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Task Force offers suggestions on inviting BBIAPI speakers

The PNC-UCC Dismantling Racism Task Force has prepared a document on “Welcoming Our Black Brown Indigenous Asian and Pacific Islanders (BBIAPI) pastors and guest speakers to our predominantly white churches.”

The task force members are Amara Oden, Andrew Conley-Holcomb, Christine Hanson,  Elizabeth Maupin, Kelle Brown, Lenore Marentette, Lin Hagedorn, Robert Brown and Steve Clagett.

The document helps white churches examine if their place may be a “dangerous space” for inviting people and be aware that being welcoming involves going beyond having open hearts and good intentions.

Congregations are invited to look at whether they historically have been excluding or hostile, and be aware of how to become partners in anti-racism work.

BBIAPI pastors have made it known that until churches are committed to work towards worship that is anti-racist they may not be welcoming.

“This work is never-ending, it is a life-long journey, and we will make mistakes along the way,” the task force recognizes. 

They offer some questions for to people reflect on whether their congregation is BBIAPI welcoming. These questions invite reflection, to begin or continue imagining an anti-racist world and a congregations role in creating that world.

The questions include:

• What inspired the church to request a BBIAPI pastor or guest?

• What does the church hope to gain from a cross-cultural leader?

• Has the congregation committed to anti-racism, both as individuals and as a congregation? How?

• Have they done anti-racism training to critically reflect on their cultural privilege as a dominant culture church?

• What steps can they take to ensure the physical, emotional, and spiritual safety and well-being of the speaker before, during and after the visit?

• Has the church completed a Racial Audit to learn how to change practices and behavior? 

• Have they developed relationships inside and outside the church to respond to anti-Blackness realities and anti-racism work?

• Is the church financially compensating the pastor fairly for the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual work the interaction will require?

The Dismantling Racism Task Force said this is “transformative work that requires us to dig deep and examine our personal and cultural history, the collective trauma we have done and continue to do, and the systems of oppression we knowingly and unknowingly support, sponsor and uphold. 

“We have much work to do. If we commit to the individual and collective transformation, we will make progress, but this work will never be done. We, children of God, are the stewards of what is now and what will become,” they said. 

The task force added that congregations do not have to walk the journey alone.

“If our journey is grounded in love, if the goal is accountability in word and deed, if we seek a world that affirms interconnection and strives to find collective liberation, we will be transformed by our commitment to this work,” they said.  “This is our sacred duty, our sacred work. We are here to offer companionship for this journey.”

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Copyright © Fall 2022 Pacific Northwest United Church News


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