Dear Northminster friends,
In the past year, we have been reminded again and again that racial injustice is still a powerful force in our country, our community, and in our lives. The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd somehow touched us more powerfully than those of the countless who preceded them. Some of us joined protests. We also watched protestors across the country being met with violent police response, and wondered about the difference in response when insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol in January. People of color are contracting and dying from COVID-19 at disproportionate rates than people who are white. Even as Evanston moves to implement a reparations program, school officials were threatened for re-opening plans that considered equity, and a black woman running for Alderman was attacked with hate speech during an online event. When our own congregation put up a sign to proclaim that “Black Lives Matter to God and to Us,” someone cut out the word “Black.” Again and again, it was repaired and replaced. Again and again it was vandalized.
How do we think about and process these events? As followers of Jesus Christ, what can we do to interrupt and dismantle white supremacy, and push back against racism in all its forms?
During this Lenten season, Northminster’s Racial Justice Task Force invites you to join us in reflecting on racism and taking up the call for racial justice. Within the daily Lenten devotional emails, you will find opportunities to read, watch, or listen to pieces on a variety of related topics. Most can be experienced in 15 minutes or less, but we invite you to spend as much time as you wish by clicking on embedded links, exploring websites, participating in events, and taking actions in response. For those just beginning to learn about racism, and those who want more, you can join others in reading and discussing “Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America,” by Michael Eric Dyson. Dive in where you feel called; pause when you need to.
We are each on a journey, whether seeing things we never noticed before, or having already invested time in learning and ready for action. A few of us have lived experience as people of color that the rest of us will never know. Our starting place is as a mostly white congregation, in a white-centered culture. You may find some of the materials troubling; they may make you feel uncomfortable and invoke emotions of sadness, anger, and guilt. We encourage you to keep a journal, talk with family and friends, and to pray everyday as part of this process. Most of all, we ask you to stay engaged, for as we become more educated about and dissatisfied with the status quo, we will be even more determined to create the Beloved Community, where all people are able to live fully free.
The season of Lent is a time of intention. As each of us considers what it means to be a disciple of Christ, we hope this daily ritual will provide an opening to be transformed and to transform.
Your sisters and brothers in Christ,
The Racial Justice Task Force: Kelly Brest Van Kempen, Jackie Eddy, Nancy Kim Phillips, Erica Mbangamoh, Bruce McBratney, David Rankin, Ian Ross, Nan Snowden, Amber Yancey-Carroll
Staff: Michael Kirby, Jessica Gregory, Ann Ohlrogge Johnson
You are invited to accept an opportunity and challenge to read and discuss the
A weekly book discussion group will meet on Mondays at 12:30 p.m. via Zoom. Depending on interest, an additional group may be added. Please check the Northminster newsletter or contact [email protected] for more information.
The author, Michael Eric Dyson, is a Baptist preacher who is also a university and seminary teacher and is writing this book because he can’t “give up on the possibility that white America can definitively, finally, hear from one black American preacher a plea, a cry, a sermon, from my heart to yours.”
If you are interested in participating, please email Ann Ohlrogge Johnson.
The entire breadth of Northminster's Lenten Anti-Racism Opportunities are available in one place, organized by type of activity and topic. Every item has links to relevent information.
Browse, search, and learn at your own pace and when you have time. Take a minute to watch another video. Or read. Or get involved. The complete table is here.
Northminster's sign has been defaced several times recently. Neighbors and the congregation have responded with a new sign and support!
Northminster's response to the killing of George Floyd.