As the emergent church expands, African Americans will wonder how we might fit into environments where none of the faces look like our own. Many of us won't leave our congregations because our identities are there, our literal DNA carriers are still religious conservatives, and voicing contrary beliefs could disrupt the family unit. Many of us wonder if our friends will still talk to us if we openly admit that we think gays have a place in church leadership, that "liberalism" isn't the devil's theology, or that "hell" might really be an invention of the church.
African Americans who overcome these challenges often exit mainstream Christianity to live in spiritual exile with no support system and no clue that they may have emerged. Online communities could cause these unknowingly-emergent exiles to find one another or to find faith groups led by African American emergent ministers such as Anthony Smith.
Those who wonder if African Americans will join the emergent conversation must understand that African American Christians will begin the journey by demonstrating emergent values before embracing the "emergent" label. Emergent voices will have to remain culturally sensitive to the needs of people of color and be intentional about inviting minorities to join in the conversation. And we will have to remember that no religious reformation of significance has ever happened overnight. The process will be slow, but if undertaken with care, could be monumental for Christians of all ethnicities.