A version of this post originally appeared in the Crest to Coast Missional District Newsletter on September, 1, 2020.
By Rev. Kathleen Weber
Recently, a colleague of mine asked “what are you doing to meet this moment of racial reckoning in our country?”
It’s a stark and important question. The pain and anguish of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community is palpable right now. Police brutality and historic, systemic racism are front and center in the news, on social media and in our lives. We all play a role (whether we want to or not) in how this moment of racial reckoning will go in our families, communities and country, and especially our churches.
As I start to reflect on what I’m doing to meet this moment of racial reckoning, I think about the book group I joined this summer with seminary friends. We are working our way through How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. Our conversations have been open, honest, raw, compelling and accountable as we seek to understand our history, what it means to be anti-racist and how we can choose anti-racist words and actions in our daily lives. I think about the podcast discussion group with some clergy in our district. Together we are listening to 1619, a podcast based on the written work by Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times. We discuss how the history and personal stories shared connect with our own histories and stories. We seek to deepen our understanding of one another and historic racism in addition to creating space for accountability as we seek to engage more intentionally in racial justice. I also think about how Danae and I are attempting to more intentionally participate in our local community by attending virtual city council meetings where policing policies will be addressed, pushing for sustained community dialogue about racial justice and holding one another accountable when we see or say something that’s rooted in racism.
It is good and important work. But for all of the essays, blogs and books I read by Black authors, for all the justice conscious conversations I’m in, for all the history I’m re-learning for the first time, there are countless moments that I have (and still do) remained silent, intentionally turned away from news or conversation about racial reckoning because “I just can’t deal with it right now” or am ignorant of the ways my privilege shows and advantages me. I am far from competent on anti-racism, but I am committed to the journey and the work.
Which is why I am asking you – what are you doing to meet this moment of racial reckoning in our country?
I really am curious to know what you are doing – on your own or with your church community.
I know many in our district are engaging. It would be good to hear and share what is happening around the district. The work looks different depending on whether you identify as white, black, indigenous or person of color. If you need some ideas, you can check out some of our denominational resources:
- Greater Northwest Area Commitment to Confront Racism – A resource page in our own GNW area.
- Boise 1st UMC’s Removal of Stained Glass Window – Read one way that First United Methodist Church of Boise (Cathedral of the Rockies) is meeting this moment of racial reckoning.
- NAMI Seattle BIPOC Mental Health Resources – Though based in Seattle, there is a good list of resources for BIPOC folkx looking for support during this trauma filled time.
- GCORR’s 30 Days of Anti-Racism – Check out this September opportunity from the United Methodist General Commission on Religion and Race. It is meant to help “us to become more anti-racist in the ways we think and act.”
- GCORR’s Online Course: You Are Here: First Steps for White Christians on Race and Racism
- GCORR’s Online Course: Anti-racism 101: Required Skills for White People Who Want to Be Allies
- GCORR Blog on Overt and Covert Racism
If you are doing something to meet this moment of racial reckoning, somehow engaging in the work of confronting racism (even if you are just beginning), take a moment to let me know. I want to hear your stories and, as appropriate, share the work our district is engaging in right now.
Rev. Kathleen Weber serves as District Superintendent for the Crest to Coast Missional District of The Pacific Northwest Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.