The new year is here. Are you ready? 2020 will be a pivotal year for our nation. Much will ride upon upon how justice seeking Christians actively and humanely pursue the rights and duties of citizenship. Where to start? We need to educate ourselves and educate others in how to listen with empathy and to speak non-violently. Disciples also need to educate themselves about the systemic forces of racism and privilege at work in our nation which are leaving our children to suffer in poverty at a higher percentage than in any other developed nation. According to an April, 2019 report from the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) about 13 million American children live in homes with incomes below the poverty line. Deprived of a decent education and proper nutrition, many of these children are also put at risk for homelessness and violence. Two-thirds of those living in poverty are children of color.
I feel very blessed to be able to say that we, in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have a unique
opportunity to step out as an actively Pro-Reconciling and Anti-Racism denomination. DHM’s Pro-Reconciling and Anti-Racism Team implements a six year program of field trips, book readings and discussions and interactive training in anti-racism for all DHM staff and Board members. The program is annually reviewed and updated. This year we are adding a racial equity awareness challenge program which might make people a bit uncomfortable. Uncomfortable is not bad. We need to be uncomfortable if we are going to really deal with racism, up close and personal. We can’t just talk in abstractions if we are really to help each other become equipped as anti-racist leaders for our time.
I can’t state it strongly enough. This work needs to be intergenerational. Boomers, you really need to listen and learn from Gen X,Y and Xers! You may have listened to speeches by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and maybe even “walked” with him through the Civil Rights Movement of the 50’s and ’60’s but the world has changed. Let your Chi Rho and CYFer’s tell you all about it…and maybe you can teach them a few things too.
A good place to begin your intergenerational discussions is to listen and learn from the new Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for A Moral Revival. Its principles and demands are surely far too politically “left” for m
any Disciples of Christ members and leaders and yet we cannot ignore its radical call, for indeed, it is God’s prophetic call for our time.,
How can anyone – regardless of political perspective – disagree with the campaign’s first principle which says that “Moral revival is necessary to save the heart and soul of our democracy”? Certainly we agree! But agreement is not enough. To deal – really DEAL – with racism – to be anti-racist leaders – means that we, as Disciples of Christ need to actively”lift up and deepen the leadership of those most affected by systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, and ecological devastation and to build unity across lines of division.” OK, so maybe you can only deal with one or two of these interrelated evils of our time, but the Spirit of God is definitely moving in and through this call for moral revival and we need to pay attention to its guidance.
Like many, I plan to participate with a number of other Disciples colleagues in this group’s “Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington” on Saturday, June 20, 2020. I invite you to join me! Now, I recognize that this sort of action will not be appealing to some Disciples folks in rural Pennsylvania or Iowa, but I call all Disciples to at least study and discuss the documents and the actions of this new Poor People’s Campaign as a part of every congregation’s intergenerational faith formation program. (Yes, I plan to create a discussion guide.)
Perhaps even more important, we also need to listen well to our own Disciples Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II who is the president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, a not-for-profit organization that “seeks to build a moral agenda rooted in a framework that uplifts our deepest moral and constitutional values to redeem the heart and soul of our country.” Rev. Barber challenges the position that the preeminent moral issues in our nation are prayer in public schools, abortion, and property rights.
Instead, he declares that the moral public concerns of our faith traditions are how our society treats the poor, women, LGBTQ people, children, workers, immigrants, communities of color, and the sick. The Repairers of the Breach say, “Our deepest moral traditions point to equal protection under the law, the desire for peace within and among nations, the dignity of all people and the responsibility to care for our common home”. What a discussion starter! I am in! What about you?
Let’s talk! I can’t tell you what is right for your particular regional or congregational setting, but I CAN tell you that NOT TO DEAL AT ALL with our nation’s growing racism and poverty among such a large percentage of our families and children of color is immoral. Boomers, won’t you (and everyone else) please join me in responding prayerfully to God’s call to “deal” with racism in your life?
Please let me know what can I do to help you and your congregation figure out the appropriate way, time and place for you and your faith community to prayerfully begin to deal with the most relevant of the systemic economic and moral inequities which continue to foster racism and poverty in our nation. I look forward to hearing from you!