The Welcome Table: Racial Justice Task Force
Our country appears to be finally becoming more aware of how egregious racial injustice is and how deeply embedded it is in our fabric. As a church, St. Paul has been talking for years about wanting to do more to address racial injustice. The time is now.
Given our history as a church of standing up for justice, starting with LGBTQ+ rights, we have the right culture to address this. We know that, as a majority-white congregation, this is our work to do. We also know we will make a lot of mistakes. We will keep learning and listening.
We’ve been meeting since summer 2020 with the temporary name of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) task force.
And now we have a new name! The Welcome Table: Racial Justice Task Force.
Welcome is part of St. Paul’s vision!
We invite and welcome all people into a safe, diverse, open and affirming community. The song “The Welcome Table” became an anthem of the Civil Rights movement. You can listen to “I’m Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table” sung by Hollis Watkins (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Sing For Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Its Songs) here.
Here is some of what we have been doing:
- Early in 2020, a group read Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US by Lenny Duncan, an ELCA pastor. This book is a strong beginning to understand how the entire ELCA, and ELCA member churches including ours, continue to perpetuate racial injustice.
- We’ve continued discussions of racial injustice and anti-racism in the Book Group, discussing books such as The Color of Law.
- We’ve started discussing and removing symbols of white supremacy from our church. The first one to go was the hooded white robes that are also the symbol of the Ku Klux Klan. The Worship, Art, and Music Committee is looking at other symbols.
- Other small groups have been working with the Just Faith program. In fall 2020, a group completed the series, “Faith & Racial Equity”; in the summer of 2021 a second group completed the series “Faith & Racial Healing: Embracing Trust, Justice and Restoration”. This program narrates a side of history that few of us learned in high school, shedding new light on the racial injustices we encounter today. Faith and Racial Healing also guides participants in discerning practical action steps for working for racial justice and healing.
- We are planning a 3-4 hour training, initially for St Paul leadership, focused on bias and inclusion. At our last meeting, we developed a request for proposal (RFP) for facilitators to lead the training. Do you have a recommendation for a trainer? Let us know.
- This is the beginning of the learning process, inspired by Maya Angelou’s quote “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Please consider joining our next meeting. Meetings are the first Tuesday of the month at 7 pm. Contact Karen Franchino [email protected] for more info. All are welcome!
God be with us all and give us strength to make positive change.