In the UCC Statement of Faith, we say together that our church binds in covenant “faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races.” How can we make these words our own, in a world where racism is at the heart of so much conflict and tragedy?
Several of our members attended the POWER training on Race, Faith, and Power last month, where the Rev. Alvin Herring talked about the necessity of sharing stories that we don’t often tell people. He asked us to move past “elevator conversations” and surface talk about race into how we really feel and what we need each other to know so that we are prepared to confront the sin of racism.
At Old First, our Lenten House Meetings offer a timely opportunity to bring more of our members into this Sacred Conversation.
“For those of us who are White, neither the sins of our ancestors nor our own past failures to confront racism, need mire us in guilt.
For those of us who have suffered the ravages of racism, neither our rightful indignation nor our temptation to despair need keep us from trusting once again.
We are blessed by the abundant grace of a forgiving God, a God who knows our pain and will be with us in our healing. Our call is to trust that reconciliation is possible, but can only be achieved by beginning the process together.” (2008 UCC Pastoral Letter on Racism).
“It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.” This ancient rabbinical teaching reminds us that these conversations are the beginning of a journey, a time to share personal stories and to get to know one another on a deeper level, to listen and to hear how race and racism have impacted our lives. We hope that our Sacred Conversation will help us open up more and more in safe, supportive, and loving settings, spaces where we can tell our own truths and prepare ourselves to hold the truths of others. We also hope that our Lenten Conversation on Race will help us find ways to keep the conversation going, and move on to action.
Stay tuned for more details on times, places, and dates of the House Meetings. For more background, read the UCC’s Pastoral Letter on Racism: A New Awakening (Jan. 15, 2015)
for the Sacred Conversation on Race Ministry Team