Because Jesus calls us to love our neighbor, and Paul testifies that in Jesus Christ, there is no longer male or female, Jew or Greek, slave or free, and because our Baptismal vows calls us to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they may present themselves, we have created space during our North Central Jurisdiction where we will struggle with what it means for each of us to become anti-racist followers of Jesus. Your planning team invites you into a time of self-reflection as you prepare for our November 10 th session.
- We invite you to hold the delegates, leaders, and bishops of the NCJ conference in prayer as we engage the hard truth of racism.
- Lectio Divina of Psalm 98
Lectio Divina is a contemplative practice to engage scripture. Please set aside time in a quiet space where you can sit comfortably and read Psalm 98 three times reflecting on the following questions:
a. After the first reading: What word, phrase, or image stood out for you?
b. After the second reading: What insight does this scripture provide about becoming anti-racist?
c. After the third reading: What is God calling you to be or do differently in your life through this scripture?
- Take 19 minutes to listen to The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Click Here To Watch
After watching it, reflect on the following questions:
a.What single stories have you noticed that others have about you? What do you wished they would also see?
b.When is a time you remember seeing a person or a group of people through a single story? How has this limited your ability to know who that person or group of people truly are?
- If you have time, take an additional 4 minutes to watch “4 Rules for Achieving Peace and Justice” by Bryan Stevenson
Click Here to Watch
After watching it, reflect on the following question:
a. What does it mean for you to protect your hope?
The NCJ Anti-Racism planning team (April Gutierrez, Pam Hammond McDavid, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, Michelle Oberweis Lacock, Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, Paul Perez, Bishop Tracy Smith Malone, and Dee Stickley-Miner,) thanks you for intentionally preparing for our November 10 conversation. We look forward to learning from each other as we follow God’s Spirit into uncomfortable spaces where we will experience anew what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Authentic Conversations to Help Church Dismantle Racism
Below is additional information from the Anti-Racism Planning Team regarding how the small groups will function. Also please note that we shared the wrong Psalm in our original communication with you. We invite you to read Psalm 84 using the Lectio Divina process. We apologize for this error and hope that reading the other Psalm fed your soul.
The leadership of the Anti-Racism Planning Group of the North Central Jurisdiction seeks to provide facilitated conversation that includes teaching, recorded storytellers, and small group discussion, based on Psalm 84 and Bryan Stevenson’s work around the four pillars of justice: truth-telling, proximity to pain, protecting our hopefulness and acknowledging that this will be hard work.
The small groups will include a majority of White members, reflecting our current denominational reality. Our diverse planning team, comprised of 75% Black, Latinx, and Indigenous members felt strongly that having conversations in groups reflective of our current denominational demographics is an important illustration of the bigger challenge at hand.
You will explore and discern what it means for you to be a follower of Jesus committed to becoming Anti-Racist, explore the complex nature of anti-bias work in the church, and deepen your commitment to becoming anti-racist. Recognizing that The United Methodist Church is currently a denomination that is 94% White (https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/religious-denomination/united-methodist-church/, the Anti-Racism Planning Group discussed at length how to approach the small group portion of our time together. The small groups will be consistent throughout the conference and set by the NCJ Secretary.
Please give some thought to the following questions as we prayerfully prepare for our time together.
• How do we grow faithful disciples reflective of our diverse neighborhoods recognizing that we have failed to do so thus far?
• Who is missing from the table and how might we be hospitable in our efforts?
• What can we do today to ensure this is a safe, courageous and respectful conversation among colleagues and disciples of Christ?
• What does it mean for us to recognize and affirm the trauma of racism many have experienced in life and within the church?
We know that for some, this may present a challenge due to the traumatic experiences of similar conversations. It is our collective belief and hope that this will be one conversation that begins to change the way we see and listen to each other.
Michelle Oberwise Lacock
Bishop Tracy Smith Malone
Pam Hammond McDavid
Bishop Gregory V Palmer
Bishop Hope Morgan Ward