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Becoming an Anti-Racist Church

BECOMING AN ANTI-RACIST CHURCH

Prayer, Reflection, and Action
Summer 2020

The following statement expresses First Church’s intentions and commitments for the summer of 2020. We join with a global outcry against recent and past events of violence against black and brown persons. This statement builds on several years of concerted efforts to raise our self-awareness, build relationships, and act towards racial justice and healing. We approach this work with hearts open to listening, learning, and change.

 
First Church affirms that Black Lives Matter and Indigenous Lives Matter. We celebrate the gifts, presence, and leadership of persons of color within First Church and beyond. We recognize that the problem of racism is a white person’s problem and that this is white people’s work. Becoming an anti-racist church means that we are determined not merely to raise our consciousness of racism, but to actively call out and intentionally work for change. We do this work because we know our individual and collective spiritual health, transformation, and liberation depend on it. We do this work relying on God’s help and knowing that we cannot do it alone.

In the coming weeks and months, the Staff, Executive Council, and Deacons of First Church
invite you to join us in taking on a spiritual practice aimed at disrupting our complicity with white supremacy, ending our silence about police brutality and racial inequality, and acting toward real change. We invite you to commit serious energy and sacrificial love to at least two of the following levels of work:

SOUL LEVEL
Here are several ideas to deepen our self-awareness, learning and healing:

    ֎ Join summer online Faith & Life groups or book groups related to racial justice, or lead
         your own. Ideas in the works:
  • Reading, Listening, or Watching Groups - Gather friends for a close read of Robin D’Angelo’s White Fragility or Ibram X. Kendi’s How To Be An Anti-Racist.
  • Commit to listening to or reading at least one black or indigenous voice each day. Here are some ideas. Check our website throughout the summer for updates.
  • Join a “Me and White Supremacy” Group. Follow Layla Saad’s 28-day workbookwith daily exercises and reflections for becoming an anti-racist.
  • Individual Reparations Accountability Group – Support for those participating in a range of local and individual reparations pledges and efforts.
    ֎ Develop a practice of saying and praying their names, George Floyd. Breonna Taylor.
         Ahmaud Arbery. The list goes on, and on. And on. Learn the stories of their lives,not
        just their deaths. Say their names.
 
CONGREGATIONAL LEVEL
Participate in making First Church an inclusive, anti-racist congregation:

    ֎ Familiarize yourself with lessons learned by other churches, as described in the book
          Mistakes and Miracles: Congregations on the Road to Multiculturalism by Nancy
          Palmer Jones and Karin Lin. Register to attend an upcoming Zoom discussion of
          chapter 3 on Thursday, June 18, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. or Wednesday, July 15, from
          7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Email Peggy Stevens (peggy@kids4peace.org) to receive the Zoom
          invitation.

     ֎ Join a monthly after-church Zoom coffee hour check-in to share progress with your
          commitments and ideas for our shared work.

COMMUNITY LEVEL
Watch the church bulletin and Facebook page for more details on these and future options.

     ֎ Join a First Church group to support police reform efforts and accountability in the town
          or city where you live.

     ֎ Support, invest in, and follow the lead of Black, Indigenous, and Person of Color-led
          businessesorganizations, or protests, as you are able.

     ֎ Participate in the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization actions addressing systemic
          racism, both city and statewide. 

NATIONAL LEVEL

     ֎ Join the Poor People’s Campaign, starting with a National Call for Moral Revival on
          June 20, 2020. Register at https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/june2020/. Continue
          in these efforts and pressing for the campaign’s demands throughout the summer and
          beyond.

As Rev Dr. Otis Moss III of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago has said, our country is facing not one, but two pandemics: Covid-19 and “confederate Covid 1619,” referring to the toxic strain of racist and white supremacist ideology that has been coursing through our church, city and nation’s history since its founding on stolen land. First Church tested positive for the latter in the 1630’s when our forebears held captive enslaved persons of African and Indigenous descent. We have yet to develop a vaccine, and its effects are still evident to this day. We are all carriers, whether we know it or not. We all need constant vigilance, lest we share it unwittingly. We are all in need of healing. The collective treatment includes a daily regimen of prayer, action and reflection. The Spirit is upon us now, calling us each to respond.

 

 

“A REQUIEM FOR AHMAUD ARBERY” 

 Sunday, June 21, 11:00 a.m., via live-stream worship

On May 17, Rev. Otis Moss III, of the 8,500-member Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, offered a powerful 25-minute multimedia sermon about the recent death of Ahmaud Arbery and about our nation’s appalling history of violence against black and brown bodies. It is a profound lamentation and testimony that speaks the truth in love to the entrenched power of white supremacy. Ahmuad Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. These names and lives join so many others who have died in acts of racial terror on lynching trees, on streets, in parks. In lieu of a traditional sermon on June 21, we will share a recording of Rev. Moss’s reflections, bearing witness together to the daily reality of violence and terror against people of color in America. A Zoom discussion will be held after the service.

 
 

 

MISTAKES AND MIRACLES CONVERSATIONS June 18, 3:00 p.m. or July 15, 7:00 p.m. What would it be like for First Church to be radically inclusive and anti-racist? To be a community where a senior-level minister of color could grow and thrive? These are visions we have set for ourselves. The Beloved Community group invites everyone to join us in the journey towards making these visions the reality of our church. We invite you to read Chapter 3 of the book, Mis- takes and Miracles: Congregations on the Road to Multiculturalism by Nancy Palmer Jones and Karin Lin. Let’s find out about some of the predictable challenges other churches have faced on the journey and learn how to avoid them. The first of two opportunities to discuss the

chapter will happen this Thursday at 3:00 p.m., and the second opportunity will happen in one month, on Wednesday, July 15. Please let Peggy Stevens know if you’d like to join us for one of these discussions so she can send you the link: peggy@kids4peaceboston.org

Mistakes and Miracles is available as an E-book on line for $9.99 from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=mistakes+and+miracles&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_...

or as a Paperback for $22.00 from Amazon or Unitarian Universalist bookstore:

https://www.uuabookstore.org/Mistakes-and-Miracles-P18521.aspx?utm_medium=uua.org&utm_source=body&utm_campaign=uuaorgads&utm_content=/products/mistakes-and-mir- acles

If you’d like to read the chapter without buying the book, please contact Peggy Stevens and we’ll find a way to send you the chapter or loan you a copy of the book: peggy@kids4peaceboston.org.

 

Looking for ways to support our community during this unprecedented time of need? The Missions and Social Justice Committee has compiled and vetted a short list of organizations looking for assistance to aid in their work in the COVID-19 response...

In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Shelter has expanded into Sage Hall to allow for greater social distancing, and is now open to guests around the clock, thanks to additional funding from the Commonwealth. They would very much welcome...