January 12th is the first in a 2022 speaker series of conversations about racial justice work. Taylor Stewart, of the Oregon Remembrance Project, will be the speaker at this initial zoom gathering. Taylor and the Oregon Remembrance Project helps communities unearth stories or racial injustice and engage in the necessary truth-telling and repair of historical harm. Taylor will be joined by Reverend Ernestein Flemister of St. Luke’s in Grants Pass for a question and answer period.
This reflection was written by Michael Montgomery and Madeline Moore, co-conveners of the Engaging Racial Justice Working Group for the Diocese of Oregon
Have you ever let yourself dream about what our world, including our church, would be like without systematic racism? The Working Group on Racial Justice has been engaging in a process of asking as many Diocesan members as possible the following question:
If the Diocese of Oregon were to undergo a powerful transformation of racial reconciliation through the power of the Holy Spirit, what specific qualities and characteristics would we see?
This includes thinking about such things as programs, interaction, liturgy, stories, and foci.
We are finding that defining just what racial reconciliation is turns out to be both part of the process and part of the answer.
Some of the comments we have received include:
- Reworking our creeds and prayers, to be more inclusive.
- Doing the work of seeing Christ in one another. Discipleship where our politics, poverty, and well-being of others is at the center of our work.
- Offering kindness and perhaps feeling discomfort at the same time.
- Not putting the burden on the ones being marginalized.
- In a racially reconciled Diocese, whiteness will not be the norm.
- Our congregation is totally white, and we are exactly the population who need to embrace the Holy Spirit and move toward racial understanding and the elimination of racism
How about you? What do your dreams include? We would love for you to take some time to think about this question and email us back so that we can be more expansive in our work.
We welcome all thoughts and comments. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog was written by Dr. Melissa Bird from the Engaging Racial Justice Working Group.
This year our diocese has experienced such glorious opening and expansion through our commitment to addressing issues of racism and white supremacy. Those of us who have been part of the Engaging Racial Justice Working Group (formerly the Commission to End Racism) have participated in enriching, graceful, and substantive conversations about race and racism. We have changed our name because the term racial justice goes beyond being anti-racist, it calls for the creation of supports to achieve and sustain racial equity, and we believe that is the work we have been called by the diocese to do.
Recently our group was invited by Dr. Melissa Bird (Southern Paiute) to read The Four Vision Quests of Jesus by Steven Charleston. This book invites us to think of how we are all connected to God, Mother Earth, and our communities. In our conversation we discussed the transcendent experience of engaging in dismantling white supremacy and being organic in the way we are engaging in our work. White supremacy would have us believe that we are disconnected from each other and our collective experience. Steven Charleston reminds us that dissonance helps us develop a deep spiritual connection, change is meant to be uncomfortable. If we are willing to explore connection while releasing assumptions about this work, we allow ourselves to get us closer to our calling as God’s children.
We would like to invite you to reach for the spiritual center of the story and to look at anti-racist work as an opportuntiy for personal transfiguration. Bravery and courage for this work comes from our incredible liturgy. We are all one body, we are all interconnected, and we have access to the transformative and healing power of our gospel.
Our workgroup would like to invite you to open yourself to deep listening and transfiguration. You can begin with vulnerability and storytelling. There is time and more than enough grace to be deliberate and thoughtful in this work. You are being invited to a lifelong process of change, disruption, and dismantling of white supremacy and racism. We welcome you to join us in the temple, flip the tables, and bring people to Jesus’s calling to social justice. Some of the questions we invite you to ask yourselves are, “How do you want to engage in this work?” and “How do we weave this work through liturgy?”
When we pay attention to life, even the smallest details can bring us even closer to the great universal love of God. We hope that you will accept this invitation to engage in your own vision quest and reimagine your way going forward in doing anti-racist work.
In closing we would love to share these words from Steven Charleston, “In the traditional Native spiritual understanding, all of creation is endowed with the spirit of God. The very fact that God imagined something into being means that that object of creation has the mind of God within it. The nature of God, the essence of God, the love of God have touched all things, for nothing exists that is outside of God.” Amen.