The third day of Convention marked our final, and largest, World Café session. Members of ECCT from all over our state came together to have meaningful conversations around the big question of the day:
How can parishes educate themselves about the reality of systemic racism, white supremacy and anti-Black bias, and feel compelled to take action as followers of Jesus?
We must acknowledge that the sin of racism is a present reality and a massive wound in our country, our communities, and in our church. For some participants this evening, it is a daily lived experience. For some, confronting anti-blackness and white supremacy is work to which they have devoted themselves over many years. For others still, this is work that they have more recently begun learning about. And for some, attending tonight’s World Café was one of the early steps in having conversation about racism and white supremacy.
Therefore, these were difficult conversations. Some groups were able to dig in and had rich, vital, and life-giving experiences. A few groups struggled and the conversation was painful for some of us. And I am thankful that this evening, nearly 300 people spent 2.5 hours talking about the reality of racism in our world and how we can respond to that reality as the church.
Because these are vitally important conversations to have. In the first round, we were asked to consider why this big question mattered. The responses said it all: people are dying; it is past time; some of us have profited immensely; and we are still not seeing, to name a few.
Each group was asked to come up with one try-on that they would like to pursue (listed below). As we met back one final time and recapped our discussions, we came up with four broad categories of work our participants wanted to address moving forward. If you are interested in being involved in one or more of the following efforts, please reach out to the designated contact person so that you get the Zoom details to participate.
The value of stories is rich. It helps us bridge experience, forge relationships, and honor the history and lives of those who have come before us. This is a group interested in fostering the sharing of stories, from one-on-one conversations, to larger storytelling events, to creating an archive of stories from people around our church to preserve our history and learn from it.
To be determined by Doodle Poll. Contact Rev. Handi for details.
The Rev. Matt firstname.lastname@example.org
#2 Building Connections Between Communities
We are stronger together. We can accomplish more as a community. This is true for us individually and for us as worshiping communities. What if we explored pulpit swaps, or in the age of online worship, what if we tried out congregation swaps, or even shared worship services with each other and with other congregations in our community that are from other denominations? This group wants to pursue what is possible if we learn together, love together, and confront racism together.
November 14, 2020
@ 10:00 am
#3 Practical Action Steps
We need to have conversation and education, and we also need to take concrete steps to counter anti-blackness and white supremacy in our society. This group wants to explore the practical actions we can take individually and as church communities, such as supporting black-owned businesses, redistributing wealth in our church endowments, and pursuing anti-racist training.
December 9, 2020
#4 Owning Our Sin
Who better to talk about sin than the church? Where better to confront, own, and address our own sin in regards to racism, both individually and corporately, than in the context of our faith? This group seeks to lead us in examining our hearts, owning our sin, and seeking reconciliation with God and with one another.
To be determined by Doodle poll. Contact Rev. Montgomery for details.
The Rev. Ian Montgomery
The Full List of Try-ons
What will you be inspired to try yourself?
- Trying new way to facilitate conversations among diverse people.
- Leveraging regional gatherings to foster relationships and network parishes and people across racial difference. Encourage the clergy and lay leadership of ECCT to network more widely with political and religious leadership across their regions and across lines of racial(, religious, and denominational) difference—not limiting our networks and collaborations to our towns, which, because of the racially homogenous character of so many communities in Connecticut, impedes our participation in God’s mission.
- Doing something at the regional level: Regional partnerships with community groups / organizations beyond our parochial walls that bring all people into contact with each other.
- Direct political action using the church as a voice.
- Model vulnerability in sharing my own experiences, recognizing my privilege, my own implicit bias. Show that sharing is okay, important, and life-giving.
- Pool all the endowment funds from parishes, send to Meriden to be redistributed by need.
- Living as/with another church in a different environment and setting for 24 hours, dinner, and stay overnight (3 church Indaba).
- Go places where non-white voices are primary.
- Pulpit swap… could involve a large part of congregations (choirs)… delegations of congregations as part of swap… could do it on zoom!
- Have sustained events together with other churches.
- Speed Dating Style Conversations between individuals of different races with guided questions to explore life experiences, barriers, benefits, and just our deep human connections.
- Create a calendar of holy images that do not depict white people.
- Telling Stories of Racial Injustice and Healing, then collecting those videos and voice recordings in the ECCT archives to allow us to document our stories without having to retell and reteach.
- ECCT to reach out to other religious communities for food sharing (not religious services) and identify a mix of laity and clergy leaders to work together.
- Create a “speakers bureau” of people engaged in the work, to provide discussions in the parishes.
- Pulpit swaps – priest swap between churches and/or bring churches together. Tell our stories amongst the people in the church, share backgrounds.
- Hiring contractors, patronizing businesses owned by people of color – this would be by parishioners, parishes, and the Diocese – as a statement, example, and a step against systematic racism.
- Every parish offers on a given Saturday with Every priest offering to hear confessions for 2 hours on racism and anti black bias.
- Create space for congregants to speak to each other about their experiences/meditations to encourage people to share and have conversations, and less focus on preachers talking to their congregations from their POV.
- Visiting other parishes during this time of virtual worship.
- We must commit on a personal level, which seems to begin with sharing stories, praying together, asking God what God would want us to do together, discern how our diversity makes a strong Body of Christ.
- Worship online with churches that have really different contexts, especially now.
- Take risks as individuals to learn about and find ways to have the hard conversations that need to be had to promote the needed change.
- Get the word out to Parishes about the resources available on the ECCT Website.
- Using more prayers, hymns, etc. written by people of color and women and making our liturgy and music more mindful and respectful of racial and gender diversity.
- Franchise Heads Up, Hartford.
Thank you to the Rev. Matthew Emery for dropping in to help illustrate our work!