June 18, 2020 | The Fourth Week of Pentecost
"Sure, but what can I DO about racism?"
Northminster Family,

Many of us are waking up to the racist systems we’re swimming in, and what is more humbly, the ways we’ve unknowingly been perpetuating those racist systems. As we march or watch marches, we’re becoming more aware of the deep-seated problems faced by people of color in the United States, and of the ways we daily benefit from white supremacy.

In the wake of these awakenings and in response to some of the worship and educational spaces we’ve held at Northminster over the last few weeks, I’ve been hearing one question come through clearly: 

What do we  do ??

People use different words, but the need to do right, to be part of the solution, is consistent. There’s a sense of helplessness. Do we go march? Do we post in solidarity on social media?  What difference would it make?  we ask.  What do we  do ??

That’s an excellent question.

On one hand, we often feel so pressured to  do something , that we do things which aren’t actually helpful. Last week, in an interview with  Vox , author Ijeoma Oluo said this about purely symbolic acts of solidarity:

These [symbolic acts] are not things that black people come up with. When I’m thinking, what would help me feel safe in this country? It’s not “I wish everyone’s Instagram squares were black.” I can’t feel that. Especially when coupled with the disengagement — people do this performative gesture and then disengage. People aren’t even open to the feedback of why that’s not helpful or what they could be doing to be helpful.

Be wary of anything that allows you to do something that isn’t actually felt by people of color. Be wary of things that are purely symbolic; they are not helpful. We are not dying because of lack of symbolism in this country, so question who benefits from that. If what you think is, oh, it made me feel better, then you’re the one who’s benefiting from it.

Stay away from those things and question them, because that energy does take away.

As one who changed his profile picture to a black square, I think I speak for all of us when I say,  Ouch . There’s a temptation to feel helpless, but then I remember what Maya Angelou wrote: 

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

The black square, and other responses like it, are an indicator for me what when many of us ask what we can do, what we mean is:  What pre-scripted thing can I do that’ll make me feel like I’m doing something good?  I’m reminded of an interview with Ava DuVernay regarding her documentary  13 th . In trying to come up with a way to end her project, she intentionally resisted the urge to put a specific call to action on the screen. There is no  Call this number Give to this organization , or  Contact your senator!  Instead, she pointed out that there are so many levels to this problem, from ideologies to institutions to individual interactions, that there is no single “pre-scripted” piece of advice she could give someone that wouldn’t be a reduction. There are many on-ramps into this story, and she wanted us to find our own. As Wil Gafney wrote, “No one is going to hand you a safe and effective platform for change.”

So, if we’re staying away from helpless inaction on one side, and pat, symbolic answers on the other,  what do we do?

Here is one way to answer that question, the way I believe to be the most helpful: 

You get ready to say yes.

Right now, unless there is a clear path forward for you (in which case you’re probably not reading this!), spend your energy educating yourself about systemic racism and your place in it. Read articles. Read books like  White Fragility  or  How to Be An Antiracist . Watch films like  13 th  or  Black Power Mixtape  or  The Hate You Give or  BlacKkKlansman . Expose yourself to Black voices and to the stakes in the fight until you cultivate a spirit willing to take risks for what’s right. Come into awareness of the ways racism is so deeply ingrained in the system, in air you breathe, because even for those of us who think we’re “progressive,” this work is never really done.

Then , when a way opens, you’ll be ready to say yes. Then you’ll be ready to recognize what is uniquely yours to do, moment by moment. Then you’ll be ready to respond, not just with passion, but with  informed  passion. Then you’ll be able to jump in not just as an ally, but as a  co-conspirator , willing to share in the risks.

That’s what we’re hoping to equip you to do, to the extend you’re ready to do it. We are creating spaces in worship and over Zoom to wake up to the reality of systemic racism, to find our place in it, so that when our moment comes to respond, we’ll be able to authentically step in as informed, anti-racist co-conspirators. If anyone has questions or pushback, or just wants to talk more about this, I would welcome any phone or Zoom calls.

If you'd like to explore what becoming an anti-racist organization looks like for Northminster right now, see DH's "Holy Idea" in the Holy Ideas section below.

May God bless this holy work of anti-racism,

Zach

[Photograph and article referenced from https://www.vox.com/2020/6/9/21285062/ijeoma-oluo-interview-talk-race-book-george-floyd-protests?fbclid=IwAR3aAuSRHS47g__ZzJZ7oajnnsMxIew7PGfkk1tflvJlZO_ym80pTnKbrBw.]
The Prayers of the People
An opportunity to celebrate and pray alongside siblings in our community.
We pray alongside...

Tammy Conrad , who is still in Wisconsin with her father, who is in hospice care.

Brittani Creed and her family as they mourn the loss of her father, David Creed, last week.

Renee Decker who travels to and from Virginia next week to pick up Marilyn from a visit with her sister.
We celebrate with...

Denzell Denagall (20th), Josh Evans (20th), Mary McCandlish (22nd),
and Marilyn Decker (24th) who celebrate their birthdays.
If you have concerns or celebrations you would like us to add to the newsletter, please call the church office or email office@northmin.org. 
The Work of the People
How we are responding to the Spirit of Love
Engaging White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
It's not too late to join us on Wednesday nights to discuss this important book written especially for white progressives trying to discern how to engage in antiracist work. We'll discuss Chapters 3-4 on Wednesday, 6/24 at 7:15pm.

"Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively."
Juneteenth Vigil: Imagining a Future
The Alliance of Baptists has issued an invitation for us to join a Juneteenth Vigil on June 19th at 2:30pm over Zoom. Click the link below to register.
From the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty:
The annual BJC Luncheon has never been more accessible! Join religious liberty advocates across the country from the comfort of your own space as we gather virtually on Friday, June 26.

This event will be free and open to everyone, but you must  register to attend . We’ll be broadcasting live from Washington, D.C., from noon until 1 p.m. Eastern Time. 

Our event will feature a conversation with Robert P. Jones, the author of the forthcoming book White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity. Jones will be interviewed by MSNBC’s Joy Reidduring the event. Jones is the CEO and founder of PRRI and a leading scholar and commentator on religion, culture and politics. Hear more from him in a  Q&A available on our website .
 
The 2020 luncheon will feature updates on our work, members of the BJC community and the latest religious liberty developments. 

Don’t wait —  register today !

Do you need help getting groceries, or financially?
Do you need help getting groceries this week? Don't be a hero! If you're in the more vulnerable population, please stay where you are and let us help. There are church members who have offered to meet this exact need.

If you've lost your source of income because of COVID-19 and find yourself in need of food, assistance, or money, please contact your care group leader or office@northmin.org.

You can also check out our website, at https://www.northmin.org/resources-in-monroe-1.

We can help you navigate your options and connect you to folks to ensure your needs are met.

No one is alone in this.
Holy Ideas
How might we respond to the Spirit of Love?
In this new season of social distancing, we need holy ideas to help stretch our imaginations for what is possible within this community more than ever.

Since we can't make use of the physical "Holy Ideas" board in the hallway, we'll maintain it virtually and keep it updated here in the newsletter. If you have an idea for a way the church can be church in this season, or if you see an idea you'd like to support to help it become reality, email the office.
Racial Justice Task Force, from DH Clark
Micah issued his proclamation regarding the real work of God’s people, what God requires: “Do Justice…”

In this time of heightened awareness of continuing racial injustice, so prevalent in our country and around the world, in order to live up to our biblical mantra, I propose that members with expertise, experience, and energy around the area of racial justice pool their resources and share ideas in this vitally important area of justice.

This could ultimately result in a Racial Justice Task Group being formed in our church to provide a more structured and effective path to our DOING JUSTICE.
Giving to Northminster

Practicing Stewardship in an Uncertain Time
We are sensitive to the reality that financial uncertainty is one of the side effects of the spread of the coronavirus. However, if you find yourself in a position to continue or increase your contributions to the church, know that your donation will be greatly appreciated. We have made the decision to honor our commitments to all those on our payroll (ministers, staff, choral scholars, childcare) who are relying on this income in an anxious time, and we cannot do that without your continued support.

To support Northminster financially, you can click here , or scan the QR code below with the camera on your phone.
Over the Coming Week
Sunday 6/21
10am - Digital Sunday School
10:45am - Preludes and Online Chat
11am - Sunday Morning Liturgy
After Worship - Narthex Chat

Wednesday 6/24
5:30pm - White Fragility book study
6:30pm - Digital Choir "Rehearsal"
Worship This Week

The text this week is Matthew 10:24-27, 34-39

Claire Helton will preach Sunday's sermon, which will be streamed on our YouTube channel.
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