This spring, the School for Formation launched a new course: Building Bridges Across Culture and Race. This course built on the work of listening and storytelling from the 2016 Convention of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota — training participants to build their ability to recognize and reconstruct your own cultural and racial bias. With a generous gift from the Mission Opportunity budget, we were able to offer a promotional price, and over 16 participants signed up and got one-on-one coaching in response their Intercultural Development Inventory results, building their own ongoing development plans.
The need for training like this course isn’t new. But perhaps the energy that brought so many people to sign up was new — in response to the painfully visible crisis in our country. The American civic narrative is in crisis across axes of moral righteousness, equality, opportunity, and justice. People of faith see the deep divisions among their neighbors and know that this surely is not God’s dream for the world.
What’s next? If the Holy Spirit is stirring unrest in your soul around issues of race and culture, what can you do to respond?
Here are five great ways to keep your learning about culture and race alive this spring:
- Build relationships. It can be as simple as taking your coffee habit to a new shop, greeting the person on the bus next to you, or joining your neighborhood association or PTA.
- Consider a deeper dive in conversation with others. Check out the Urban Homeworks Non-Resident Neighbor program — a structured ways to meet monthly for learning about the issues impacting our world and get some great one-on-one coaching with others following the way of Jesus.
- Keep learning, and invite your friends! Take part in the 5 short self-paced online courses on racial justice, offered free through the School for Formation during the Easter season! You can take them at home by yourself or with a group of friends.
- Branch out for more conversation! Upcoming Mission Area Gatherings will include the theme of racial reconciliation. There are incredible opportunities to engage and learn across difference coming up — check out the SFF’s More Resources page for a curated list, including the YWCA, Healing Minnesota Stories’ Sacred Sites Tour, Ramadan Meals, Hispanic Ministry, and more.
- Read and reflect. Continuing to reflect on your intercultural learning, through journaling and conversation, will keep you engaged! One suggestion: Living Without Enemies by Sam Wells and Marcia Owen. This book tells the story of how some residents of Durham, NC worked to address gun violence through activism and legislation — and found the Holy Spirit leading them instead into prayerful, mournful presence with those affected by violence, and deeply affecting friendships with people re-entering society after incarceration. It’s a hopeful, challenging book about the movement from ‘working for’ others to ‘being with’ others.
Don’t forget: If you didn’t get a chance to join in the Building Bridges course this year, it’s not too late — it will be offered again next year!