michael baughman

The Conversation Continues

Written by: Arian Augustus

Following the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, Union Coffee hosted a public event called “The Conversation,” and community coordinator Rev. Mike Baughman pledged that “Dallas Will Be Different.” As the national discussion on the relationship between racial justice and policing in America continues, Union is doing its part by talking with leaders in Dallas within its worship community.

On Sunday July 17, guest speakers at Studio included Jim Schutze and Chequan Lewis. Schutze is a beloved, long-time columnist for the Dallas Observer and author of the now illicit history of race relations in Dallas, The Accommodation. Lewis is a Harvard educated attorney, a former member of Dallas’ Mayor’s Star Council, and a southern Dallas native known for his passionate advocacy for initiatives benefitting his community. (Not to mention, Lewis’ recent column in The Dallas Morning News went viral for its eloquent call to action.) Lewis and Schutze joined the stage with Baughman for an informal panel discussion in lieu of the usual sermon. Local thespian and host of Bar Politics, Josh Kumler, led the discussion.

In navigating how to move forward in response to recent tragedies, Lewis noted that, “Otherness makes [people into] a different creature than you are. … We have to fundamentally change the way we treat each other. If we're going to pretend to be the kingdom of God on earth, let's start looking and acting like Jesus.” Such a statement is bold, to say the least, as Sunday morning has often been nicknamed “the most segregated time in America.”

Still, Baughman shared similar thoughts stating, “You have to look for the presence of God even when someone is being an asshole.” That is hard to do. Because some people make you look really hard for the God in them. Really, really hard.

Fortunately, there are people like Schutze who have a surprising answer for the difficulty of finding the good in people and in the current racial climate of our country: “You really need to talk more old, white people!” Shutze also stated that for he and his wife, many of their relationships with old friends are “fracturing over politics.” It seems that more Facebook friends are lost than made over each life that ends in a hashtag. Yet, despite his historical understanding of race, Schutze remains optimistic. “Hope doesn’t hover out there,” he says. “We can do hope. We can make hope.”

Baughman also shared his enduring hope as a religious leader. “I want the church to be involved in [change], but I want it [to stop doing it] on the church's terms. ... We assume that we know what needs to be done, and we don't turn to others.” Indeed, churches alone cannot take on the responsibility for systemic change. If we are going to be truly #DallasStrong, all of us, regardless of church affiliation or background, must start exchanging our knowledge and experiences and working together.

Finally, Lewis provided sound advice on how to combat our country’s race problem at the individual level. “C.S. Lewis smuggled the gospel through fantasy. White people, I need you smuggle the message [of the complexities of racial injustice] to people that look like you. [And] as black people, we have to extend incredible grace. Let people make a mistake or two as long as they're coming at it the right way.”

Union will be continuing the Dallas Will Be Different series with guest speakers Dennis Dotson and Larry Randolph at the Kuneo service on Tuesday July 19. Worship and conversation begin at 8:00 p.m.



There Is Someone In Dallas You Should Meet!

There is a main reason we are releasing this article today... Because it is his BIRTHDAY! However, we are thankful for him everyday and we really think you should meet him. His name is Mike Baughman. If you've been to Union before you probably have met this guy, but if not you should come by and change that. 

Mike is the Community Curator at Union Coffee. For the past 3.5+ years Mike has done everything from brewing coffee to preach at Kuneo and Studio to telling stories on The Naked Stage. Yes, Mike has done it all inside of the walls of Union, but his passion for coffee, community and cause goes beyond the walls of this coffee shop. Mike is an active leader in the city of Dallas and is passionate about the growth and collaboration of the city. He's active in the arts of the city, rebuilding of communities, bringing parties together that may have never known each other and so much more. 

As a husband, father, friend, colleague, peer, and more (we put that Oxford comma in there because Mike is such a huge fan of them ;) ) Mike is the prime definition of putting others first. 

Thank you for everything you do for Union and the community.
From your Union family, Happy Birthday Mike!