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A Kingdom Response to Racism

Threads Family,

Once again, the evil of racism is running rampant and we are all recognizing that there needs to be a response, particularly by the white church. It was important to listen on Sunday to the voices of some of our family who are forced to live with these realities in a way that the majority of the Threads family does not. We need to continue to hear and listen to those voices – inside and outside of Threads. There has also been interest and confusion over what we can do in the face of an overwhelming evil like this.

There are a couple things that we can do and will be doing at this time:

1. We pray. That the Father of us all will bring His Kingdom on earth – a Kingdom that recognizes the full dignity and worth of all who are made in God’s image and a Kingdom that uniquely favors the oppressed and downtrodden and cares for the vulnerable and disempowered. Please pray for the peace and justice of the Kingdom to meet in our day, in our community and in our country.

One concrete way to pray is to join with the broader church in Kalamazoo for their prayer wall event tonight at 6pm in various locations in our community (arrive by 5:30, prepared to stand and pray silently for an hour). If you do not feel comfortable in a crowd at this time, consider marking that time at home with extended prayer and perhaps silence in your own household. This is, of course, just one form of what should be an ongoing, consistent prayer.

2. We want to press further into this issue with those who are interested and able by creating a space for awkward and hopefully grace-filled conversations as we seek to address our own hearts and the deep-seated issues of privilege and racism that we don’t even realize are there. This is personal and hard work. It is best done in a CPR-like environment where we can be honest and make mistakes and say the wrong things and learn together.

We are ordering a number of copies of a particular resource, Me and White Supremacy, by Layla F. Saad. There are many great books, often with discussion guides, but this was originally designed as a 28-day Instagram challenge and it involves a daily work of reading and reflecting through questions. We think it will foster reflection and discussion that can have a transforming impact on our hearts, the first place we need to confront in order to be better equipped and able to participate in the long-term work of advocating for justice in our communities, country and world. The resource is available for Kindle on Amazon, but it’s difficult to get a hard copy. We are working with ‘this is a bookstore’ to place a large order, but it could be up to two weeks before they are available. As people express interest and we place them in groups, we will find out who needs a hard copy and who is planning to get a digital copy.

We aren’t going to do this through MCs – those groups have other purposes and might be too large and may have people who are not interested, ready or able to do this at this time. We hope to place people in smaller groups that can meet online (or perhaps arrange for in-person outdoor, distanced gatherings, if that is wise – but the majority will meet online). We’ll try to get people from different MCs (and no MC) in each group and have a leader who can facilitate the discussion.

We are hoping to organize groups and leaders in the next week or so and will have an initial zoom meeting for everyone on Sunday, June 14th at 7pm (link will be provided to all interested), with a goal of starting the 28-day resource the week of the 21st.

If you are interested, please let us know (email or on the FB posts about this). Then we’ll reach out about the book and get groups and leaders set up. If you’ve already expressed interest, you don’t need to again, unless you don’t hear from us about resources. These are first steps. The first will be ongoing and needs to be a consistent focus. We would rather be accused of speaking too often, rather than too infrequently, on a topic so central to the gospel and the heart of God. In addition to this particular resource, there are many good books out there for those who like to read and learn in this way (but we know this is not everyone and does not always lead to deeper transformation on its own). There are books that confront us with the reality of the black experience in America and others that work through the white experience of privilege and the movement towards being anti-racist. Perhaps we will have further opportunities after this initial round, and others are encouraged to find and read these resources on their own, as well.

At this time, it is important for us to listen and learn. We also cannot remain silent. However, many of us struggle to know what to say. We also need to consider where and how to speak – around our family tables and with friends and extended family, when confronted with injustices and wrong thinking, on social media (without falling into the trap of feeding antagonisms and fostering fruitless anger and argument). Thus the need to listen and learn. How can we be those who speak truth and promote justice boldly AND lovingly, even to those who disagree with us?

A final word (for now) – please do not feel pressured to come to the prayer rally or to join a group – do not act out of shame or guilt or seek to motivate others out of shame or guilt. Some may not be ready to take these steps and it does not mean that they are bad people or racist. For some, dealing with other stresses during this season have left them without the reserve necessary to tackle another large issue in their hearts or to enter into a time of confrontation that is extremely stressful for some. Please respect and make space for people to respond as they are able in this season.

For the sake of the Kingdom,

Kevin

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