By Brenda Salter McNeil and Caroline Triscik

Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil: The Road to Racial Reconciliation

“What needs to be repaired? First we have to ask ourselves, 'What’s been broken?’” — Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil

Listen in on our interview with Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, professor of reconciliation studies, as we discuss the complex work of pursuing racial justice and reconciliation in our world.

As our nation is in the midst of engaging in many necessary and important conversations about racism and the need for racial justice, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, an expert on the topic of racial reconciliation. In our conversation together, Dr. Brenda invites us into her own journey of transformation in her thinking about racial reconciliation, while helping us understand our own journeys as well. 

In this interview, we discuss the recent release of the new edition of her book Roadmap to Reconciliation 2.0. Dr. Brenda unpacks her definition of reconciliation: “an ongoing spiritual process involving forgiveness, repentance, and justice that restores broken relationships and systems to reflect God’s original intention for all creation to flourish.” 

Dr. Brenda notes the distinction between racial reconciliation and racial justice and urges us to redeem the term reconciliation from the watered-down term many Christians have made it to be.

As a trauma-informed counselor, I was also grateful to hear Dr. Brenda’s perspective on racial trauma and the impact conversations on racial injustice have on different groups of people. Dr. Brenda suggests several strategies for engaging in conversation without continuing to wound and re-traumatize one another.

We wrap up our conversation by exploring the hope she has specifically for women and our collective voices as a catalyst for justice and change. We hope you find this interview as meaningful as we did.

Caroline Triscik

About the Author

Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil is an Associate Professor of Reconciliation Studies at Seattle Pacific University, directing the Reconciliation Studies program. She is also the Associate Pastor of Preaching and Reconciliation at Quest Church in Seattle. She is the author of Roadmap to Reconciliation 2.0, A Credible Witness: Reflections on Power, Evangelism and Race (2008), and The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change Leads to Social Change (2005), coauthored with Rick Richardson. Her newest book Becoming Brave: Finding the Courage to Pursue Racial Justice Now is available August 2020.

Caroline served with InterVarsity since 2002 as a campus staff member in northwest Indiana and most recently in central Pennsylvania. She received her bachelor’s degree in English with a focus on creative writing from Purdue University in 2002 and holds a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling from Messiah College. Caroline, her husband, and their three children live in “the sweetest place on earth,” otherwise known as Hershey, Pennsylvania. In her spare time, she likes to read, discover new music, and attempt to train her exuberant Labrador retriever, Pax. Caroline is a clinical mental health counselor and a former associate with Women in the Academy and Professions.

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