I first want to thank all of you for the opportunity to share with you during the September presbytery meeting about the ministry and work I do with you and on your behalf as staff of our ecclesial region – the Synod of the Northeast. Early in October I will celebrate 6 years of service alongside the synod community. It continues to be an honor to serve our broader US northeast region by encouraging missional discernment, entrepreneurship, newness.
White supremacy is a reality of US history and institutional culture. The Church is not only a participant of them. It has institutionally and theologically supported what Martin Luther King, Jr., called the three evils – racism, poverty and war. Some of us might feel like jumping and trying to defend the Church’s record on progressivism, social and justice activism, and policy statements. However, I would encourage us to know that the pursuit to be faithful to the Gospel mandates of love, peace, hospitality and justice does not solve the historical and institutional participation of the USAmerican Church in formation, encouragement, and benefit of the USAmerican ethos – white supremacy.
And because it is inescapable – the church’s institutional and social participation of and in the “three evils” (and the many-headed hydra it supports) – it is imperative to know that any plan to work against racism, poverty and imperialism is one and the same. To reach this awareness can lead the USAmerican Church to understand that the core of the work ahead is the dismantling of white supremacy. And to have that awareness and understanding should reveal that this work will require a commitment to be transformed through relationships, to face the deep criticism of USAmerican culture, and to have to heavy lift for the undoing of ecclesial, social and political structures.
Much work lies ahead. It will be long, difficult and painful work. But if we want to be found faithful in our witness of Jesus this is the work. Period.
As I shared with you in our time together, allow me to suggest what could be resources for next steps (whether you are engaging in this work for the first time, you have been discerning the work, or you have been actively engaged in the work). These are resources facilitated and curated by fellow faith-seeking leaders. For all these suggestions (and to respond to engage in anti-white supremacy work) perhaps the most important thing to know is that this work cannot be engaged in alone. This is community work. Please, repeat with me: “this is community work.” To find the communities to engage in this work is essential. So, here goes the resources I shared during the meeting:
Synod Assembly Pre-event – Details are forthcoming, but I invite you to pencil down this event.
When: Thursday, October 22
What: Two sessions (one late morning, one early afternoon) on the power of stories, and how they can encourage community for anti-racist work
Who: *Very Exciting*, our pre-event speaker, and preacher for synod assembly will be The Rev. Traci Blackmon, the Associate General Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for the sister denomination United Church of Christ
from the Office of the General Assembly (the national ecclesial branch of the Presbyterian Church, USA)
For: sessions, presbytery committees (I especially recommend for Coordination, COMAC, PJC, COR-N)
What: learning opportunities to assess what biases lie behind our discernment and decision-making structures and cultures
Who: Molly Casteel, Assistant Stated Clerk and Manager for Equity and Representation
Jihyun Oh, Associate Stated Clerk and Director of Mid Council Ministries
from the Presbyterian Mission Agency (the national mission and program branch of the Presbyterian Church, USA)
Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice Just Talk Live
For: Everyone, especially sessions, presbytery, and presbytery committees
What: Plethora of justice issues topics, engaged by experts and activists, in an intentional intersectional manner
When: Every Tuesday live at 6pm
Also archived at the Justice Unbound website
21-day Challenge prepared by the Matthew 25 Initiative
For: Everyone, especially sessions and other learning communities
What: guided, 21-day engagement on issues of race, racism, and justice
Where: PC(USA) Presbyterian Mission website
From More Light Presbyterians
Liberation Bible Studies
For: Everyone, especially sessions, presbytery committees, and other learning communities
What: a consideration of the biblical text, using Lectio Divina as methodology, considering the intersection of identities of LGBTQIA+ folks, people of color, activists, theologians, and pastors and leaders.
Where: Archive and for more information
These are, again, just some resources for the next few steps. The journey ahead is long. But in being the community Jesus intends for us to be, we can shift the narrative, act reconciliation, and witness to good news.