When we closed the doors of our building a year ago, we sprang into action as a virtual church, never imagining that we would still be apart at Easter. As the weeks went by, we realized we needed a sustainable rhythm because this time would be a marathon and not a sprint.
I’m writing you today to give you an update on our progress to “Begin a learning journey to become an antiracist congregation, and start taking meaningful actions as a faith community.” Our experience in the pandemic over the past year reminds me that in our antiracism efforts as well, we must build a foundation that sustains us for the duration. This will be a lifelong journey, not a quick fix.
Next week, Council will begin our long-awaited facilitator-led racial equity training with Cynthia MacLeod and Diane Schmitz, who were recommended to us from their work with University UCC. We’re excited to have Sarah Nassif join us for these sessions. In the coming months, she’ll lead a new racial equity team that will continue to work with the facilitators to bring the entire congregation into the conversation. At this point, I can’t say much about the training other than I’m excited to begin and hope you’ll join me in praying that it will be insightful and lead us to the next step in the path.
I also want to acknowledge the efforts of others to lift up diverse voices in our community. We watched the sermon “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” from Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III during worship, Stephen O’Bent and the music staff have been intentionally choosing pieces written by POC composers (such as this beautiful anthem from Mark A Miller), and the folks in the Social Justice studies class have been reading How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. I know many of you have started to explore the topic of racism on your own as well, and I look forward to sharing and discussing your learnings together. As our antiracism efforts continue in the months and years to come, I hope you’ll join in all the opportunities you can to learn, reflect, and take action with our community.
Kaarin Shumate, Moderator