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Dismantling Racism efforts raised issues, discomforts

The Dismantling Racism Task Force reported on their work to help the PNC become more anti-racist conference by supporting hearing from Black and Brown pastors.

Steve Clagett, Lenore Marentette and Chris Hanson of the Dismantlng Racism Task Force report at Annual Meeting.

Lenore Marentette of All Pilgrims Christian Churhc in Seattle said that after emotional chaos at the last Annual Meeting there was need for additional perspective.

At the last two annual meetings, conference leaders received the holy gifts of vulnerability, challenge and change through the voices of Black and Brown clergy,” she said.

“We experienced breaking open long standing concerns that deeply challenged delegates. The standing business was set aside so these experiences could be heard,” Lenore said.

“In the last two annual meetings, the Spirit shook us with the voices of those excluded and the ways the conference has fallen short. Those who continue to show up tell us it is easier to leave and take their pain with them,” she added, “but BIPOC pastors and members still have faith in us as a conference.”

The Dismantling Racism Task Force helped the conference realize the liberating, challenging work that is needed to dismantle racism, setting aside agendas to hear voices and transforming the conference to call the PNC to a new way of being.

Lenore pointed out that if people of color are frustrated, they may disengage.

The Dismantling Racism Task Force urged the delegates and participants as a collective body to engage in in prayerful discernment about how the “disrupters” influenced the annual meetings in a positive way.

“Our job is to recognize the healing power of anger. We seek to flourish in the PNC with respect and love,” task force members said.

“I embrace ideas of doing work in covenant as white Christians,” said member Steve Clagett also of All Pilgrims. “Our part of the covenant is to love deeply and stay in conversation and not walk away. We need healing as a body experiencing emotional trauma.

“I tell white Christians to lean into the anger people of color trusted us with and to accept it as a blessing,” he said.  “We need to be able to say, ‘I messed up,’ and keep talking to each other, not just at Annual Meetings.” 

In its report, the task force says it sees need to “continue the lifelong work of dismantling racism within ourselves, our team, our churches, and the broader community,” to be intentional about “how we show up both at our meetings and out in the world,” endeavoring to call out racist words, actions, and systems.

They call for whites to learn the truth about our white supremacist, colonial history and share this truth with others, working to build a community “where we can learn from each other and share the mistakes and progress being made.”

They invite efforts to build relationships of accountability, encouraging the conference to show up where Black, Brown, Asian and Indigenous pastors and laypeople lead the conference.

They seek to provide a safe place for people to openly discuss their anti-racist journey, to promote the Conference Anti-Racist fund and to promote the Sacred Conversations to End Racism workshop and Undoing Institutional Racism training.

Task Force members are chair Christine Hanson, Amara Oden, Andrew Conley-Holcom, Elizabeth Maupin, Gilbert and Mary Escandon, Kelle Brown, Lenore Marentette, Lin Hagedorn, Marilyn Burwell, Robert Brown and Steve Clagett.

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Pacific Northwest Conference Summer United Church News copyright © June 2023


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