We have started the journey to truly become an anti-racist church.
There’s no denying that systemic racism is deeply rooted in our country. It’s a reality that, as those committed to following Christ, we simply cannot ignore. And are called to change.
In 2016, we committed ourselves as a congregation to begin addressing the racism in ourselves, our city and our country. However, as a predominantly white church on Chicago’s north shore we honestly weren’t completely sure how best to do that and we began prayerfully seeking God’s leadership, doing our homework, and having soul-searching conversations within our leadership team.
We came to believe that it required that we start with the inner work needed to confront our own embedded racism. As writers like Ibram X. Kendi and others tell us, no one can truly say, “I am not a racist.” But we can all choose to be an anti-racist. We can make choices on a daily basis to confront the racism we see within ourselves, our organizations and systems.
That is one of the reasons why our church entered into a Spirit-led partnership with Bethel Baptist Church of Chicago Heights, a partnership that has begun opening our eyes and hearts, and has made racism personal for us in ways it hadn’t been before. Read more about that here.
It’s also why we’ve begun to engage with the issue of racism in worship in various ways.
It’s why we took a deeper dive during Lent 2021, by having small group discussions exploring race and racism through the lens of Isabel Wilkerson’s book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent.
It’s why on Juneteenth, 2021 we sponsored an event to raise awareness of the history of race in our local neighborhoods, hosted by HEROS (Healing Everyday Racism in our Schools), and participated in an historic walk against racism that culminated on the Winnetka Village Green.
Our work is just beginning. To help our church, as we continue the inner reflective work we need to do and identify outward action and advocacy, we have formed an Anti-Racism Advocacy Leadership Team, headed by LeAnn Pope who has been doing a lot of work on anti-racism over the past few years, including writing a powerful masters’ thesis, “From Colorblind to Clearer Vision,” that she recently shared with our Spiritual Enrichment group. To learn more about how you can become more involved, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To do more reading and learning on your own, you may want to explore some of the resources on this list.