Once again, as we prepare our monthly newsletter we can scarcely concentrate because of the violence, hatred and fear that surround us.  We offer you a prayer, below, from our Working Board Member, Leonardo Espinosa.  

And we offer you some "best practices," testimonies, if you will--stories of places across our state where congregations are taking action to attend to racial justice in their communities.  For communities of color, talking about race is not a special project, but an everyday reality.  How can congregations, whatever their race, become wise, proactive, transformed and transformative forces in their communities? Join us in prayer, and be inspired by the ideas below.

With hope,
Rev. Meagan

Dios eterno,
cuando estuvimos perdidos, nos enseñaste la luz.
Venimos hoy a ti
amenazados por las tinieblas del mal;
amenazados por fracturas, injusticias, y violencia.
Dios misericordioso,
derrama tu Espíritu en nosotros, el lazo de amor,
y danos el poder y el valor para dominar el mal
y luchar por la unidad y el entendimiento,
escudriñando en lo desconocido —en “el otro”—
y poder otorgar la compasión y solidaridad
necesaria en la ansiedad y el sufrimiento.
Dios fiel,
derrama tu gracia en nosotros;
derrama el don de la esperanza incesante,
y viendo las cosas por venir
seamos un instrumento de reconciliación.
/No somos más Judíos o Griegos,
esclavos o libres, hombres o mujeres,
blancos, morenos o negros.
Somos Uno en Cristo Jesús./
Dios eterno, lazo de amor,
somos muchos,
Recíbenos así,
y mándanos como Uno.


Eternal God,
once we were lost, and you showed us the light.
We now come to you 
as darkness is at work;
as we are threatened by fracture,
injustice, and violence.
Merciful God,
pour your Spirit unto us, the Bind of Love,
and grant us the power and courage to subdue evil
and fight for unity and understanding,
digging deep into the unknown —into the other—
to bestow the compassion and solidarity
needed amidst distress and suffering.
Steadfast God,
pour your Grace unto us;
grant us the gift of unwavering hope,
and seeing the things to come,
may we become an instrument of reconciliation.
/We are no longer Jew or Greek,
slave or free, male or female,
white, brown or black;
We are One in Christ Jesus./
Eternal God, binding love,
we are many, 
we are broken.
Receive us as we are
And send us off as One.

What are congregations in Massachusetts doing to facilitate honest conversations and address racism?

Learning about privilege transforms a community

Crawford Memorial United Methodist Church read the book “Facing Feelings in Faith Communities,” which grew out of Bill Kondrath's anti-racism work. They invited everyone to read “Waking Up White” and held discussions on the book at the parsonage. The book’s author, Debby Irving, visited the church and gave an introduction to white privilege. This process opened awareness, conviction of interdependence and interconnection and a compassionate response at all levels of our lives among members of the congregation.

Sacred Conversations leave participants hungry for more

United Church of Christ, Burlington hosted a Sacred Conversation on Race (a national United Church of Christ curriculum found here: http://www.ucc.org/sacred-conversation ) which sparked interest to engage a 6-week book study on "Between the World and Me."

 Awareness leads to partnerships
In January, Wellesley Village Church read together the book "Waking Up White,” met in small groups and then had the author come speak. They also read "Between the World and Me" together, and are planning next steps, building on their long-standing relationship with Charles Street AME Church in Boston. 
St. Elizabeth's Church in Sudbury read "Stand your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God" by Kelly Brown Douglas. They are forming a new intentionally cross-racial partner church relationship with St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Dorchester.

Some, more unexpected than others!

Roxbury Presbyterian Church saw a need in their neighborhood, and launched the Cory Johnson Trauma Education Project through their Social Impact Center,  to address the epidemic of PTSD in urban neighborhoods. The Korean Church of Boston, located in Brookline, heard about this program and, moved by the important work of their sister congregation, put together a world class evening of music to raise funds in support of the Center.  This improbable partnership highlights what we can do together by sharing resources and passion in an effort to promote healing and reconciliation.

Mainly-white congregations find ways to confront their own privilege and racism

Congregants at First Parish in Sherborn, UU, wore black lives matter buttons for a week or month and reflected together on the kinds of conversations they had, and the times they felt uncomfortable.   
First United Methodist Church of Melrose offers the "White People Challenging Racism" class to the community. They have offered the WPCR class two times at their church, and have recruited new facilitators who have now offered it twice more in other Melrose congregations. A fifth class will be offered beginning August 2 at a community location. Melrose now has over 40 alums of this class, many of whom convene monthly for ongoing support and action planning. 

Connecting with Black Christian Lived Experiences

As many churches, clergy, and lay persons are trying to discover new ways to learn more about their black Christian lived experiences, some of my favorite books that may be worthwhile to use for a book club or personal reading are:
God of the Oppressed, and The Cross & the Lynching Tree, James H. Cone
Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenges of Womanist God-Talk, Delores Williams
Disruptive Christian Ethics: When Racism and Women’s Lives Matter, Traci C. West
Womanist Ethics & the Cultural Production of Evil, Emilie Townes
-Rev Daryl

Continue to watch our facebook page for more stories, and let us know what your congregation is doing to make space for honest conversations and action to address racism.


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