Dear Church Community,
Yesterday was the beginning of Lent, a forty-day (not counting Sundays) season of preparation leading to Easter. This year our Lenten theme is Seeking: Honest Questions for Deeper Faith. Since the questions we ask impact the answers we receive, it’s important to bring our authentic selves to the question-asking process. I invite you to join me for a series of worship services on this theme as well as an in-person Lenten Retreat on Saturday, March 4. I’m also offering an online Lenten Series on Grief & Loss, in which we’ll discuss personal experiences of grief in the context of our faith. The group will meet most Monday evenings from 7-8 pm, and you can email me for the Zoom link.
Last Sunday I preached:
Most of us were taught some version of American exceptionalism, with its deep belief in the inherent goodness of our country. And we’ve held onto this myth for two reasons. The first is that white, mostly male voices have controlled the narrative. This is what white supremacy is: those with the power and privilege get to tell the story, make the rules, decide who’s in or out, and determine who’s given access to future power and privilege. The second is that, if we’re white, this myth benefits us, not just in terms of social power but because it feels good and tells us we’re good, and most of us want to believe we’re good.
It’s so hard for “good white people” to acknowledge our own racism, or more gently put, implicit bias, because we think it means we’re “bad.” I mean, we’re not the type of people who would use the N word or directly insult or god forbid hurt another person based on the color of their skin! Thus, we’re not “racist.” However, this is an individualistic view of racism. And racism has less to do with individual racist acts than with racist systems, history, culture, and religion, all of which are comprised of racist beliefs, rules, customs, hierarchies, actions, and assumptions…
This Black History Month, having completed our congregation’s racial justice survey almost a year ago, the time is coming to take the next steps in our call to challenge white supremacy and create racial justice. The question is: what steps will we take?
I encourage us to start by watching this free (during February) MasterClass on Black History, Freedom, & Love. The presenters include scholars such as Howard University Professor Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the 1619 Project, and UCLA School of Law Professor Kimberle Williams Crenshaw, author of the term, critical race theory. The history and knowledge they share goes far beyond the bounds of what I was taught in school, and it’s necessary information if we wish to counter our cultural myths.
As our congregation works to create a more racially just society, I hope you’ll watch this series as part of our communal commitment to educate ourselves. Please let me know if you choose to watch and stay tuned for a discussion date.
Our hard-working Racial Justice Audit Team (Holly Hancock, Layla Heimlich, Lisa Jenkins, and Dit Talley) has agreed to transition into a Racial Justice Advisory Team. They’ll meet once a quarter and be available for consult by other groups and committees of the church. They’ll also initiate some projects on their own. If you’re interested in joining this team, please email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
As its first project, the RJ Advisory Team will launch a Racial Justice Library in the church parlor this Sunday. Lisa Jenkins and Ann Lordeman are the coordinators, and you’re welcome to borrow any book using their simple sign-out system. Right now, there’s a small collection of history, biography, memoir, and children’s books, and in the coming weeks they’ll add more, especially fiction. If you have a book you’d like to donate or one you suggest they get for the library, please email email@example.com. Please do not just drop off books at the church. Thank you!
Finally, I’m grateful for your prayers for me and my family as my youngest son returns to residential treatment in North Carolina. Parenting is never for the faint of heart, and I appreciate all your support.
Blessings and Peace,