Website of the musician, speaker, and author of
White Churches and the Taking of
Available Feb 20, 2024 from Fortress Press
Words and Music
Carolina Social Music Club, the creation of Greg and vocalist Dawn Anthony, presents concert programming around "jazz and justice" throughout the South. Contact Greg through this site for bookings.
Our Trespasses: White Churches and theb Taking of American Neighborhoods
My Substack site, Trespasses of the Holy, holds regular shorter pieces and reflections. Subscribe, either free or paid, by visiting here.
This essay, written as North Carolina was passing the infamous HB2, remains the most-viewed and shared piece I've ever published.
"My Front Porch Cloister" was published by the online magazine The Bitter Southerner. I wrote it near the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns in spring 2020.
Praise for Our Trespasses
Greg Jarrell exhumes stories of struggle against structural racism and poverty entombed beneath parking lots and sanctuaries. He follows white and Black families (and churches) “like ghosts” through epochs of betrayal: from Reconstruction to “Urban Renewal” to contemporary gentrification....I cannot commend more highly the challenging sociological and biblical reflections herein, which take urban theology deeper and offer a personal and political map for how white churches might yet turn to a vocation of penance and restorative justice.
Greg offers an invitation to remember, not just the idea of an abstract Black neighborhood that once existed, but the specific lives of Black families who continue to struggle economically because of the cascading impact of urban renewal. It is an invitation for White Christians, in and beyond Charlotte, to transcend the fear of confronting their pasts, to move beyond silence, and to remember....
White churches, you do not have to choose the silence. This is your clarion call. It is time to put up or shut up, to move beyond the pretense of racial innocence and feigned helplessness. How will you respond?
Jarrell’s engaging storytelling, fresh historical research, and commitment to preserving the dignity of all the characters (living and dead) draw readers deep into questions about where we live, who lives around us, and what ghosts of “communities past” are just beyond our sightline. Jarrell reveals where the religious perspectives of the characters expand or contract in this recovery of the religious history of urban renewal, with a particular focus on white churches in Charlotte. This is a necessary read for city planners, church leaders, real estate developers, social historians, community organizers, and those who believe the Bible speaks urgently to our present condition.
Ched Myers, co-author of Healing Haunted Histories: A Settler Discipleship of Decolonization
Chanequa Walker-Barnes, Ph.D., author of I Bring the Voices of My People.
Rose Marie Berger, senior editor, Sojourners magazine
Greg is a cultural organizer with QC Family Tree in the Enderly Park neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina. He works with words and music to impact housing and neighborhood justice issues. Jarrell writes about theology and history and co-leads Carolina Social Music Club, a popular jazz band. He and his wife, Helms, are ordained ministers and are raising two sons.
Greg is the author of two books. His book Our Trespasses: White Churches and the Taking of American Neighborhoods (Fortress Press), has won wide acclaim for its lucid storytelling and new research. He has written widely, including for Sojourners, The Bitter Southerner, and The Charlotte Observer. Greg is a regular contributor at Baptist News Global. He frequently speaks, teaches, and preaches on place, race, and faith.