Dear Church Community,
It’s hard, isn’t it? Talking about racism, that is. We believe Black Lives Matter and put the words on our signs, but actually talking about racism is a challenge. And yet, we must. As I preached in last Sunday’s sermon, it’s time to ask:
In what ways are we actively working against racism? In what ways are we continuing to center whiteness and promote white privilege? These are hard questions, and they’ll force us to confront some difficult truths. But I think it’s time. I think we’re ready. And I believe we can do this hard thing.
We’ll stumble, make mistakes, and have disagreements along the way. But we’ll learn, stretch, grow, and, ultimately, transform.
This is humbling work for those of us who are white (with a reminder that not everyone in our congregation is). White people (including me) often want so badly to do the right thing. And yet, as part of a racist system, we have many blind spots. Thus, we’re apt to get it wrong. Which is okay. Because we’re not the experts. We need to cede the stage to other voices— Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)—without expecting them to do the work for us. And we need to take it one step at a time.
I suggest that the next step for our church is a Racial Justice Audit. This term may sound officious, but it’s really just a process of self-examination around issues of racism and racial justice. The root of the word, audit, means “to listen,” and we’ll listen to ourselves, fellow congregation members and friends, and, especially, BIPOC voices both within and without our church.
I hope you’ll join me this Sunday after worship for a Coffee Hour Conversation about this audit. It will be a time to hear about the background, context, and intent of the process, meet the team of congregation members coordinating it, and ask any questions you have about it. In preparation, we’ve developed a short Q&A handout. I encourage you to read it and bring additional questions to the conversation.
UCC General Synod
The biannual meeting of our denomination will take place, virtually, each evening from July 11-18. This year’s Synod will feature two compelling keynoters—Valerie Kaur, a documentary filmmaker and social justice activist, and Adam Russell Taylor, president of Sojourners. Other highlights include worship services, plenary sessions, and fifty workshops on a wide range of topics. Registration is $100 for non-delegates, and our congregation is able to cover this cost if needed. We could also use another delegate if you’re interested. If you’d like to register, please contact Dan, email@example.com.
Digital Deacons Needed!
You may have heard that we’re planning to resume in-person worship by the end of summer. However, we’ll continue to have people Zooming in (from NC, NY, MT, FL, IA, MD, VA, DC…) as well. This is called hybrid worship, and in order to do it successfully we’ll need at least one Digital Deacon each Sunday to help with the tech aspects of the service. If this is something you’d be willing to do once in a while, please let me know ASAP. Our Communications and Technology Committee is mighty, but small, so we need to train a few more people in this area. Teens are welcome!
Medical Debt Relief
Remember when we joined ten local UCC churches last spring to raise money for medical debt relief? Well, I have good news. We just received word from RIP Medical Debt that the money we helped raise has relieved nine million dollars of medical debt for individuals and families in MD, DE, WV, and NJ. Hooray!
The Potomac Association is holding a press conference next Tuesday at 10 am in front of Westmoreland UCC to highlight the issue of medical debt and celebrate the huge amount of debt we helped relieve. All are welcome! If you have personal experience with medical debt and would be willing to speak at this press conference, please let me know.
Peace and Blessings,
P.S. Curt Canada is sitting here on the “Good Trouble” bench he installed in memory of Rep. John Lewis at the Stoddert School Garden.
Curt is ready for his second major dental surgery and needs to raise the final GoFundMe dollars to pay for it. If you’re able to make a donation so he can get this necessary dental work completed, please do!