• The church won't perform hymns and liturgy created by white people during Lent
  • It was touted as a move to be united with "people of all ages, nations, races, and origins"
  • The church released a statement Wednesday after some questioned the message

A church in suburban Chicago caught the country’s attention by saying it is “fasting from whiteness” for this year’s Lent.

The church released a statement Wednesday after their Lenten theme “spurred considerable discussion, with some people questioning the message.”

The First United Church of Oak Park had previously announced that it will be cutting out hymns or liturgy written or composed by white people during Lent — a 40-day-period of abstinence until the day of Easter.

'"For Lent this year, First United is doing a mix of 'giving something up' and 'taking something on,'" the church said on its website about their Lenten theme for 2022, according to NBC Chicago. "In our worship services throughout Lent, we will not be using any music or liturgy written or composed by white people.”

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"Our music will be drawn from the African American spirituals tradition, from South African freedom songs, from Native American traditions, and many, many more. 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 church added.

Church-goers were greeted with a sign on the front lawn that says “fasting from whiteness” during this lent season, which began in March, the Turning Point USA reported, as per the New York Post.

In a video of one of the church’s so-called white-free services, Rev. Lydia Mulkey said: “In this fast from whiteness, of course, I cannot change the color of my skin or the way that allows me to move through the world, but I can change what I listen to, whose voice I prioritize,” as quoted by the Washington Times.

“And so that is kind of the place for our worship services, through Lent, that we would fast for a time from prioritizing White voices,” added Rev. Mulkey, identified as the associate pastor of education.

In response to the recent attention their Lenten theme received, the church's statement released Wednesday said: “In practice 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. 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,” the statement continued.

Representative image Credit: Pixabay / jaefrench