The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
In October, the Rev. Jen Collins and the Rev. Elizabeth Flomo attended a Transforming White Privilege curriculum facilitators’ training in Chicago. They were sent as a team to bring the curriculum back to our synod as an additional resource in our anti-racism work.
“When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” - Audre Lord
In early October, we joined representatives from nine other ELCA synods for three days of training. Each person in attendance was part of existing or developing racial justice work groups in their synod. The goal: to increase the capacity to help leaders be able to identify, talk about, and disrupt white privilege, and to act for racial justice.
Being a part of the training mattered because we got to talk with leaders in other synods who are working on their anti-racism teams. It brought together people from across the country. It offered the opportunity to hear other entry points in creating positive change within our synod, as well as reminding us about the bigger picture of the church. Judith Roberts, the organizer for racial justice in the ELCA, provided an overview of how different pieces of current ELCA racial justice work fits together.
It was inspiring to be able to validate each person as a wisdom holder. Each person offered their own strengths to the room and conversation, and helped us build relationship. Both of us appreciated our group norms – particularly the commitment to non-closure. This is not a problem we can “fix.” We are seeking intentional learning, not perfection. And we invite you in to this journey with us.
The materials presented were not all new information, but the format of the modules makes it easier to customize and choose a section to use with a particular group. And this work is not for the sake of ourselves, but it challenged us to say, “What will happen if we do nothing?”
If we do nothing, black and brown bodies are at stake – literally their lives are at stake. Pastor Elizabeth notes that, “As a white person, I can leave conversations and trainings like this and forget – that is my white privilege in action. Yet, we are interconnected as Christ’s body in the work and what is truly at stake is my soul.”
We want to see ourselves grow – as individuals, as congregations, as a synod. We can’t be content with being Minnesota nice when in fact it isn’t nice, but rather gives a superficial covering for biases, conflict and fear.
Mark your calendars: the monthly meeting of Anti-Racism and Multicultural work group is the 3rd Thursday of the month, from 7-8:30pm at the synod office conference room. Representatives from congregational racial equity teams meet to share updates, plan additional congregation and synod events. Watch for info in the coming months about a training offering in March and information about the Transforming White Privilege sessions.
The Rev. Elizabeth Flomo
The Rev. Jen Collins