Black Lives Matter. Beyond February - Epworth Builds an Altar to Black Lives Lost

Beloved Epworth Community,


In Matthew 18:20, Jesus utters the famous words, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Though we often use this as shorthand to remind us that when we gather, God is present with us, the particular context of this scripture is Jesus’ counsel on how to resolve conflicts within a group. He is saying that collective wisdom is better than individual wisdom and that the counsel of a community is preferable to what we might be able to come up with on our own.


As we continue to untangle the threads of racism in our lives, church and community, I’m so grateful that we are doing this work in community. I want to make sure you are aware of three opportunities in the next week to pursue anti-racism in your community of faith.


The first is a discussion this Sunday, May 2, after the virtual coffee hour of I’m Black. I’m Christian. I’m Methodist. This is a collection of essays written by Black United Methodists about their experience broadly and particularly in our denomination. It is an insightful text, edited by Rev. Rudy Rasmus of Houston, Texas. The discussion will be led by Dianne Rush Woods, Greg Downs and Diane Downs. All are welcome. RSVP for the Zoom link in your inbox.


Second, the group that has been engaging anti-racist media and books since last summer is beginning a new book on Tuesday, May 4, and this is a good time to join if you’ve been wanting to read and learn with a group. The gathering will be at 6:30pm on Zoom. The new book is Isabel Wilkerson’s seminal and current book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Wilkerson’s readable scholarship is well-known and her sweeping and comprehensive approach gives a big-picture look at challenges that plague us. Caste is already referred to often in relationship to racial justice work and will continue to be a reference point. I highly encourage you to read it, even if you are not able to come to the book group. Thank you to Sally Nasman and Carol Baumbauer for leading this group.


Finally, the Beyond February group who have been creating individual tribute pieces for persons of color who have lost their lives at the hands of police will gather next Thursday from 5:30-6:30pm on Zoom to dedicate and consecrate each piece in preparation for the installation going up at the Hopkins entrance. Everyone in the Epworth community is invited and encouraged to come to the service on Zoom where each life will be honored and the person who created each tribute will have an opportunity to say a few words about the life of the person being lifted up. To honor lives lost is also grief work as each of these lives should not have been lost in this way. The life-presence of each person has been stolen from the world. And yet even as we mourn, we’ll witness to the power of hope and resurrection. You can RSVP here for the Zoom link. Thank you to Dianne Rush Woods for leading this work.


Thank you, Epworth community, for your deep commitment to growing personally and communally, as we press ever forward in dismantling the structures of racism and become more fully an anti-racist community.


Grace and gratitude,

Kristin

April 13, 2021 update:

Black Lives Matter. Every day, every week, every month.

Epworth is engaging in several actions to respond in faith to the racism that has existed in our country, our church, and our communities for centuries. Its pervasiveness requires awareness, action, and accountability.


Over the past six weeks, around two dozen Epworthians have been engaging in a project called Beyond February, to take our learnings from Black History Month and our efforts to be an antiracist church community into a year-round commitment to racial justice. Specifically, participants were asked to identify an African American person killed during their interactions with police, come to know who they were, and create an art or media piece that presents their understanding of who this person was in life. These artworks are in the process of being installed at Epworth in the windows facing out onto Hopkins Street, creating an Altar visible to all who pass. Thanks to Dianne Rush Woods, Clark Kellogg, Judy Kriege and Judy Cayot for their leadership in this project.

As Pastor Kristin stated in the Social Justice Stations of the Cross Walk, “We mourn the loss of each life and bear witness to the life force of each person. We recommit to transforming our structures of community safety and protection, and to eradicating the sin of racism and white supremacy.”

Tomorrow at 4 p.m., Michael Martin will be leading another group of Epworthians engaging in the Truth and Racial Reckoning project on the legal structure of segregation and related topics. Zoom details are provided below. If you would like to join that working group – please contact Greg Downs to be added to the email list for notification.


Next month, there are two book discussion opportunities to further our engagement:

On Sunday May 2 at 11:45 a.m., Dianne Rush Woods, Diane Downs, and Greg Downs will lead an open discussion of "I’m Black. I’m Christian. I’m Methodist" edited by Rudy Rasmus. It’s a wonderful new collections of stories from Black Methodists about their experiences in Methodism, their efforts to create an anti-racist church, and their efforts to reimagine Methodist theology. It’s a powerful and very accessible set of relatively brief pieces. RSVP here to receive the zoom link in your inbox.

Finally, the anti-racist media discussion group will resume weekly Tuesday evening discussions on May 4th, looking at "Caste" by Isabel Wilkerson. Please contact Carol Baumbauer if you’d like to be added to that email list.

3/10 Update:

Black History Month is every month… we want to take our learning, and our efforts to be an antiracist church community Beyond February.


Join us Saturday, March 13th from 10:30-11:30 am to continue conversations about a multi-media art display that will include a deep dive into learning about black individuals who were killed during interactions with the police; and an opportunity to reflect on and honor those lives in whatever art form speaks to you. For those already working on the project, it will be a time to share, ask questions, and get ideas or feedback about their art/media contribution.

All are invited.


Read the project overview here [PDF]. Please RSVP here to receive the Zoom link in your inbox.


Thank you to Dianne Rush Woods, Clark Kellogg, Judy Kriege and Judy Cayot for leading us in this project.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021 Update:

Beloved Epworth Family,


Greetings and blessings. Lent begins tomorrow. This season of self-reflection and deepening opens with Ash Wednesday, a time that reminds us of our place in the universe, and the magnitude of who God is. Many people are feeling the impact of the pandemic acutely right now. Instead of the typical practices of Lent that can be about self-denial and cutting things out, I invite you to consider how you might commit to connecting during Lent—with others, with God and with yourself.


Ash Wednesday services are an opportunity to connect. Epworth’s service will begin at 7:30 on Zoom. We’ll have music, an imposition of ashes, and move into this season together as we open our series, “Entering the Passion of Christ: Picturing Ourselves in the Story.”


As we move into this season that gets us in touch with the depths of our need and lament, I’m grateful to share with you an invitation from Dianne Rush Woods, Clark Kellogg, Judy Kriege and Judy Cayot to collaborate in a new installation that will be going on the Epworth “front porch.”

Beyond February - Epworth Builds an Altar to Black Lives Lost
 
Black History Month is every month… we want to take our learning, and our efforts to be an antiracist church community Beyond February. Here is one opportunity.
 
Join us Saturday, February 27th from 4-5 pm to kick off the production of a multi-media art display that will include a deep dive into learning about black individuals who were killed during interactions with the police; and an opportunity to reflect on and honor those lives in whatever art form speaks to you. To begin, we will discuss the education process, the art possibilities, as well as how we can support one another in this process. RSVP here to receive the Zoom link in your inbox.
 
As a community, Epworth is engaging in several actions to respond in faith to the racism that has existed in our country, our church, and our communities for centuries. Its pervasiveness requires awareness, action, and accountability. This is one way to get involved. Come, hear, and be a part of this community art project.

Thank you to Dianne Rush Woods, Clark Kellogg, Judy Kriege and Judy Cayot for leading us in this project.


Peace be with you,

Kristin

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