Racial Justice and Reconciliation
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.” – 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
“But if we’re not careful, it is quite possible and tempting to be more in love with the idea of reconciliation than to actually engage in the actual work of reconciliation—the arduous, painful, and messy marathon work of reconciliation. That’s the pivotal question we must ask: Are we more in love with the idea of following Jesus than actually following Jesus---including to and through some difficult areas?” – Dr. Brenda Salter-McNeil, Roadmap to Reconciliation 2.0
“The problem I see with most of our racial justice efforts is that we are largely passive and reactive rather than active and intentional. We wait for the next tragedy or outrage and only then do we act (for a little while). Racial Justice is a disposition, not a “to do” item.” – Dr. Jemar Tisby
Message from Marisa Gronholz, Director of Formation and Outreach at Bethany:
Dear Bethany Family,
I want to take a moment to draw your attention to a few upcoming formation opportunities as we continue to pursue racial justice and reconciliation and follow Jesus together. As the above quotes indicate, racial justice is not a “to-do” list or a program, but rather a whole-life, and life-long disposition – one that is intrinsic to our identity as followers of Jesus. Time and time again, as I am in conversations about race, I’m reminded that there are specific invitations for white people in racial justice work and specific invitations for BIPOC (black, Indigenous and people of color) as we seek God’s justice, healing and flourishing in our lives, our communities and our world.
For our white brothers and sisters: On May 7th, we will start a three-week class called The Way Forward with guest facilitator, Scott Hall. Here is a brief description of the class: To take Jesus seriously as white Americans, we need to look at the truth of our own racial identity and conditioning. The way forward involves pruning what is bad, rediscovering what is good, and finding our part to play in opposing racism. The Way Forward is a three-week class designed to help white Christians better understand themselves and become good news to a world haunted by racial injustice.
This class will be offered in 7 Howe at both the 9:00am and the 10:45am services, so it is accessible and available to the largest number of people who want to attend. Ideally, you would be able to attend all three consecutive classes: May 7th, May 14th, and May 21st. So Scott can better plan and prepare, we are asking people to register for the class here:
Register for "The Way Forward" Class Here.
Note: this class is on the same day as the Faith Formation Class taught by Eric Long which you can read more about below. The classes will not conflict and it is possible to do both.
For BIPOC: One of the organizations our staff and session has worked with, Be the Bridge, has created resources for BIPOC for healing, recovering from racialized trauma, and have created a CARE group for BIPOC only to share, connect, and heal with other BIPOC. You can find out more at www.bethebridge.com/bipoc/
In addition, Bethany supports the work of the Unity Collective—a non-profit counseling service dedicated to transforming individuals, relationships, and communities through embodied intersectional, integrative, and holistic care. Their therapists have specific training in the integration of the intersections of faith, race, and mental health. If you are looking for some additional support in your healing, please reach out to www.unitycollectivecounseling.org or reach out to me, firstname.lastname@example.org and I can connect you with a counselor or group.
Bethany Presbyterian Church has been committed to the work of reconciliation for many years. In July of 2019, our session discerned that God was calling us to go a step further, to explore and live into what it means to be actively “anti-racist”—naming our past, recognizing our privilege as a predominantly white church, repenting, calling out racism in all forms, and working to dismantle systems of white supremacy. (Read Bethany's Direction Statement here)
ROADMAP TO RECONCILIATION
Beginning in January, 2020, the Roadmap to Reconciliation working group began nine months of meeting:
• to engage the Roadmap to Reconciliation material,
• to evaluate our current programs and practices, and
• to develop recommendations for BPC staff and session regarding specific steps BPC can take to deepen the fulfillment of our commitment to becoming more of a reconciling, anti-racist community. The working group published their report in early October 2020: Roadmap to Reconciliation Full Report
BPC Historical Audit
In our March 20th Pastor's Forum - "Bethany and Racial Justice Update," we heard a report from our Historical Audit on Bethany and Systemic Racism. Marisa Gronholz, our Director of Formation and Outreach, shared about her work with the Roadmap to Reconciliation Steering Committee and we learned about our hopes for formulating the next steps in our racial justice and reconciliation journey at Bethany.
RESOURCES TO EXPLORE
Below is a list of curated resources - this is in NO way an exhaustive list - just a great "get started" guide. For a more in-depth list of resources and information, check out the Bethany Resources Page here.
Becoming Brave and Roadmap to Reconciliation 2.0 by Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
Eyes on the Prize - PBS Documentary Series
13th (ages 16 +)
Selma (ages 13+)
Just Mercy (also a must-read book!) (film is ages 13+)
**age recommendations provided by Common Sense Media
“To be a Christian Intellectual” by Dr. Willie Jennings
“How America Can Heal” by Bryan Stevenson
"The Case for Reparations" by Ta Nehesi Coates