Key Learnings from our Racial Justice Journey

Be mindful of urgency. We’ve repeatedly learned the need to slow down, to pause, to question our tendency to want “to do” something in response to what we are learning. Our impulse to yield to urgency may unwittingly center ourselves and our own needs. Slowing down, settling in our bodies, and being open to what emerges allows us to be more present to each other and to those who have been most harmed by our legacies.

Relationships grow at the “speed of trust,” and persons of color have centuries of reasons not to trust predominantly white congregations, especially as it relates to building relationships toward racial justice. In our work to decenter white voices and center the experiences, ideas, insights, offerings, and voices of persons of color, we have learned to follow the lead of persons of color in how our relationships take shape and deepen. In other words, we have learned to pay attention to how we are ‘making space’ so others can ‘take space.’ Also, when working with other groups and individuals, we have learned to be mindful of who is ‘setting the table’ for conversations. Instead of inviting persons of color to our table, we need to be intentional about setting the table together or waiting for organic invitations to emerge.

Embrace the work of truth-telling and repair as a daily spiritual practice and as a part of the journey toward collective healing and liberation. At its best, this work grounds our lives in truth, invites us to take responsibility for our actions, and to lead our lives with integrity and joy.  It acknowledges and draws us back to the ways we are all made in God’s image: forgiven, loved, and free!

Mind the gap! We’ve received feedback that there is sometimes a wide chasm between what ways and how fast our congregation processes things – spiritually, culturally, operationally, and more.  Noticing and respecting sometimes widely different ways of doing things is part of the work. Entering into conversations concerning our differences with humility is essential to opening ourselves up to deeper insight into different perspectives on our processes.

Persistence! Persistence! Persistence! Stay with the work even when it seems to wander, even through mistakes and setbacks. Taking up this labor is for the long haul. As we work with broad movements, finding ways into sustainable practices toward racial justice in an imperfect world is essential to preventing burnout and discouragement.

Balancing emotions and spiritual/embodied work with intellectual discovery The impulse to always be learning more about the legacy of slavery and the history of violence against Indigenous peoples in our country is strong and for good reason. That educational work is necessary to go deeper. However, this calling to racial justice is not primarily an intellectual endeavor; It also begins in our hearts, our bodies and our relationships to self and others. In order to engage fully we must center the emotional and spiritual, embodied work of healing from the violence of white supremacy culture and racist systems that permeate our lives today.