Songfest. (PHOTO BY ERIK TRYGGESTAD)  

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