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This is a Moment

This is a moment unlike any other I’ve experienced in my life. We have the crisis of COVID-19 that has turned our society, and the world, upside down. People are pitted against the economy and many are suffering in new ways as hunger, homelessness, and joblessness rise to unforeseen heights. Communities of color are particularly suffering the ravages of the virus. And then we have the death of George Floyd in police custody, after so many others, and many Americans have taken to the street to protest, to lament, and to call for change.
 
So where are we as individuals? As Christians? And as The Episcopal Church?  Not everyone is in the same place, of course. For many in our communities, the hatred and injustice of racist behaviors and systems is something they have lived with all their lives. Some in our churches are activists on the front lines while others want to learn more. And some may be sheltering in place, or afraid, or not know what to do next. Wherever we are individually, the Church is always called to the work of reconciliation and justice in the way of Jesus’ love.
 
In this unprecedented moment, I encourage all of our churches to offer opportunities to learn, to pray, and to act in reconciliation and justice.  The Episcopal Church has compiled resources into the three areas of Learn, Pray, Act. The lists on the page Responding to Racist Violence include litanies, sermons, lessons, and links to groups that need your donations and volunteer time. Caren and I have also compiled lists of resources for individuals and for groups. In a moment that can feel overwhelming, here are the things we can do as individuals, and churches:

  • Learn! Use the family resources (posted below) to talk to your kids about racism, and do the self-assessment

  • Read a book - join or start a book study or discussion group online (see list of books below)

  • Offer a course at your church.  I highly recommend the Sacred Ground film series available from the Episcopal Church (see description below)

  • Pray! The Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota has a liturgy to remember George Floyd, and the Episcopal Church has a Litany for Social JusticeSojourners is posting a verse, a justice quote, and a prayer every day. I have personally been using this “Franciscan Blessing” as a prayer for myself at this time.

  • Act! Take this moment to think about how you can support those in need at this time. If you are not spending money personally on gas or something else in this time of sheltering in place, think about donating that money. If churches aren’t spending money on flower memorials each week, think about asking folks to give as they usually would and then choosing the ministry that your church can support with that money. There are so many immediate needs for food and housing, but there are also organizations working for justice issues that who you might want to partner with.

As always, Caren Miles and Amy Cook are available to help you with setting up an online study, resources for personal and family study, and helping in the design of spiritual formation as we restructure our ways of being church. Please reach out.
 
Blessings,
Amy Cook

The Diocese of California Formation Office will be hosting open conversations with youth and children's ministers throughout June so we all can share strategies, ideas, prayer, and hope.


Monday, June 8 at 10 a.m. - Register Here
Thursday, June 11 at 3 p.m. - Register Here
Monday, June 15 at 11 a.m. - Register Here
Thursday, June 18 at 2 p.m. - Register Here
Monday, June 22 at 2 p.m. - Register Here
Thursday, June 25 at 10 a.m. - Register Here

Amy Cook
Working Group Head for Faith Formation
amyc@diocal.org
Caren Miles
Associate for Faith Formation
carenm@diocal.org

Resources on Race for Formation within Families 


First Step – Anti-Bias and Anti-Racist Household Self Assessment for White Christians written by Lucy Breidenthal of the Church of the Heavenly Rest in New York City.

Jennifer Harvey was a speaker at the 2018 Forma Conference. Her book Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America serves as a guide for parents to navigate these times. She spoke with NPR on May 31st. For a deeper dive into her book, Dr. Harvey was recently a guest on the Integrated Schools podcast

For the month of June, the movies Just Mercy and Selma are available for free on many streaming platforms. Both movies are PG-13, please read the parental guides before watching with youngsters (Just Mercy Guide; Selma Guide). 

Children’s story books are a great way to have difficult conversations with your kids. Embrace Race made a list of 31 children's books that cover a wide spectrum of races and cultures. 

Finally, Books for Littles has a step by step guide for parents to begin talking about race complete with books to read with your kids and questions to ask. 

Resources for Adults


Books:
Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S. by Rev. Lenny Duncan. Part manifesto, part confession, and all love letter, Dear Church offers a bold new vision for the future of Duncan's denomination (ELCA) and the broader mainline Christian community of faith. The book includes a discussion guide.

How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. Instead of working with the policies and system we have in place, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it. The website includes a discussion guide for book groups. 

Me and White Supremacy: A 28-Day Challenge to Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad. This book leads readers through a journey of understanding their white privilege and participation in white supremacy, so they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on black, indigenous and people of color, and help other white people do better, too.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. This is an illuminating look at how white, middle-class, Evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility, inviting the reader to confront apathy, recognize God's ongoing work in the world, and discover how blackness--if we let it--can save us all.

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, PhD. This book explicates the dynamics of White Fragility and how we might build our capacity in the on-going work towards racial justice. Website includes a reader's guide.

 Through June 30, 2020, Church Publishing is offering Seeing my Skin: A Story of Wrestling with Whiteness by Peter Jarrett Schell for free online. It is a personal journey of a priest’s understanding of his Whiteness widens into an invitation to wrestle with larger cultural issues of race and belonging. 

When you can, please buy these books directly from the author or a small, independent bookseller online. 


PodCasts:
Seeing White - Scene on Radio host and producer John Biewen takes a deep dive into the subject of whiteness, along with an array of scholars and regular guest Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika, in this fourteen-part documentary series, released between February and August 2017.

1619 from the New York Times - A podcast companion to the groundbreaking 1619 Project published by the NYT in August of 2019 that aims to reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.  

Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast features movement voices, stories, and strategies for racial justice. Co-hosts Chevon and Hiba give their unique takes on race and pop culture, and uplift narratives of hope, struggle, and joy, as we continue to build the momentum needed to advance racial justice in our policies, institutions, and culture. 
 

Church Level Faith Formation for Talking About Race

 

Sacred Ground is a film-based dialogue series on race and faith  published and supported by The Episcopal Church. If you would like help setting up a webinar or presenting this in your congregation, contact Amy Cook. 
 

Teaching Tolerance has put together a solid compilation of lessons and learning resources for teachers that specifically name race, racism, and police violence. 


Since we cannot visit anytime soon, the National Museum of African American History & Culture has put together and excellent set of tools to inspire conversation. They have sections for teachers, parents, and individuals. 

The Thoughtful Christian has some free lessons as well as well-curated books and downloadable lessons for purchase.

 

Links

Faith Formation blog
Forma Facebook Page
Forma Website

Copyright © 2020 Episcopal Diocese of California, All rights reserved.


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