This is the fourth in a series of posts about SURJ (Showing up for Racial Justice) in the church. Often the mainline churches can generate a lot of activity about racial justice in the form of established commissions, committees, agencies, and boards. What is needed alongside committees… is action.
Principle 4: It is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than it is to think your way into a new way of acting.
The church has done much thinking about racial justice but not much action that is ‘change’ on the ground. We need actions to go along with the many statements. In 1994 the Episcopal House of Bishops provided an excellent Pastoral Statement on the Sin of Racism. They summed up things pretty well in that letter. It has been 22 years since that letter was written. Now is kairos time to provide more incarnation of what this letter espouses.
Preparation: Pray for open eyes, ears, minds, hearts, souls to see what God is doing in your own backyard towards racial justice and realize that the work of the church is to get behind and intentionally join in with what God is doing.
It is very hard to move from activity to action when hand wringing in the primary modus operandi. Hand-wringing, no matter how earnest it may, be does not help people of color. Statements of the problem, as in the well written 1994 pastoral letter have outlined the state of the problem. To get at this, we need to get at it, and in our own contexts, without waiting for the next statement, letter, course or study process to say what has already been said over and over again, as Albert Einstein is believed to have said, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
Action: In your own church institution, and more importantly in your own locality and judicatory, There are African-Americans and other people of color. In your own locality, there is a history of racism in race relations. If the goal is to ‘know what to do,’ the first action needed is to ask those affected what to do. The second action is to take a stab at doing it. One judicatory is actually doing just that.