Racism

Remarks for an Interfaith Response to the President's Policies

The first question someone might raise upon hearing of an Interfaith response to the president’s policies might reasonably be, “Why are faith leaders involving themselves in partisan politics by holding a press conference?”

The answer to that question, most simply put, is that the kinds of policies and the legislative agenda coming out of Washington D.C. . . . all the way down to our state capital are a matter of profound concern to us gathered here. To put a finer point on it, the issues—ranging from the proposed budget, to the Executive Order, to the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act are not merely partisan political issues to us—they’re moral issues, issues that strike at the heart of our most precious moral and religious commitments.

From my own tradition, I can say with certainty that Jesus never said: “Go ye therefore into all the world . . . and make life as miserable as possible for poor people who need financial and healthcare assistance. And while you’re out there spreading misery, don’t forget to ensure that refugees, Muslims, undocumented immigrants, African Americans, women, and LGBTQ people have as grim an existence as you can possibly make it.”

That doesn’t sound anything like Jesus . . . or the Prophet Muhammad, or Moses, or the Buddha—or any of the faith traditions we hold dear. But you might be forgiven for thinking that those are exactly the marching orders handed down from certain political leaders . . . both in Washington and Frankfort. If it were possible to craft a social and political agenda that would fail more stunningly to represent the best expressions of all of our faith traditions, I’m sure I don’t know what it would be.

How we treat those seeking refuge or work or a start on a new life, how we care for the environment, how we empower women to have control over their own bodies and careers, how we refuse to enable systems that continue to oppress and deny human dignity to African Americans and LGBTQ people, how we ensure affordable healthcare to all people, how we protect the rights and the safety of our Muslim and Jewish neighbors . . . these things and not our commitment to dogmatic purity, we believe, are the true test of our faith.

We are called, as the deepest expression of who we are as people of faith, to give voice to the voiceless.

We will not be silenced!

(Un)Gratitude

By Rev. Mindi

I am participating in the UncoSynchro blog, a writing collaborative effort from #‎Unco14, focusing on subversive themes of faith and life. The theme for November is (Un)Gratitude

This Thanksgiving, I am not thankful, not grateful, for the non-indictment of Darren Wilson.

I am ungrateful that once again, an unarmed black teen is shot by police. That once again, a black teen is depicted as a brute, a monster, and that the police officer had no choice but to shoot and kill him.

I am ungrateful that few of my white friends are speaking about this, except to urge for people to protest peacefully, when violence has interrupted the lives of a black family once again.

I could go on and on, but I want to lift up some other voices—what you can read, and how you can respond:

12 Things White People Can Do Now Because Ferguson Here is a sample of what white persons can do to educate themselves about the history of racism in the United States and how white people can act.

#StayWokeAdvent The hashtag #StayWoke has been used on Twitter throughout the last 100+ days since Michael Brown’s death. People are reflecting on the season of Advent and how we can actively participate in God’s justice here on earth. This is part of the Faith in Ferguson blog, following the #FergusonTheology hashtag.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. Read it all the way through. If you are white, reflect on your place in that letter. How are you responding to the events in Ferguson?

I am ungrateful that this keeps happening. Just this week, a twelve-year-old boy was shot and killed by police. He had a BB gun pistol with him. He was playing with it on a playground. Someone saw him and called the police, but even in the call to 911, the caller said it was a toy gun.

I am ungrateful for toy guns. I cannot tell you how many times this summer at various playgrounds boys were playing with water guns and other toy guns and pointing them at me and my son. I was upset about it. After all the school shootings we have had, which I am also ungrateful for, I am ungrateful that parents still think toy guns are all right to own and fun to play with. I am ungrateful for the fact that no one bats an eye when white children play with them, but when a black child plays with a toy gun, he is assumed to be aggressive and assaulting other children.

I am ungrateful for our culture of preserving property and rights to own property, specifically guns, over the rights of children and teens and young adults to live.

I am ungrateful for the response of burning cars and looting stores and throwing rocks at police officers. I am. But I am much more ungrateful that we focus on those actions rather than all the other actions that have led up to this moment. I am ungrateful for our history of slavery, of segregation, of racism that is engrained in our society. I am ungrateful for the schools to prisons pipeline.

I am ungrateful that the white mainline church will continue to remain mostly silent on Ferguson, on Michael Brown’s death, on racism in general.

I am ungrateful that white voices continue to permeate the discussion, calling for order and restraint and setting the boundaries and limits of conversations about racism. I am ungrateful that so many believe racism is of the past.

I am reminded, however, that our Savior was also of a people and culture despised in his day; that he was labeled a criminal unjustly; tried and convicted, sentenced to death by capital punishment; and that he rose on the third day.

He rose.

This is not over. Justice will rise. Black voices will not be silenced. For that, I am grateful.

A Reflection on #Ferguson

By Charlsi Lewis Lee

Disclaimers: I do not live in Ferguson, Missouri. I do not identify as African American. I am pale and Caucasian and middle class living in South City St. Louis.

I am also angry and heartbroken. I am discouraged and saddened. And I am full of tears.

Driving to work today, I took the long way. It's the way I go to work when I know that I need to slow down and take a deep breath. This route is off the interstate, running through an extremely wealthy city in St. Louis County. It is beautiful.

But . . . there is no one out on the perfectly manicured lawns. There are no tear gas containers lying in the middle of the street. There are not excessively well-armed police officers forming a line with armored trucks leading the way forward. And there certainly is not a young unarmed black man lying in the middle of the street with six bullet wounds.

I am angry.

I am angry that it's so easy for us to separate ourselves from the struggles of those whose skin appears different.

I am angry that I cannot even imagine what it is like for a person of color to stroll down the street, or walk through a store, or drive through an unknown, predominantly white neighborhood.

I am angry that as much as I love and celebrate diversity in this world, in my city, in my life . . . I am still afraid.

This week the words “white privilege” have been bandied about in blogs and articles. So, I might as well jump on the band wagon. I am afraid that my “white privilege” allows me to ignore the realities of life for young men and women like Mike Brown.

I am afraid that I will allow myself to get too comfortable in my “white privilege” to even recognize it for what it is.

I am afraid that more young black men have to die ridiculous deaths before the majority of us with “white privilege” will stand up and speak out.

But somewhere deep down inside me I think I am hopeful. I am hopeful that the angel’s words, Christ’s words and God’s words “Do not be afraid” will become manifest in me and in all of us.

I'm hopeful that we will be so outraged by the injustice and pain of racism that we will step out on faith and hold onto one another.

I have hope that those who perpetrate injustice on others will be shut down because they will be called out by our weeping voices singing the songs of our faith.

I have hope that God’s love is stronger than our hate.

That God’s grace is bigger than our misunderstanding.

That God’s forgiveness is bigger than our sin.

I have hope that those of us who forget that we are privileged because we are white, and that those of us who don’t recognize that privilege, will both take the difficult lessons we're learning in Ferguson as a lesson in faith—faith in the Jesus who heals, feeds, and loves calls us to honor, respect, and cherish the life of every person. Every person. There are no exceptions.

I am angry. I am afraid. But I have faith.

I know that God’s peace and God’s justice does not look like my own.

I know I can learn from the chaos of Ferguson. But, I don’t want another person, another unarmed black man shot down because he might be threat. I know that is not God’s peace. I know that is not God’s justice.

Michael Brown, Worship this Sunday, and Confusing Unity with Comfort

By Sandhya Jha

I am tired of my church breaking my family’s heart. I wasn’t going to write about Michael Brown. Many others have already done so, reflectively and powerfully, including writing about the role of the White church in the midst of this moment of pain. I wasn’t going to write about it because I’ve written on it before. And I’ve preached on it. And I’ve posted and I’ve tweeted and I’ve shouted at rallies for Alan Blueford and Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant. I wasn’t going to write about it because I wrote about it when the church didn’t acknowledge Jordan Davis’s murderbecause…I don’t know; Stand Your Ground fatigue? Lack of information? Complexity? Lack of relevance? I wasn’t going to write because if I wrote about Michael Brown, what would I do with the stories of John Crawford (killed last week in Walmart in southern Ohio for being seen in the toy aisle with a toy gun the store was selling) orEzell Ford (shot today by the LAPD while lying down), also pressing in on me? But I am tired of the church breaking my family’s heart. And we have a chance to do something different this Sunday, if we don’t sacrifice the lives of children on the altar of unity yet again. One of my best friends goes to a multi-racial church. She’s African American. She’s raising an African American son and daughter. And she believes in a Christ who unites us. So at some cost to her culturally and for the sake of her children having worship that moves them, she worships at a church that has excellent worship and children’s programming and both Black and White men in leadership. (Yeah—that’s another issue…) During prayer time on February 16 of this year, my friend didn’t hear people lifting up the name of Jordan Davis. There was no ritual to acknowledge the continued failure of the criminal justice system in America. The fact was not grieved that Jordan Davis’s murderer is now leading a movement telling White people to Stand Their Ground whenever they see a Black man because Black men are always threatening. My friend intentionally worships at a church focused on unity. And my friend’s church broke her heart because unity is almost always unconsciously driven by the dominant culture’s lived experience and very rarely by an awareness that acts of injustice against some communities do not happen in isolation but as part of a pattern. I am tired of the church breaking my family’s heart. 

I am tired of the church unconsciously and unintentionally choosing unity but really choosing comfort. I am tired of the church unconsciously choosing comfort in the face of tragedy that should be breaking all of our hearts.   Every twenty-eight hours a Black man is killed by police in the United States. Black men who are our sons and brothers and nephews, because we chose to be a part of a faith that says we are one in the Spirit, that we are one family.   We worship a God whose son was killed unjustly by the authorities for no justifiable reason, and we denigrate the religious leaders of the time for making up disgusting justifications for why he needed to die.   And I hear people saying that this is complicated. And I hear them saying that we need more facts. And I hear them saying that the protests in response are unacceptable and so we should not look like we are condoning violence by agreeing with what drove people to violence. And I hear that law enforcement has a hard job. I definitely hear that when we talk about this, we ignore Black-on-Black violence. And I even occasionally hear that his appearance made him a target.   And I think of the crucifixion. And I think about religious leaders desiring unity. And I think about how many members of the body of Christ are an acceptable loss so that we don’t have to speak out.   I’ve been told that this prophetic ministry comes more easily to me because I’m political and have only shared this type of message in churches that are open to political messages. But a prophetic message isn’t political. A prophetic message is a message saying “God is grieving because this world is out of alignment with God’s will.” A prophetic message is a message saturated in tears and grief because real people are being harmed and God’s community is ignoring that fact. Jeremiah and Amos and Micah were not politicians. They were professional mourners.

And our desire to avoid grief – God’s grief, our family’s grief – is placing us in a dangerous position of also avoiding God’s call.

We are not being asked to be political. We are being asked to be faithful. When our family members’ hearts are breaking, our job is to mourn with them, to understand why they are mourning, to find paths of healing and reconciliation and – yes – justice.   All we are being asked to do this Sunday is to grieve. All we are being asked to do beyond this Sunday is to explore why this happens repeatedly (#every28hours) instead of explaining away every single instance. There are lots of reasons not to know about this. We don’t have conversation partners. We don’t have lived experience. We don’t know about microaggressions and disparate sentencing based on race and how race actually shapes fear responses in dangerous ways and the fact that four-year-old Black boys are learning to fear the police instead of trusting them.   Another friend texted me that he was watching CNN with his mixed race son, who said, “There’s no way that Missouri cop will get away with shooting that Black teen,” and then, “that just looks like a protest. Why are they calling it a riot?” My friend and his son will mourn, and they will discuss the pattern of injustice that devastates people from one race far more than another. That conversation will be uncomfortable but it is necessary to create the kind of unity my friend dreams of, that involves justice and equality as well as diversity. They are not religious, but I wish I knew that if they went to church, they would be able to do the same thing in a loving and supportive community.   I do not have to raise a son who has to be trained in how to reduce police officers’ anxiety, and I do not have to figure out how to explain to him that this still will not guarantee his safety. But I am part of the body of Christ with people who do. And if I don’t try to understand that experience, I’m not actually being part of the family. If I don’t mourn this loss with the rest of my family, I’m not being part of the family. If I claim that it is disruptive or trouble-making or undermining of church unity, then I am participating in breaking my family’s heart. Because grieving the untimely death of an innocent young man and thousands more like him over the years is not disuniting. It is discomforting. And we can no longer choose comfort built on the dead bodies of the innocent.

[This article first appeared at Sandhya's blog.]

Sandhya Jha serves as Director of the Oakland Peace Center (a collective of nonprofits working to create access, opportunity and dignity as the means of creating peace and justice) and as Director of Interfaith Programs at East Bay Housing Organizations (an organization that advocates for affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area). An ordained minister in the Disciples of Christ, Sandhya is also a pro-reconciliation/anti-oppression trainer and consultant with Hope Partnership for the denomination.

SCOTUS Decisions: Reflections, Part 1

By Rev. Mindi 

 Due to the SCOTUS decisions of Tuesday and pending Wednesday’s decisions, I thought I would forgo my usual Wednesday article and reflect on some of the court decisions made on Tuesday, with the idea that others may contribute reflections following the decisions announced on Wednesday morning. For a comprehensive list of the decisions made, go to http://www.supremecourt.gov/  These decisions impact us as Americans, but are often not mentioned on Sunday morning. As clergy and church leaders, I feel that it is imperative that we reflect within our faith communities on these issues and offer some way of responding, through word, action, and prayer.

Tuesday’s decision on the Voting Rights Act http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-96_6k47.pdf was a split decision, with the court upholding the 1965 act in that voting procedures must be approved by the federal government (preclearance) in areas where racial discrimination in voting practices has taken place. However, the court struck down the part of the law that dictated which states and jurisdictions were affected by this, stating that the coverage formula needed to be readdressed to be up with the times.  The Supreme Court is sending this part of the act to Congress to decide.  Seeing how it’s been difficult to get Congress to act on anything, this is frustrating to those of us who know how prejudice is still used in discriminating at the voting booth.

As people of faith, what can we do? How can we respond? I think of the number of churches that have partnered together with other organizations for voter registration drives and work to make sure those in our communities are registered to vote. Secondly, we also need to listen to those who have experienced prejudice at the polls, for those whose registrations were considered to be illegitimate, for practices that deterred others from voting. We need to make sure that we speak out for fair voting procedures in our own communities and be involved in voting rights for all citizens. And we need to speak up and take action against unfair voting practices.

Another decision on Tuesday was about adoption http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-399_8mj8.pdf This was a hard case. This story gained nationwide attention in the news, and so it’s easy to take sides and feel sympathetic with all parties involved. But what we need to keep in mind is the history of white governing officials making decisions for American Indian children, and the continued intervening and taking children away from their family and culture of origin. It’s important for us as people of faith to be mindful of our history, to be aware of how Euro-American culture is still perpetuated as American culture and that Euro-Americans still push values associated with that culture on to others.

Finally, I want to end with some reflections on a situation not in the Supreme Court but in Texas. Senator Wendy Davis, as I write this, is standing for thirteen hours without a chair or ability to lean on anything to filibuster a law that would basically prevent abortion clinics from operating in Texas http://news.yahoo.com/texas-senator-filibusters-against-abortion-bill-164526586.html  (side note: my husband pointed out that these rules by the Texas Senate make it so that anyone who has a disability in which they cannot stand is inherently discriminated against from being able to do their job, but I digress… somewhat).

This ban on abortion clinics and restrictions on clinics and doctors ignores Roe V. Wade, ignores the laws that protect a woman’s right to choose and places women’s health and responsibility to make choices about her health.  I have written in the past about the need for both sides on the issue of abortion to come together and find some common ground in reducing abortions, but laws like these will not reduce abortions. Many women will be forced to go out of state, possibly into Mexico where the health regulations for such clinics are not at the same standards in the United States, and many more will probably receive unsafe, illegal abortions. Besides abortion, many of these clinics provide health screenings, birth control, counseling and other vital services to low-income women, and they will be shut down because of one procedure they perform that is controversial. Also, all abortions would be banned after 20 weeks. Seeing how the 20 week mark is the screening ultrasound date that is covered under most insurance policies and not before that, many women and doctors do not know that there is any health risk to fetus or mother until that point, and under Texas law if it passes, it would be too late.

As people of faith, we may differ on the issue of abortion, but we need to stand up for women’s health in the case of extreme measures. The Texas law will go too far, will ignore the Constitution and will trample on women’s health.  I’ve shared in previous articles about the need for conversations on health, birth control, and sex in general in the church to reduce abortions and raise the level of women and men’s health.  As leaders, we cannot be afraid of speaking out on these issues, when people's very lives and health are at risk.

*****

As people of faith, we watch and wait in earnest for Wednesday’s decisions on DOMA and Prop 8. We pray for justice to be done, for freedom to be upheld, and most of all, for love to prevail. Check back for reflections here after the decisions are released.

White Need to Talk About Race and Privilege

By J.C. Mitchell

I remember getting ready for school when I was a pre-teen on March 17.  I was certainly wearing green and then I put my favorite jacket as it was a chilly morning.  My mother was adamant I not wear the Mets jacket I wore most days.  She was yelling at me about wearing orange.  I argued that the jacket was blue and simply had orange lettering for the Mets, I was sure that was fine since it was clear I was wearing green and would take my jacket off when I would arrive at school.  My mom was not happy with me, and needless to say I went to school with an older jacket.  I knew we were Irish, but I had no clue about the Troubles and that Orange was the color of the Loyalists and Green the color of the Nationalists, and I certainly did not understand why that should matter in my Connecticut School.

I share this experience because I find it funny, and I believe my mother’s passion should be honored.  One should be proud of their heritage and should not forget the injustices and oppression of your ancestors, be it because of ethnicity, ability, sexuality, gender, skin color, or whatever I might have missed.  I believe there was certainly oppression to the Irish, and I had experienced some of this reality when I lived in Northern Ireland.  However, this reflection is not about The Troubles, or even about immigration; it is about being White.

I had no idea what it meant to be White, when I had to put my Mets jacket aside that day.  I thought I was White, but that was always defined against other people, specifically skin color and/or language--specifically Spanish, yet not those that spoke Castilian Spanish.  I learned between my argument with my mother and living in Belfast that Irish immigrants became White, and not simply because of our pink complexion.  There are certainly many social and political things that occurred that made me, my ancestors and my descendants, White.

However, of all of us that are now in the privileged status of White in the United States, we don’t talk about our inclusion in this label (and it is a label, but with much privilege).  We avoid the subject.  We often invite people that are not White to talk about this subject.  I have been at many conferences and assemblies where the conversation on race, immigration, ethnicity, or diversity is being ran by the small group of people assembled at the gathering that are not White. 

I remember watching the film Traces of the Trade. I was moved by such a film maker who challenged White people to talk about slavery and the economy that all of us benefited from such cheap labor.  She traced her family roots, discovered not only did her family have slaves, profited greatly from the slave trade.  Even us Irish, who came later, benefited from this reality, which we cannot deny.  If we do not have this conversation, we are doomed to keep seeing people who are not White as a deficit that we must find a way to include in our discourse, because White will only be defined by those not.  So even when we desire diversity, we are looking for those that are non-White to give us the answer, instead of having the real conversation ourselves.   It will be difficult, especially as it will often reveal privilege, even for those that worked hard.   If we have the hard discussion, and read and interact with theologies from non-White perspectives, we will benefit, even if it means a larger table.

I know this to be important because I observe that my experience as a child of a first generation mother has many similarities with immigrants today.  But I don’t want to be naïve to claim my experience is just like theirs, for there is a great complexity, but if those who are White are not able to admit this complexity of our own history, how are we truly to live into the diversity we uphold?

Currently I often speak and write about inclusion of people with disabilities, and many of us who do promote the civil rights of those with different abilities, are directly affected by disabilities.  One of the things I often dream of is for people without disabilities to have the conversation (in an intelligent and educated way) of what it means to inclusive of people of all abilities.  It would require very thoughtful and real conversation about the privileges one has in a society and how we assume normal.  We do the same thing with race—even with great intentions; we assume what is normal, if we do not talk about it. We need to be open to different views, our privilege, and the fact sometimes we are wrong.  And certainly we do learn from being wrong—well, at least I know I do.

 

 

 

mr met.jpg

The Thin Line Between Authority and Fear

By Lee Yates

I grew up in the Church. Not just any Church.
I grew up in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). It is what I know.

I am too young to have scars from the “restructure” era conflicts.
I have always understood my church as a denomination.

I am too optimistic to have felt really threatened by other “re-“ something movements.
I have always understood my church to be united at its core.

Now, I find myself scared.
And I know I’m not alone.

Listening to friends and family in the Church, I hear lots of fears expressed.
Fears of change
Fears of theological difference
Fears of lost identity
Fears of division
Fears of intolerance
Fears of apathy

So, what am I afraid of?

Confessional time….

I am afraid that my personal racism keeps me from non-biased theological reflection.
AND
I am afraid that my fear of being racist also keeps me from holding true to what I believe.

I have been struggling with the issue of diversity.

My heart leaps for joy when I participate in an ethnically diverse event.
I know how hard it is to build trust and community across cultural lines.
Our work as a pro-reconciliation / anti-racism church has been transformative.
While we are no where near done with this work, I can see its powerful impact.
The Church I grew up in has changed!

Looking back, I give thanks for God’s open table…
The table that welcomed my mother and wife as ordained clergy.
The table that welcomed me as a youth, who many thought should remain silent.
The table that welcomes my children today.

It is this table that continues to call us to welcome others.

In that spirit, we have put amazing efforts into creating a diverse and open table.
In that spirit, we have tried to make sure every voice is heard and affirmed.

Now, when we celebrate the “Lord’s Supper”, it takes more colors than Lenoardo DaVinci ever imagined to paint our picture.

So, why am I scared?

I’m scared that our more diverse table has become less open.
I’m scared that the very openness that brought so many of us together is being lost.
I’m scared that the theological differences inherent in our diversity will forever change…

Oh crap! I just admitted to being afraid of CHANGE!!

This is where the conflict in my heart (and I believe in our life as Church) gets complicated.

What happens when our focus on diversity brings people to the table who do not hold the same values?

-Ordination of women
-Weekly communion
-Importance of education (faith and reason)
-Unity as a common vision
-An OPEN TABLE.

To me, these are not negotiable.
They are part of our historic, theological, and communal identity as Disciples of Christ.
They are told in our common history in the Stone-Campbell movement.

To others, these are still up for debate.

Don’t believe me?
Talk to those who interview candidates for ministry.

For me, this raises some important questions:

1. How do we navigate theological issues that divide us without making it personal, cultural, ethnic or stereotypical?

2. How do we move forward in our quest for unity with all God’s people without breaking relationship the rest of God’s people?

In realty, we have been wrestling with the second one for generations. Unfortunately our answer seems to have been division. In our quest for unity we have simply divided, leaving in our wake mistrust and disappointment.

And I’m back to my fear of CHANGE!

Some might think I’m just bashing the theological voice of our constituency groups.
That is not the case. I am so thankful for the gifts that diversity has brought us.

Disciples NEED to be reminded that the Spirit moves in unexpected ways.
Disciples NEED to be challenged to make passion and emotion part of their faith.
Disciples NEED to reclaim words like witness, testimony and evangelism.
Disciples NEED to be reminded that we are not a finished produce. God is still at work!

I am thankful for the gifts of our diversity.
I am also thankful for my fear of being a racist.
-Sometimes it makes me listen again to a perspective I want to ignore.
-Sometimes it makes me listen again to my own words and biases.
-Sometimes it makes me think before I speak.

I don’t want our Church to enter another time of division.
I don’t want our Church to loose the identity that means so much to me.
I don’t want to lose the diversity we have gained in the quest for more diversity.
I don’t want to stop seeking more diversity just because I’m scared of the conflict.

So, in my mind, I’ve boiled all this down to issues of authority.
-Traditional (OK, Caucasian) Disciples value the reasoned study of scripture.
-Others challenge us to respect tradition and interpretations of scripture it holds.
-Others challenge us to let experience of the spirit’s movement guide us.
-Others challenge us to hold tight to “no book but the Bible.”

While these differences might be evident in our ethnic groupings,
they are also seen in EVERY congregation!
We seem to work it out there (with varying degrees of success).
Why does it seem so overwhelming within our denominational family?

So, I come back to fear… my fear and yours.

To my friends with whom I disagree theologically:
I’m scared of your authority and feel attacked by it.
I know you also feel judged by mine and I apologize.

To my friends with whom I agree theologically:
I’m scared of your certainty in our authority and feel like you are judging others with it.
I know you feel confused by my lack of conviction and I apologize.

I’m scared.

I’m guessing Stone and Campbell had the same fears when they joined together.
I’m guessing the Christian Women’s Missionary Society had the same fears when they merged in with other mission bodies.
I’m guessing the National Convocation had similar fears as God led them into full union with the Disciples of Christ.

I think of the angel speaking to Mary, “Be not afraid.”
Yeah, right!!

So, what do I suggest we do about this tension?
What way forward do I recommend?
Well, I have LOTS to say about that… but… I’ll leave all that for later.

Right now, I just feel called to name my fear.
Right now, I just feel called to claim my fear.

Right now, I just ask for prayers, that an angel might greet us all and say,

“Be not afraid.”

Acting your way into a new way of thinking.

This summer a visiting pastor made a remark in his sermon that has stayed with me.  He said it was easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than it was to think your way into a new way of acting.  As part of a church that seeks to be missional and followers of Jesus, this hit me hard.  Praying to be good servants, praying for compassion, praying for ministries t hat really serve is thinking your way into acting.  And I've done it far too long. Acting my way into a new way of thinking is going to be a greater challenge.  If you act, you risk failure.  Or perhaps even scarier, you risk success!  Then what?  I am a Licensed Professional Minister and the Adult Ed. liaison at an intentional home church in the DOC tradition.  We are doing a study on racism, which has been interesting in a room full of white people.  But at some point, study has to stop and we have to take on action.  What are we going to do in response to what we have learned?

The most important thing, or one of them, I believe, is to be aware of our white privilege as we choose and carry out actions.   What actions we take could have a million forms, but if we are not aware of our privilege and how that shapes what we are doing, our actions risk harming, not assisting in liberation.

I am the quotation queen and I have another one to go with this post and topic.

"If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come here because your liberation is wrapped up in mine, let us work together." (Lilla Watson)

As a traditionally white church (which is changing on a national level) we must be aware that our liberation IS wrapped up in the liberation of others.  And we can study, be aware, and pray all we want, but until we begin to act our way into a new way of thinking, the old way will remain.

I can't wait to see what actions come out of our study.  This church has existed for more than fifteen years and has taken several prophetic stances and has always backed them up with direct action.  This is an exciting time for me.  This is an exciting time for the church, my little local one and the larger church...we get to act our way into a new way of thinking, aware that our liberation is tied up in that of others.  Let's go and do it!

By Sherril Morris