Our Commitment to Racial Justice

A Message from Pastor Kristin - 6/11/2020 - Excerpted


Beloved Epworth Community,


The outpouring of pain and protest since George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis has sparked a renewed revolution. We at Epworth know that we have more to do to further racial justice and I thank you all for your emails, suggestions, resources, and postings.


Out of the many conversations I’ve had [in the wake of the Floyd's killing] with Epworth’s African American elders, lay leaders, ministry area conveners and others concerned about racial justice, an approach to racial justice work over the next 12 months for Epworth has emerged. This approach falls into three categories:

  1. Circle Process and Holy Conferencing

  2. White Folks Work

  3. Racial Justice in and through Epworth.

Circle Process and Holy Conferencing

We have used Holy Conferencing to discern about becoming a Sanctuary Church and to prepare for the Special General Conference of 2019. Circle Process is a form of Holy Conferencing that ensures voices are heard and makes space to listen for where the Spirit is leading.

Over the next 12 months, we’ll engage three Circles:

  • A space for Epworth pastors to hear from African American members in our community about their experience at Epworth and beyond, and to understand where we could move more fully into being Beloved Community

  • A circle to hear the experience of our youth and young adults vis-à-vis race and racial justice. 

  • A circle of hope and healing

White Folks Work

One hopeful dimension to this moment is the number of white folks recognizing that all who are white in this country have benefited from white supremacy and have been formed by racist structures. The dismantling of these internalized structures, as well as the repentance and reparation needed from white folks, needs particular attention. To this end, white folks in particular are asked to engage in the following:


Professionally led group training in anti-racism (date(s) to be determined)


Small groups for learning and accountability: Sally Nasman and Carol Baumbauer are convened a group which will read White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.

Individual training online. There are many options available, including:

Let me know if you do one of these trainings or find a group to engage the work together. Some of these have no cost and some have a fee. Remember that folks doing these trainings also need support so if you can contribute via a donation or fee please do so. If the fee is too large, most of these operate on sliding scales.


Racial Justice in and through Epworth

Congregational Work

Dianne Rush Woods and Karla Suomala have offered to follow up on the themes engaged through the Winter Bible Institute. Dr. Sharon Jacob, assistant professor at Pacific School of Religion, will led a two-part Bible Study exploring New Testament readings through a racial justice lens.

 

History and reparation

We will explore Epworth’s own history vis-à-vis racial justice and consider action for reparation and reconciliation. Greg Downs and Michael Martin are leading this effort.

Art and visible solidarity

It’s been suggested that we add to our visible solidarity of the rainbow doors an expression that lifts up our support for Black lives and racial justice. If this sparks your imagination, please email Artist in Residence, Clark Kellogg, kellogg@berkeley.edu.


I hope that everyone in our congregation will be involved in at least one aspect of this work over the next year. There are many ways to be involved and protest and advocacy continue to be important in systemic change for racial justice. This framework focuses on our life together as a congregation and can change and evolve over time. This work is a life-long engagement, so next year we will pause and see where we are and how far we have come. I am excited and grateful for your partnership in this work.


Even as we are sheltering in place, these are times of much urgency and possibility. Thank you for being a congregation that keeps striving to truly be Beloved Community.


With love,

Pastor Kristin

Further Reading:


Racial Justice Resources: https://www.epworthberkeley.org/post/racial-justice-resources


Pastor Kristin's column 6/2/2020:


There is much we can do in terms of reading, educating ourselves, and making financial contributions. But we also need to be much more engaged in movement work and with the lives and needs of Black Americans in our own community. In the coming weeks, I’ll be working with our Racial Justice Task Force and Epworth’s leaders to map out a comprehensive plan of action for Epworth.


In the meantime, may we know that the God who came to us as one of us has endured what we endure, and has given us Power for the Purpose to which we are called. Grace, peace and love to each of you.


Pastor Kristin


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