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Anti-racism gathering raises ideas for action

At the 2021 Annual Meeting gathering session on “Our Call, Our Work: Antiracism to Reparations,” Lin Hagedorn of the PNC Dismantling Racism Task Force said that work began as pastors of color experiencing racism called attention to it, especially at the 2019 Annual Meeting.

Andy CastroLang converses with Lin Hagedorn and Christine Hanson.

Participants in the gathering sessions shared thoughts on why it is urgent to undo racism. Their responses included:

• “We are called to  recognize each other as beloved children of God but racism gets in the way.”

• We can’t undo racism until people to acknowledge they are racist.”

• “We need to understand white privilege to see how we share in racism.”

• “People are dying every day from police violence to environmental pollution because of white privilege.”

• “For many, their lives are not fully lived because of deaths, murders, incarceration and struggles for people of color in their neighborhoods and schools.”

• “The concerns of color permeate our society. Culture will not survive if we do not undo racism.”

• “The UCC legacy also includes Amistad, civil rights and global engagement. It’s about being in touch with people of different races and cultures around the globe and locally. It’s about seeing genocide in our communities, like the link of uranium mining on the Spokane Reservation to nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands.”

• “Dismantling racism is liberating for us.”

Participants then considered how the UCC might look at life and faith through an anti-racist lens:

• “We need to look at white Jesus images and ask why we hang onto them.”

• “We need to see how we continue to perpetuate positive images of ‘light’ and negative images of ‘dark’ in theology.”

• “Racism is not about being a good or bad person, but recognizing we have histories and learning in humility a new approach, realizing we did not understand what we learned before but now having an opportunity to shift.”

• “Should a predominantly white church be more diverse? Is that self-serving.”

• “Congregations might partner with other congregations to worship together and work on projects such as feeding and housing people.”

• “Sometimes a predominantly white church may be blind to Asian, Hispanic and Pacific Islander members as people of color, because they are not black.”

• “Some churches are good at reading books, but need to go out of our doors and be more present in the community to empower voices in communities doing things in line with our view of God’s message without trying to be the white savior.”

• “We need to join existing work.”

• “We need to see and value our own ethnicity as enriching.”

Lin and Christine Hanson of the Dismantling Racism Task Force encouraged people to read the PNC anti-racism document and move from study to concrete action.

“We need to work in our communities,” said Christine, “and to involve more people of color on our PNC committees.”

Lin said, “We need to go from head to heart and from hands to feet.  Our next step is to come together as a conference and commit to the work of challenging oppressive systems.”

Participants agreed on the need to share what congregations are doing, call for coming together as a conference to commit to anti-racism and challenge oppressive systems.

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Pacific NW UCC News © July 2021



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