Jan 10, 2019

“Racism is probably the greatest evil we face in our society.” That view is expressed by one eager applicant for the new Whites Confronting Racism training series the Eastern PA Conference will offer to 18 white (European American) clergy leaders this year.

The intensive, three-session learning and engagement opportunity is intended to enhance the conference’s aggressive anti-racism efforts that are centered on transformational education, dialogue and action. Those efforts are just part of its response to the UMC Northeastern Jurisdiction’s 2016-2020 Call to Action (CTA) anti-racism initiative.

Whites Confronting Racism (WCR) workshops are specifically for white people “who want to understand the dynamics of racism within our society and within themselves,” reads the program’s description. “In a supportive, compassionate, nonjudgmental environment, participants will learn skills in recognizing racism and white privilege and its effects, skills to effectively intervene, and personal reflection tools to increase self-awareness about how learned racial programming operates.”

Southwest District members discuss race, white privilege and racism at a 2015 district dialogue and learning event hosted by Lititz UMC.

The workshops will happen in three sessions, each lasting three days—from Tuesday to Thursday—over the course of three seasons, in March, July and September. The dates are:

  • Session 1 – March 12, 13, 14
  • Session 2 – July 9, 10, 11
  • Session 3 – September 24, 25, 26

Each session will begin at 10 AM and end at 4:30 PM. The meeting site will be at a convenient, central location within the bounds of the conference. Housing can be arranged at a modest rate for commuting participants, who may split the lodging cost with the program.

Applications are being accepted now; and completed applications are due by Tuesday, Jan. 15. All applicants will be informed of the Discernment Team’s decision by Feb. 12. The goal is to enroll 18 clergy in the training.

The team is looking for highly committed, willing and available clergy from all categories of pastoral leadership. “Participants must commit to the ongoing work of seeking racial justice in all aspects of their lives and to influencing others to do the same,” the program description states. Clergy expecting to serve another 20 or more years in ministry are especially urged to apply.

The registration fee for each participant is $650, participants must make a personal financial commitment. The recommended amount for that personal contribution is $100. The rest may be raised from other sources, including local church continuing education funds, Board of Ordained Ministry continuing education funds, etc.  

Two highly skilled trainers will facilitate the sessions. Lorraine Marino is co-creator of the Whites Confronting Racism (WCR) training concept and curriculum. Sarah Halley, an experiential educator in team building, diversity and leadership development, co-facilitates WCR workshops for a Philadelphia organization dedicated to global social change. Both are seasoned trainers who specialize in “resisting racism work” and have assisted faith communities committed to that work.

“I believe there is an urgency for us to organize and share opportunities to confront racism in our society and in the church,” said the Rev. Robin Hynicka, pastor of Arch Street UMC Philadelphia, who is helping to coordinate the program. Download, use and share the online program description (available on our website, under the Resources tab) and the one-page on-line application.