The purpose of this team is to coordinate a long-range program in the region to challenge racism and create an anti-racism agenda for the Region. The vision of the Pro-Reconciliation/ Anti-Racism Team of the Christian Church in IL & WI is to respond to God’s call to be a fully transformed, anti-racist, multi-cultural church. By acknowledging that racism is sin and is deeply embedded in the systems and power of our institution, it is necessary that we claim as members of the Body of Christ, an anti-racist identity that reconciles, empowers, heals, and makes whole.
The Disciples Reconciliation Ministry website defines the Pro-Reconciling Anti-Racism Initiative as such:
- Racism is a spiritual and theological dilemma as well as a social evil;
- Racist practice exists throughout the life of the church and needs to be addressed. The church needs to get its own “house” in order even as it looks toward being a transformational agent in the larger world;
- Racism is a systemic problem with historical root causes;
- Racism can be defined in many ways. This initiative is based on an analysis of racism that understands racism to be a combination of racial prejudice and institutional and/or economic power.
When conceived, the initiative was based on a vision for the church as a place “where brothers and sisters of all races, languages, and cultures will grow towards God’s glorious realm, where all have a place at the table, and none shall be turned away.”
The Initiative called the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to practice faithfulness with regard to the elimination of racism, which exists in all manifestations of the church, to discern the presence and nature of racism as sin, to develop strategies to eradicate it, and to work toward racial reconciliation.
Click here for more information on Reconciliation Ministry in the General Church (Disciples of Christ).
One Region One Book
Two years ago, the Pro-reconciliation AntiRacism Team encouraged us to read and discuss John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me. In this American classic, Howard, a privilege what Southern man, came to understand what it was like to be a black man in the 1950s in New Orleans. Last year, the Team asked us to look at the contributions of persons of color as we read The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights by Carole Boston Weatherford. This year, the team has picked an equally challenging and provocative book by encouraging everyone to read and each congregation to read Ernest J. Gaines A Lesson Before Dying: A Novel.
Set in a small Cajun community in the late 1940s this novel asks us to consider what it means to be human, to live and to die with dignity. It explores the consequences of important life choices as Grant struggles with what it means to stay or escape his surroundings by moving to another state. While set in the 1940s, Gaines understanding of the human psyche asks us to engage with universally relevant questions. At the same time, it gives us insights into the struggles of persons of color both historically and in our society today.
The Pro-Reconciliation Anti-Racism Team invites you to read A Lesson Before Dying and then join us at the Regional Assembly in October as we share our insights and lessons learned in reading this book at a Regional Book Club Discussion on Friday, October 10 in Washington, IL. The team will provide refreshments and leadership for a vigorous discussion of what are vital lessons to be learned before dying.
NBS Questions A list of questions.
Study Guide A study guide with questions.
A Service of Lament in Response to Racial Killings
- William Barber, Forward Together
- Will Campbell, Brother to a Dragon Fly
- Elaine Robinson, Race and Theology
- Chris Crass, Towards the “Other America;” Antiracist Resources for White People
- Leah Gunning Francis, Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community (Chalice, 2015)
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Trumpet of Conscience (Beacon, reprint 2010)
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau, 2015)
- Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in An Age of Colorblindness (New Press, 2010)
- Jamala Rogers, Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebellion (self-published)
- Pamela R. Lightsey, Our Lives Matter: A Womanist Queer Theology (Pickwick, 2015)
- Elaine Scarry, Thinking in an Emergency (Norton, 2012 reprint edition)