Our Racial Justice Workgroup began with a small group of committed members attending a local conference on Race and Privilege in 2016. From there we continued to discuss how we understand race, privilege, and justice, and began to plan further educational opportunities for ourselves and for our whole congregation.
In 2018, the Racial Justice Workgroup invited the congregation to a monthly summer conversation series. Throughout the summer, we explored three questions:
1. What is the history of race and racial justice?
2. How does that history affect us now?
3. How can we apply what we learn to love our neighbors better?
June 10: Racial Injustice in History
Reading: “A Revealing Timeline of Race Relations In the U.S.” Oprah.com, www.oprah.com/inspiration/timeline-of-race-relations-in-america.
Article: “A History: The Construction of Race and Racism” Dismantling Racism Project Western States Center from www.westernstatescenter.org.
July 15: Privilege and Institutional Racism
What did redlining do to Northeast Minneapolis? (interactive map)
August 19: Implicit Bias
PBS Video: Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Racism
September 23: What Now?
PBS video on combating implicit bias: Make Friends, Tackle Bias
Stanley Nelson’s video for Starbucks’ diversity training:
Sean Connors, “To The Non-Racist White People, Please Just Be The First”
At the conclusion of our summer, we presented our statement on Racial Justice to the council, which accepted it as our objectives for the coming years:
Grace Lutheran Racial Justice Workgroup Objectives for 2018 – 2020
Jesus commanded his followers to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and all your strength,” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:29-31). We confess along with the Scriptures that all humanity was made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and that there are to be no divisions in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). As a congregation in Northeast Minneapolis we want to celebrate the beautiful diversity present in our neighborhood.
Martin Luther taught us that we are to come to the defense of our neighbors, to speak well of them, and to interpret everything they do in the best possible light (Luther’s Small Catechism, Ten Commandments). We remember Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor and anti-Nazi martyr, who witnessed the atrocities his government legally perpetuated against the Jews and other “undesirable” citizens, and would not stand idly by. We remember the words of Martin Luther King Junior in his Letter from Birmingham Jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In the face of the struggles of ethnic minorities and people of color, both in our neighborhood and across our nation, we cannot be silent. We believe that racial injustice and prejudice are sins. These divisions are not from God but from humanity, and they deny the truth of our creation in God’s image.
Therefore we as a congregation proclaim our desire to be a place where people can build relationships with each other, both in our ministries and our building. We seek to educate ourselves through self-examination and increased awareness of structural racism. We commit ourselves to neighborhood connections and compassionate listening. We strive to have authentic and meaningful relationships with our neighbors, to welcome everyone just as they are and show them genuine hospitality, and to intentionally reach out to people from cultures or contexts different from our own. By these actions and others we seek to advocate for justice and equality.