Black Lives Matter:
Listening and Learning

Dear Ones,

Krista Tippet said it best: we stand at the edge of “the redemptive landscape on which the work of the rest of our lifetimes is emerging.” Contemplate that. Paradoxically, it is a hard statement of sorrow, but at the same time a calling full of promise and hope. 

As we have for years, First Austin will continue to commit to being part of this redemptive work; in fact, we believe this is the church going forward. As one of you said to me, this is the “better normal” we are creating. We are either the church participating in this work or we must close our doors. 

Our affirmation that Black Lives Matter goes hand-in-hand with our value of being a place for all people. This stretches far beyond any political platform or partisan agenda--this is about being a Jesus-oriented church.

I am most encouraged by the work you have shared with me this week: the readings you are doing, the letters you are writing, the funds you are donating, the protests you are attending. I want to let you know what the church will be offering in the coming weeks and months, because we know this is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Additionally, we have listed resources from voices that are incredibly important to us right now. 
Small Group Offerings
Below is a simple listing; more information about each of these
(including how to sign up) is found at the conclusion of this email.
Registration required.
Netflix and Faith
hosted by Jared -- a Sunday morning learning series that centers black voices.

Anti-racism book club for students &
Youth Sunday School focused on racism
hosted by Carrie

Black Hymnody: Tradition for Our Times
Join Ross and guest speaker, Joslyn Henderson, for a 2-week, Wednesday night series discovering the connection between Black hymnody and racism.

Whiteness and Us
led by Griff and Penny Riordan -- a 6-week online discussion aimed at understanding our identity and how we can do more to fight for racial injustice as individuals and as a church.
Resources for Children and Family
The following links have information to help parents talk to their children about race, racism, justice and tolerance, including lists of recommended books and movies for parents to read and watch with their children. 

Click the picture of Ms. Dorothy for a message to children.
Reading for Adults
podcast episode with Resmaa Menakem and Krista Tippet
TED Talk with Bryan Stevenson
podcast episode with Ibram Kendi and Brene Brown
documentary available on YouTube
Netflix documentary available on YouTube
with Latasha Morrison
by Anna Deavere Smith
Digital stream of Zach Theatre's production
starring Trinity Street Players performer Michelle Alexander
Finally, if you are interested in being part of distributing water and aid at upcoming marches and protests, please email Griff. He is putting together a list of those who want to be part of this work.

We will be part of the redemptive landscape.

Grace and peace.

...more information on small group offerings...
Anti-racism book club for students : All youth (and college students) are invited to read any of the titles included in the recommended book list at their leisure, but we meet together once a month to discuss specific titles. Our first meeting will be in July and we will discuss “Dear Martin” by Nic Stone.
Contact Carrie with questions.

Youth Sunday school
at 1pm on Sundays: Discussions will focus on racism and how students can be a part of the change even during quarantine.
Contact Carrie with questions.
Black Hymnody: Tradition for Our Times
Join us the next two Wednesdays, June 17 and June 24 at 6:00 p.m. as we survey the historical and theological contexts of Black hymnody, what it can teach us about the Black experience, and how it speaks to racism today. These sessions will be facilitated by Ross and guest speaker, Joslyn Henderson (BA, Spelman College [2011], MDiv/MM Candidate, Truett Seminary). To register, email Ross.
Whiteness and Us
(led by Penny Riordan and Griff Martin)

A six-week, Thursday-night online discussion where we will read and discuss White Fragility and How to Be an Antiracist.
Begins June 25th.
This group will read the books and then reflectively ask what spoke, what hurt and what must we now do. This group will be limited to 12 homes; if there are more participants, a second group will be formed. To register, email Griff.