The Racial Equity team at Westminster was founded in the early summer of 2020, shortly after the tragic murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN. We struggled to comprehend the senseless and brutal racial violence and felt called to respond in some meaningful way. A group of about fifteen people gathered virtually, embarking on the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge, then reading and discussing Rev. James H. Cone’s A Black Theology of Liberation and Howard Thurman’s The Luminous Darkness.
The 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge allowed members to enter into the conversation of race relations in America through media, speakers, and topics that we found personally compelling and resonant. Cone’s book offered a pointed and challenging critique of our traditional understanding of Christianity and reframed the Exodus story in ways that broadened, deepened, and in some ways, corrected our understanding of God’s presence among the oppressed. Cone’s work demanded that we examine our inheritance of a nation organized by systems intentionally designed to segregate and subjugate beloved children of God, that we wrestle with how the church has propagated these systems, and that we work to discern what we, individually and collectively and as followers of Christ, wish to do with this inheritance.
As the larger group continued its foundational inreach, a steering team formed to identify and recommend specific strategies to engage the congregation in the difficult work of examining our individual complicity in racism, and to equip ourselves and our community for mindful outreach that rightfully centers the experiences and perspectives of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. The team used (and continues to use) the Christian need for confession as its primary organizing construct.
The Racial Equity Team, as it became to be known, developed the following mission statement: Our purpose is to engage the Westminster community in dismantling systemic racism through a process of learning, spiritual growth, and individual and collective actions. As a community, a covenant people, we want to do this in a way that helps us move towards God’s vision of creation; bound together in our fight to ensure justice, equity, and inclusion for all people.
This important work is supported by the PC(USA) at large: “Because of our biblical understanding of who God is and what God intends for humanity, the PC(USA) must stand against, speak against, and work against racism. Antiracist effort is not optional for Christians. It is an essential aspect of Christian discipleship, without which we fail to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.” – From Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community Churchwide Antiracism Policy
The Racial Equity Team identified three avenues through which we would encourage and empower racial equity work amongst the congregation: through Christian Education, spiritual growth (inreach), and individual and collective action (outreach). Westminster is a member of the inter-church Moral Message Ministry, which seeks to bring more love and inclusion to government policy at all levels and listen to God and understand others while influencing government policy, legislation, and action toward equity and justice for all people.
Please subscribe to our newsletter by contacting Marietta Wynands, Director of Christian Education, to stay abreast of opportunities to grow with and through WPC and our community in this vital ministry.
Educational Resources for Learning and Talking About Race
As Christians, we are called to live with and care for one another in community. However, when we show up to support oppressed or marginalized communities, our good intentions can cause harm if we’re not adequately informed and prepared. We invite you to join us in becoming educated about the history and scope of the problems faced by the communities we hope to support. Educational offerings and outreach opportunities are organized thematically for a given year. The theme for 2023 is racial justice and legal issues. Visit our education page to check out classes, videos, experiences, and other resources available.
Resources for Children & Families
Tips for Talking to Children About Race and Racism by Erin Winkler, Associate Professor of Africology and Urban Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. What Do We Tell Our Children? From USA Today, how to approach the topics of police brutality and events surrounding the protests with both white children and children of color
Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America, book by Jennifer Harvey, professor of religion and ethics at Drake University