We recognize racism as sin and affirm the ultimate and temporal worth of all persons. We rejoice in the gifts that particular ethnic histories and cultures bring to our total life. We commend and encourage the self-awareness of all racial and ethnic groups and oppressed people that leads them to demand their just and equal rights as members of society.”(Social Principles, ¶ 162 B)
The General Commission on Religion and Race in partnership with the Council of Bishops, United Methodist Women, the General Board of Church and Society and United Methodist Communications, is hosting panel discussions on dismantling racism.
Experts come together to talk about the history of racism and what the church can do–both as a body and as individual members–to move toward racial justice.
UMC Town Hall: Dismantling Racism
Days before July 4, 2020, a day when many in the United States reflect on our nation’s history, The United Methodist Church held a conversation in our Dismantling Racism: Pressing on to Freedom series. Many are wrestling with how we can most faithfully understand and interpret the realities of this present moment. We pray and hope for a yet-unrealized future where Black lives matter as much to our nation’s decision-makers—and to each person of faith—as they do to our almighty God.
“Freedom doesn’t just show up; we go in search of it.”Erin Hawkins, General Commission on Religion & Race
Resources for Racial Justice
It’s when we face for a moment the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know the taint in our own selves, that awe cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart. – Denise Levertov
Let us be so cracked open today.
Prompts for Contemplation
Proverbs 31:8 “Speak out for those who cannot speak…” We are called to seek out and speak out for the interests of other in the world – because that is how God is seen in the world. We are called to speak out for the voices that have been silenced by brutality and violence and death.
- What do we say, how do we speak out, as individuals? As the church?
- How do we, as people of faith respond to racial inequality and systemic violence is our country at this moment in time?
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” ― Teresa of Avila
And I would add, Christ has no voice in this world but yours, no voice but ours.
“If holding your ground is what you are called to most days, it helps to know your ground.” Kathleen Norris
What is your ground? Where do you stand?
As the church what is our ground and where do we stand?
“God is compassionate, loving kindness. All we’re asked to do is be in the world who God is. Certainly compassion was the wallpaper of Jesus’ soul, the contour of his heart, it was who he was. I heard someone say once, “Just assume the answer to every question is compassion.” Greg Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart
… the truest measure of compassion lies not in our service to those on the margins, but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them. Our brothers and sisters.
And this little poem written after the death of Eric Garner, which ends in breath, in breathing which you and I are free to do, breath we have been blessed with, breath we must now transform into words and maybe tears.
“A Small Needful Fact”
by Ross Gay
Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.
Resources for Group Study
More from UMC.org
General Commission on Race and Religion
For Personal Study and Reflection
Book Recommendations from Laura Healy
My personal recommendations . . .
Waking up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
More Book Recommendations
Books about kinship, Tattoos on the Heart and Barking to the Choir by Greg Boyle
Perception of others and otherness: Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
Where we stand , in all our mistakes and imperfection, is holy ground. Greg Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart
“There is no force in the world better able to alter anything from its course than love.” Greg Boyle
“We are not called to be successful, but faithful.” How can we be faithful in this moment? Mother Teresa
“Sometimes hope is a radical act.” Anne Lamott
“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” Alice Walker
“Anything dead coming back to life hurts.” Toni Morrison, Beloved
“The function of freedom is to free someone else.” Toni Morrison
“Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind.” – Toni Morrison
“I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.” Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
Prayer for Social Justice
Almighty God, source of true justice and peace,
in you there is no distinction of persons,
for in you we are equally loved.
Reconcile us that we may live and work
with each other and with you
to establish your Kingdom on earth
where there is no poverty, war, or any oppression,
through Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.
Prayer of Examen
After reviewing and reflecting on the ideas that were presented, ask God to bring clarity and understanding of the material you have read and heard. Review the events of this day.
Pay attention to the feelings you experience as you recognize your connection to racial justice and injustice. What causes you to feel angry, frustrated, discouraged, sorrowful, isolated, etc.? Did you connect to ideas that brought feelings of comfort, encouragement, joy or peace? Look deeply at what God is saying to you through these feelings. Where is God’s voice in it? What ideas are hard to accept? With what are you struggling? Sometimes it is right to step away from untruths, but other times the barrier may come from too-ready judgement, self-righteousness or arrogance. Tell God how you feel; ask for God’s forgiveness and help.
Turn your reflection to the day ahead. How might your understanding be applied? Ask God for wisdom and courage to act in ways that increase racial justice and bring healing to yourself and others. Do all this in the spirit of gratitude.
End your Examen with the Lord’s Prayer or a prayer for racial justice.