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Becoming an Anti-Racist Church



At First Church, we have spent a lot of time talking about remembrance, repentance, and reparations, and about how all of these are a part of our work of Racial Justice. As we seek to sustain and grow this work, we need an ever deeper reliance on God and on the hoped-filled resources of faith tradition. We are pleased to announce that Carlyle Stewart, our Community Minister for Racial Justice, will be joining us this fall to lead a series of weekly sessions on Wednedsay evenings at 5:30 on the theme of A Call to Return: Spiritual Reflections on Racial Justice.  Carlyle will also be leading three after church town hall meetings. For more information please see the article in the current issue of EVENT. For the Zoom info, please see below listings. And please be sure check out our new Racial Justice Ministries playlist on our YouTube Channel every week for new recordings of the Wednesday evening meetings, as well as Sunday town hall meetings. 

Prayer, Reflection, and Action for 2020

The following statement expresses First Church’s intentions and commitments for the remainder 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 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:

Here are several ideas to deepen our self-awareness, learning and healing:
  • Join one of our online Faith & Life groups or book groups related to racial justice, or lead your own.
  • 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.
  • Follow Layla Saad’s 28-day workbook with daily exercises and reflections for becoming an anti-racist.
  • Join our monthly 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.
Participate in making First Church an inclusive, anti-racist congregation:
  • Join us weekly on Wednesday evenings at 5:30 for The Call to Return: Spiritual Reflections on Racial Justice with Carlyle Stewart

Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81149629201?pwd=dzFjcU5HOHVtZXNXeFh5SEhLVU9CUT09
Meeting ID: 811 4962 9201
Password: Return 

  • 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. 
  • Learn about and aim to do you part in dismantling these Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture from Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups, by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun..
  • Join a monthly after-church Zoom coffee hour check-in to share progress with your commitments and ideas for our shared work


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. 
  • Vote! And support voter turnout efforts!
  • Join the Poor People’s Campaign and pressing for the campaign’s demands for racial and social justice.

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.




 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.


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