Manuel Ellis. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Alton Sterling. Troy Robinson. Sandra Bland.Tamir Rice. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. James Chaney. Mack Charles Parker. Emmett Till. Mary Turner and unborn child. The “60 million and more,” as Toni Morrison puts it.
While our bodies and souls ache with the recent abuses of power, we also recognize them as the most recent manifestation of a system that is older than our country. Our collective healing is tied to repentance and to the dismantling of systemic injustice and fear that continues to horrifically terrorize and target Black and Brown bodies. The work before us is immense, urgent, and important.
Faith communities have a vital role in cultural transformation. Churches are a source for many of us to discern God’s hopes for humanity, to align our desire with God’s, and to reorient ourselves towards the pursuit of that vision.
We are aware that, although we long for more diversity, The Seattle School community is predominantly white. With that in mind, we compiled resources for churches that are predominantly white to engage race, no matter where they are in the conversation. In this era, perhaps churches can join not only the lament of the oppressed, and also make active progress towards the invitation to justice and peace.
Starting Places for Small Group Discussion
“How to Have Helpful Conversations About Race in the Church,” from Women of the ELCA, is an 11-page guide for a process and tools for race conversations.
For a leadership team, “Elements of White Middle-Class Dominant Culture,” adapted by Scott Winn. This document names components of dominant culture that are often invisible to those who live in it; it points out the air we breathe. Where do these components feel true of your congregation’s culture? What other options might you cultivate? Follow-up with “White Dominant Culture & Something Different,” adapted by Partners for Collaborative Change.
Victoria Alexander has anti-racism reading lists for Starting, Intermediate, Specific Topics, and Personal Narratives.
My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, by Resmaa Menakem. He addresses three audiences concurrently: white people, black/brown people, and law enforcement officers. For each, he not only teaches theory but also guides through practices for healing our bodies in order to heal relationships and communities.
The Minority Experience: Navigating Emotional and Organizational Realities by Adrian Pei illustrates examples of white supremacy and racism through leadership in a ministry setting. Recommended for use with a leadership team.
The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby addresses the American Church’s complicity in racism by examining the history of Christianity in the United States.
Videos & Movies
BlacKkKlansman is not only entertaining, its characters provide multiple entry points into conversations on race, culture, and law enforcement.
In addition to the book, The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby is also a 12 part series on Amazon Prime Video.
Trainings and Experiences
White Privilege: Let’s Talk, from The United Church of Christ, is a free, downloadable curriculum for white faith communities wishing to “engage in safe, meaningful, substantive, and bold conversations on race.”
Cultures Connecting provides culturally relevant professional development, keynotes, consulting, coaching and one-on-one diversity leadership support to organizations committed to improving their ability to work effectively across cultures.
Mosaix Global Network exists to establish healthy multiethnic, economically diverse, socially just churches.
Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training facilitates conversations and trainings for congregations to address race issues within the community.
When travel re-opens, consider a group pilgrimage to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. Dr. J. Derek McNeil writes about his experience here.
Resources for Children & Youth Engagement
Embrace Race has resources to inform children about race, including webinars, stories, articles, children’s book lists, and action guides.
Theologies and Frameworks for Pastors
Dr. Soong-Chan Rah on The Necessity of Lament in Troubled Times, and the following panel discussion.
Dr. Angela Parker (former professor at The Seattle School) on Developing a Prophetic Voice, and calling us to resist being a chaplain of the empire.
In their final year of school, students in our Master of Arts in Theology & Culture and Master of Divinity programs create an integrative project — our version of a master’s thesis. Some of this year’s projects are on:
- US public monuments and race
- White supremacy consciousness
- Power (links go to 10-minute video presentations of their work)
Relevant projects from previous years include:
- Whiteness, White Supremacy, and What the White Church Can Do About It
- Race, Religion, and Protest
- Black [Musical] Aesthetics as a Mode of Discipleship
- The Belovedness of the Black Woman Despite Racial Trauma
- How to be Messy but Functional as a White Person
Difference through a Theology of the Racialized Body
Alumni gather annually in Symposia to share what they’ve learned while “serving God and neighbor through transforming relationships” in 20-minute presentations. Relevant topics:
- Internalized Racism & the Racial Empathy Gap
- A Case for Embodiment: Reframing Anti-Oppression Work
- Redeeming Identity in a Rapidly Changing Context
Books, Articles, and Lists
We curated this list of theologians and women of color who are at the forefront of conversations about womanist theology, gender, feminism, and race in the church.
The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone marries practical theology and social justice work.
“I Can’t Breathe” by Linda Royster, identifying Christ as the “suffocating Son of Man,” present with those whose breath is cut off at the hands of government systems.
Because law enforcement disproportionately kills African-Americans, and addressing that discrepancy is an urgent need, these resources are largely about the Black experience. We recognize that healing must also be done with Native, Latin American, and Asian American bodies, history, and culture, perhaps especially here in the Pacific Northwest. Because we know our community is primarily white, and because it is white people’s fear that puts black and brown bodies in danger, these resources also discuss white identity and show white bodies doing the work of engaging race.
We recognize that this is not a comprehensive list of resources. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what you would add.