The Work We Have Been Given to Do
Task Force Recommendations to the People of Christ Church
The Dismantling Racism Task Force (members listed at the bottom of this page) began its work in late July 2020 as the Racial Reconciliation Task Force. The Task Force soon changed its name after reflecting on the historically slow progress made under the reconciliation model. The current state of racial injustice in this country has amplified past and present problems and urgently calls us to engage in creating lasting solutions. Reconciliation remains a goal for healing and is part of a larger need, which is to examine, become educated, and to take action to dismantle systemic racism.
The context of our use of the word “racism” is not limited to individual biases, conscious and unconscious. Significantly, the context also incorporates the system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representation, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing, ways to perpetuate racial inequity. Our use of the term “systemic racism” encompasses dimensions of our history and culture that have allowed privilege associated with “whiteness” and disadvantages associated with “color” to endure and adapt over time. Systemic racism is not something that only a few people or institutions choose to practice; rather, it has been and remains an endemic feature of the social, economic, and political systems that shape all of our lives.
Over the past nine weeks, the Task Force has met and also consulted with additional groups, churches, institutions, and individuals with the goal of formulating a proposed approach for Christ Church to adopt in defining and initiating our vital work of dismantling systemic racism. Dismantling racism takes intentionality and perseverance. It is a life-long, sometimes messy process but is so critical as we seek to live more deeply into our Baptismal call and ministry: to respect the dignity of all people. Our hope is that this journey will be deeply compelling and transformative to us as individuals and communally as a congregation: that we will become a church even more infused with love than we are now.
We are so grateful to you, the many members of Christ Church, who have expressed interest in participating with us in this most important work, and we look forward to engaging with you as we move forward.
Keynote Speakers: Christ Church is offering a series of keynote speeches in the fall and spring (via Zoom) that speak to the importance of the work of dismantling racism. We will also explore Christ Church’s own history around race, tracing back nearly 200 years. Contact: The Rev. Mary Davila.
Civic Engagement and Advocacy: This is a two-part initiative, one with a specific timeframe, and one that is ongoing.
“It is a Christian obligation to vote, and more than that, it is the church’s responsibility to help get souls to the polls.” -Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
Given our Presiding Bishop’s charge, the committee of Agnes Stevens, Doug Holbrook, and Jane Forde have been working to 1) provide the Christ Church community with accurate and concise non-partisan information about voting in the Nov. 3 election and 2) encourage Christ Church to engage with the community by voting. You can view non-partisan election resources here (link).
Second, the committee is recommending further exploration of a potential partnership between Christ Church and residents of the Rochester Heights neighborhoods and St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, as the proposed Downtown South project progresses. Contact: The Rev. Mary Davila.
Small Diverse Groups through the Encouraging Place: How do we communicate, listen, and engage in these tumultuous times when emotions run high? How do we bridge the racial divide? Reggie Edwards, through her Raleigh-based ministry The Encouraging Place, believes it is through one small group at a time. Reggie brings people together and invites them to talk – to meet at the table of racial reconciliation. These small groups gather monthly and provide open and safe spaces where honest conversations take place, where we call each other to more truth and love, and where we work side by side to share and grow. The first of these small groups has formed and is starting in October. If interested in participating in a group, please email Kim Shirley. As people express interest, future groups will start gathering on a rolling basis. Contact: Kim Shirley – email@example.com.
The Inner Journey – A Vital Balance to our Work in the World: The work of dismantling racism can feel overwhelming, and we can quickly become disheartened by the thought that we are not making sustained progress, or that we are unsure about our own path to contribute to this effort. What inner, spiritual tools can we cultivate to help us navigate this uncertain terrain and give us the life-sustaining fuel to begin and to continue the journey? Participants in this group will explore well-established practices of this inner journey, focusing initially upon a pivotal book, The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness, by Rhonda Magee. We will soon announce our start date on the Christ Church website. If you are interested in participating or have questions, please email Stannie Brewer or Martha Mason. Contacts: Stannie Brewer – firstname.lastname@example.org – and Martha Mason – email@example.com.
Racial Equity Institute Anti-Racism Trainings: On Jan. 22 and 23, Christ Church will offer its first Racial Equity Institute (REI) workshop. REI is a well-established organization that has heightened the awareness of thousands to the root causes of racial injustices reflected in American culture and institutions and has helped to formulate a common analysis and language for us to begin the most difficult but positive conversations and work towards lasting social transformation and racial justice. Contact: Steven Sartorio – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resource Materials: Resource materials are presented as a select collection of books, films, videos, podcasts, and documents that provide multiple opportunities to learn – in a methodical and in-depth way – about the origins, long-term history, and ongoing impacts of systemic racism in America. In spite of these hard realities of our past and present, hope for a better future permeates much of these materials as we are all called to action: to implement real and lasting solutions to the problems of racial injustice in our communities and our country. Contact: Charlotte Wooten – email@example.com.
You can access the Task Force’s resource materials using this link (PDF).
Dismantling Racism Task Force