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5 April 2017

Dear Friends in Christ,

First God gave us the Beloved Son.  Then God gave us each other.  We celebrate the Connection that has grown up among us as we have lived our commitments to seeing the kin-dom of God grow strong in our generation.  We celebrate, and we share our needs and visions. 

We need your stories; let me explain.  We write to you as members of the Conference Commission on Religion and Race (CCORR).  Our commission received an urgent calling from those who were given a vision from God during our Northeast Jurisdictional Meeting.  Among other goals we believe that the Living God has commanded us to:

“Initiate ongoing internal and external conversations on white privilege, white supremacy, racism and oppression, including internalized oppression on every district, sub-district and within each local church.” (NEJ Call to Action, July 2017)

Racism disrupts our right relationships with God and one another.  Although this truth is commonly recognized, having the conversations that will uncover its hidden influence and lead to substantial change is difficult.  Well-meaning people become defensive and conversations end without fruit.  Stories can change that dynamic.  Over the next several years we will be sharing stories told with the intention of expanding the safe space of courageous conversation about race.  We are looking for stories of white people reflecting on the ways in which they have encountered their internalized racism or struggled to release white privilege.  We seek stories told from the perspective of people of color who have experienced the grace in the fight to overcome the harm racism does.  Ultimately, we hope to hear stories of the emergence of healthy relationships in ministry settings. 

We welcome your stories of struggle against racism and for the creation of beloved community.  We intend to invest these stories in the creation of a cultural environment in which people will have permission, invitation, and safe relationships in which to bring this painful material to the surface of our shared conversation.  Stories can be offered in written form or uploaded to You-Tube and shared with us through a link (click here).  There is a short personal information form that needs to be filled out for those stories to be shared in our conference media.  Please pass this invitation on to those in your circles.

All hands, on deck!  The threat posed to the church by the spirit of American style racism is mortal.  The Holy Spirit has spoken to the churches (for the full text of the NEJ Call click here) to equip us for the struggles that will lead to freedom for all by affirming that Black Lives Matter in our generation.  Seek out the struggle, both within and without, and let us depend together on the grace of God to bring victory.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Conference Commission on Religion and Race: Blenda Smith (Convener), Sandra Allen, Julius & Anola Archibald, Linda Hughes, David Heise, Scott Johnson, Aaron Moore, Shirley Readdean, Becky Sweet, Harold Wheat, & Georgia Whitney, Evelyn Woodring, Jay Yang.