First an announcement:
Join us at 7 pm this Sunday for a prayer vigil for justice and change in the parking lot next to the sanctuary (Christmas Tree Lot). To keep everyone safe and follow best practices, please wear a mask, follow markings on the ground to maintain 6 feet separation, and bring your own chair if you’d like one. The bathrooms will NOT be available. Please park in the lot across from the church or next to the education building.
Dear Washington Farm families,
I have found myself feeling sad and overwhelmed during this past week. COVID-19 has kept us isolated and now, we are propelled into a world and a conversation that we may feel unprepared for. The important conversations of white privilege and racial inequality start with us. I was born in a post-civil rights world and taught in many ways “not to see color”. While our inclination is that in terms of equality the color of a person’s skin should not matter, in the truth of experiences, color matters deeply.
When Lydia was four years old, she wanted to wear her hair in as many ponytails or braids as we could possibly create (it was not a lot, eight on a day I really tried). She also wanted African American baby dolls, a Native American American Girl Doll, and told everyone to vote for Barack Obama because she wanted to have the first African American President. Her friends were all children of color and at four she really literally didn’t know that her life was different than theirs. She saw them and saw herself. In letting her be who she saw herself, there were some family of our family members who struggled. They wanted us to correct her and make sure she understood she was not black. It didn’t take long before the world did that for her. We really didn’t need to try to figure out how to tell our four year old.
But raising this unique child did make two things clear. Our children’s friends who are people of color walk in this world in a way that is different than us. Another hard truth to hold is that people I love did not want my child to be a person of color. This is what we call an implicit bias. We don’t realize it. We would never say it this way if asked. But if the answer is I know I wouldn’t want to wake up black in America (or have my children or grandchildren be black), then we know we don’t really see equality among the color of people’s skin.
I see color. I value the variety of cultures. I know there is a history we are not taught, some of which I know and much I don’t. I have friends of color but I live and move in a white world. I am guilty of silence and being eaten up by shame and frozen by fear. But I also know as Christians, we are uniquely qualified to advance this conversation so that real changes can be made. This is a movement that matters that will make change as long as white people start seeing color and stop being afraid to talk about it.
The first thing I would suggest is to become educated: read, listen to podcast, watch movies, have conversations, learn about the history of racism and how implicit bias works. Talk to your kids. Learn the names of victims so you can know their stories. We have attached some places to begin.
A colleague, Lauren Chafin Lobenhofer, shared this modern parable: “When Jesus talked about the shepherd with the 100 sheep, he didn’t say “All sheep matter,” he described a shepherd who went to look for the one that was lost and in danger. When Black lives are those being destroyed unjustly, we have a responsibility to say, specifically and firmly, that Black lives matter.”
I am available to assist in whatever way I am able. If you are interested in being part of a group talking about our implicit bias and racism, please let me know. More events and resources are listed in the attached document. I hope you will take the first step in joining with me in prayer Sunday night. My prayers are with you.
Blessings and joy,
The joy of The Lord is our strength, all times, all places.
Washington Farm United Methodist Church
“The little green church on the corner: A family growing in faith and service.”