White Supremacy and Your Faith Community: Three Questions to Consider

Friends, here are three key questions for your faith community to wrestle with in the wake of the recent events in Virginia. We’ve offered some resources that we hope will support you as you pray through these issues together.

1) What’s the long work your faith community is doing to build beloved community in your neighborhood?

As we look with love and courage at the way that racism is woven into the fabric of our own souls and lives and faith communities — however progressive we may believe ourselves to be – it’s the proactive engagement of healing and reconciliation in our neighborhoods that should be our focus. Joining with God’s work is what we are about. What does that look like for your faith community?

A few resources for this work available in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota:

  • Missional Leadership Lab : This cohort-style experience is specially for small groups of leaders from ECMN faith communities: a laboratory in the practices of missional leadership. Try on new practices in your home context and join the group to reflect on what you discovered, with monthly online readings to spur your faith and challenge your imagination about what the Holy Spirit is up to around us, and how the church can join in!
  • Building Bridges Across Culture and Race:  Meaningful steps toward dismantling racism start with understanding our own cultural lens and learning to listen deeply in relationship with others. This course trains you to build your ability to recognize and reconstruct your own cultural and racial bias.
  • Don’t miss the Racial Reconciliation Toolkit. Last year’s ECMN Mission Opportunity built an online toolkit of excellent resources of all kinds for learning about race and reconciliation.
  • Join us at ECMN’s upcoming Convention to dig deeper as we embrace the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of Beloved Community.

2) How is your faith community called to respond to incidents of hate crime in your neighborhood? How would you prepare if there were to be a white supremacist rally in your town?

  • Read the Southern Poverty Law Center’s updated 10 Ways to Fight Hate document together, with your vestry or at coffee hour. What of those things is your faith community already well-equipped to do? What can you begin doing now to build resilient networks of relationships and articulate a vision of God’s shalom in your area? What other resources and groups in your neighborhood can you have this conversation with? What unique gifts can your organization offer in such a moment?
  • Check out this page of updated resources, including a message from the Presiding Bishop, from episcopalchurch.org.
  • Click here to access five courses on racial justice, through our partner ChurchNext. These courses are short and self-paced, and can be accessed by individuals at home, or by faith communities for group conversation. (They’re free for members of Episcopal Church in Minnesota faith communities — everyone else, please go directly to ChurchNext — they’re not expensive!)

3) What resources does your faith community have to reach out to those in your network who are tempted to ideologies of hate?

Can you articulate from your faith why white supremacy, hatred, and bigotry are antithetical to the Gospel? Are you clear about the dangers of those worldviews — not only to our civic life or to those who are the targets of violence, but also to the very souls of those who are recruited into hate groups?

And: Is someone in your faith community equipped to use their pastoral authority not just to condemn racism, but to invite white supremacists to repentance? Is someone in your faith community willing to walk alongside such a person with love and hard truth, to be in relationship with them in such a way that would allow for the healing of their soul and the reparations they would need to make to be returned to good standing in your community?

This may be the area where we are least prepared, friends. And it may be the area where the Church has unique capacity to be a force for healing.

  • The School for Formation’s Pastoral Offices  course will walk through Episcopal resources for sacramental rites around life transitions, confession, and healing. This course might be a good step for those in your faith community looking to engage healing ministry of many kinds.