Around 2006, Allan Younger, attended his first NCS meeting. When the opportunity to be a founding member of the NCS East group came up – despite living on the other side of town – he jumped on it. After the COVID-19 pandemic moved all NCS meetings to a virtual space, the East group made the decision to begin meeting jointly with NCS Davie County.
The timing of this coincided with the race incidents and activism that were becoming the focus of much conversation nationally. And the NCS East/Davie meetings were no exception. Almost a year later, race still comes up almost every week.
“On any given Thursday, issues related to race may come up – although race may not have been the central topic of conversation,” said Younger. “Because we’ve had some challenging conversations, people feel comfortable asking questions or making points on the topic of race or racial equity.”
Younger sees this as a good thing. With everyone in a different place on their journey – with understanding race as well as Christianity – NCS has provided yet another platform for the journey to continue.
“There are times when perspectives clash. There are people in the meeting who are dead set in their thought process and frustrated when others don’t think the way they do,” explained Younger. “However, since we have a shared focus on Christ first, we are less likely to stay upset with each other.”
Younger has seen White brothers evolve on their thinking about race, often looking back on previous life experiences and gaining a new understanding. But he has also seen reflection occur with both the White and Black brothers.
Last June, Younger was asked to talk about Juneteenth. He spoke about it from a historical perspective but also about what the celebration means to people today. Many men knew nothing of this celebration. Yet in 2020, it was a part of the national conversation. While some brothers had heard about it, they didn’t really know its story or implications. Younger shared how Black people had been free for a lot longer than many in our society wanted to recognize.
In February, Younger was asked to bring in people to interview or have panel discussions for the joint group’s meetings. While the panel discussions weren’t slated to be about race, there were times when racial equity came up. The panels were diverse…so the Conversations With God’s Servants, as they were called, have included race discussions.
“I’ll ask someone ‘what does it mean for you to be a servant of God?’. And people will often talk about how they think other people should be treated…or how some people are mistreated. People are often mistreated because of their race – and thus share their lived experience, if they’ve been on the receiving end of mistreatment,” said Younger.
Younger firmly believes that it’s necessary for both organic, unplanned conversations about race as well as direct conversations about race to coexist in the meeting space. There is room for both – and value in each.
When asked about how he sees God at work in this diverse group of men, Younger had a ready answer.
“I think it’s very good that people feel more comfortable asking questions about race and having the difficult conversations. In the past, a lot of White guys might have felt like they were being criticized during these types of conversations…even though the other person may have just been trying to help them understand,” explained Younger.
“God has created an atmosphere within this group where people can ask questions honestly and admit to not understanding – and our men may have no other spaces in their lives where they can do that.”