Dismantling Racism may start with learning a new form of “the 3Rs”: Relationships, Recognition and Revelation. Relating openly and lovingly to others who are different—especially cross-racially or cross-culturally—can lead to honest recognition of what one doesn’t know and then to revelation of subtle but significant truths. All of that can be liberating. Or to echo Jesus’ words, “The truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
The Eastern PA Conference is fully invested, from various vantage points, in the goal to dismantle racism and liberate us from that sin. How? By doing candid assessments, training and equipping leaders, and making substantive, systemic changes that can help achieve our denomination’s mission: “Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Recent examples of honest assessments include the Commission on Religion and Race’s Economic Justice Council that intensively researched inequities in the advancement and compensation of clergy of color, and in the burdens and demands experienced by churches of color, especially in regard to paying financial apportionments.
While CORR actively examines and addresses many racial justice concerns in our church and society, the historic resolution being presented to the 2022 Annual Conference in May, seeking to reconcile inequities in affirmative ways, may be its most dynamic yet. Read the 2022-05-Resolution-Relating-to-Economic-Equity in the Resolutions section of our 2022 Annual Conference web page.
No doubt, that study relied heavily on the relationships forged among CORR members during their monthly meetings and while collaborating on various projects between meetings. Those relationships are leading to mutual recognition of realities in our conference and among its churches, and also a desire to reveal to others what is being learned and how to make just improvements.
The primary role of forging relationships to foster recognition, revelation and real change can also be learned by lay and clergy church teams who attend various EPA training events—such as the recent Crossing Cultures: Understanding & Applying Intercultural Competencies in Cross-Racial / Cross-Cultural Ministry, held March 11-12 online via Zoom. The long title reflects the long journey required to achieve its main goal: Intercultural Competency, which evolves in stages and may be understood as “the ability to function effectively across cultures, to think and act appropriately, and to communicate and work with people from different cultural backgrounds.” (What is intercultural competence? – Monash University)
The upcoming annual Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural Workshop for new and returning CR/CC Clergy and Staff/Parish Relations Committee Teams, June 4 (9:30 AM to 12:30 PM, via Zoom), is also a training most advantageous to church teams and not just individuals. And the same goes for the upcoming “Congregational Racial Audit: Are You Ready?” training May 7, 9 AM to 12 PM, sponsored and planned by EPA’s Healing the Wounds of Racism Core Team. That team, which collaborates with CORR, offers Dismantling Racism Levels I and II workshops yearly—Level I for basic racial awareness and competency training, and Level II for more topical, experiential learning.
‘Congregational Racial Audit: Are You Ready?‘
The congregational racial audit training will help congregations engage in self-examination, as they “conduct courageous conversations on race.” Such conversations must involve relationship-building to help leaders recognize and reveal to their congregations where they are on the journey toward racial awareness, justice and reconciliation, as they pursue the ideal of becoming “the Beloved Community.”
This workshop will help attendees discern if their congregation is ready to undertake a racial audit. It will explore ways of doing an audit and the challenges of following it up with action, based on one congregation’s experience of planning, conducting, and “making meaning of a congregational racial reflective audit.” Learn more about this event on EPA’s website.
All of these efforts and more will be reflected in CORR’s annual Call to Action Report, to be presented to the Annual Conference session in May and to the Northeastern Jurisdiction Vision Table, which receives reports from each conference in the NEJ. All bishops and conferences were mandated to undertake and report on Call to Action racial justice initiatives at the last NEJ Conference in 2016.
CORR’s report to Annual Conference will also highlight a creative witness expression of the Dismantling Racism quest in the form of a song composed by CORR members and friends. It is titled “Now Is the Time,” echoing the conference theme ”Now,” taken from Romans 13:11. Conference members will hear the song and possibly an accompanying spoken word composition. Both will be shared also on the conference website.
Search the EPA website for past articles about our Call to Action reports and Dismantling Racism initiatives. And look for more coverage of recent and upcoming training events and other activities.