Exploring Issues of Faith & Race

The Faith & Race Group

This Month

THE UNFINISHED CHURCH is a new podcast created by the UMC and hosted by our own  Bishop LaTrelle Easterling and episcopal colleagues, Mike McKee, and Gregory Palmer. The podcast  features conversations with well-known activists, authors, preachers and teachers about what it means to love our neighbors in the ways Christ has called us to love particularly across racial divides. This week’s first episode featured a conversation with the ever-engaging and thoughtful, Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, boundary-breaking Lutheran pastor and author.

The show has already touched the hearts and souls of several leading pastors in the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Here’s what some of them are saying: 
“This is an incredible opportunity to learn, be challenged and grow in the spiritual discipline of bridging the racial divide amongst us — in a world demanding unity in the midst of diversity, but not knowing how to achieve it.” – Rev. Joseph Daniels, Emory Fellowship, Washington, D.C.

 “The Unfinished Church is a breath of fresh air — smart, engaging, faithful conversations that give me hope for the Church’s future.” — Rev. Mandy Sayers, Glen Mar UMC in Ellicott City 

 “Refreshingly transparent conversations on racial justice and the church that have the potential to transform our ministries and Christian witness.” — Rev. Dr. Ianther Mills, Asbury UMC in Washington, D.C.

JUNETEENTH: You’re invited to join us for a conversation about the story behind Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the end of slavery on June 19, 1865 which will be observed in our county school system for the first time this year. We’ll also be talking about some upcoming field trips to the Harriet Tubman museum on the Eastern shore and sites in Annapolis and throughout Anne Arundel county. Join us in person in the Parlor on Tuesday, May 24 at 7pm or you can also be part of the discussion online via Zoom. For more information about the group, contact ron@severnaparkumc.org

Who We Are

It is more important than ever that people in the church and our nation confront the hard realities of racial injustice, repent of our own attitudes and actions of prejudice and witness to a vision of God’s Kin-dom where we treat one another as beloved brothers and sisters.

For the last five plus years, SPUMC’s Faith & Race Group has been meeting monthly to explore how our core Christian values call us to treat people of all cultures and races with dignity, respect and love. We have been reading some of the best books on the history of racism in our country and the church, the hard realities of what it means to be a person of color in a culture of systemic racism (whether it be South Africa or the US), what it takes to raise children who are anti-racist and other resources that help us understand the intersection between faith and race.

We have also gone to movies together that deal seriously with issues of race (Just Mercy, Harriet) and have other field trips planned to visit historic sites in Annapolis, the African American Museum and the Underground Railroad Museum near Cambridge, MD. Mostly, we have been having honest, heart-searching and heart-breaking conversations about our own attitudes and practices related to race as we seek to become more faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

Our meetings are always open and you are very welcome to join us anytime. We meet on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 7pm. Check out our Events page for Zoom link information to join our online meetings. For more information about the group, contact Rev. Ron.

Books We Have Read Together

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
Blindspot by Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald
The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope by Jon Meacham

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Dear Church: A Love Letter From a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US by Lenny Duncan
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone

News & Resources

Recent Bomb Threats at HBCUs Underscore Need for Change

The more than two dozen bomb threats to Morgan State University, Coppin State University, Howard University and other HBCUs at the beginning of February testify to the sad fact that hate and white supremacist ideology are still far too prevalent in our society. As we mark Black History month, a celebration of how the courageous and resilient contributions of Black individuals, leaders, communities and institutions such as these are both woven into the fabric of who we are and have made us a stronger nation, we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who continue to face such bigotry and racism. As United Methodists, we recognize “the value of each person as a unique child of God and commit ourselves to the healing and wholeness of all persons. We recognize that the sin of racism…continues to cause painful division and marginalization.” We pledge to “work collaboratively to address concerns that threaten the cause of racial justice at all times and in all places.”(From the United Methodist Book of Discipline). https://www.umc.org/…/advocating-for…/racial-justice/

BWC Racial Justice Initiative

The Baltimore Washington Conference is working in multiple ways to help address the issues around racial injustice and reconciliation in our churches and communities. There are several key initiatives underway including the pilot People’s Supper Clubs group, Lenten studies on the Social Principles, a racial justice cohort group, messages from our Bishop LaTrelle Easterling and much more. To learn more about these efforts and to explore a wide range of resources — programs, recommended books, videos, jurisdictional and denominational offerings — visit the We Rise United Racial Justice Page of the Baltimore-Washington Conference website.

Matthew McConaughey, well known actor, sits down with Emmanuel Acho to have an uncomfortable conversation about how we bridge divides and grow as we come to understand and value one another more.

John Lewis: Civil Rights Icon & Saint

In July of 2020, our country lost a great Civil Rights leader and a saint of the church, who in the words of historian Jon Meacham “was willing to suffer and die for his understanding of the Gospel…he was about the Beatitudes.” Watch and hear Meacham’s reflections on Congressman Lewis’s life, the one so many referred to as the “Conscience of the Congress,” and the imprint that he leaves on our nation.

Is America Possible?

Vincent Harding was wise about how the vision of the civil rights movement might speak to 21st-century realities. He reminded us that the movement of the ’50s and ’60s was spiritually as well as politically vigorous; it aspired to a “beloved community,” not merely a tolerant integrated society. He pursued this through patient-yet-passionate cross-cultural, cross-generational relationships. And he posed and lived a question that is freshly in our midst: Is America possible? Listen to his 2011 interview with Krista Tippett. Harding died in 2014.

SPUMC Speaks Out Against Racism

In the spring of 2020, the SPUMC staff put out a video statement in response to the protests about the horrific death of George Floyd that were taking place all over our country. As Christians and leaders of this faith community, we feel compelled to speak because to remain silent is to be complicit with this evil system of racism that continues to infect and affect us all — black and white. All Christians are called to love our neighbors and to work for God’s justice after the example of Jesus and the teaching of the Hebrew prophets. You can view the video here.

Reflecting on Frederick Douglass’ 4th of July Speech

The U.S. celebrated this Independence Day amid nationwide protests and calls for systemic reforms. In this short film, five young descendants of Frederick Douglass read and respond to excerpts of his famous speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” which asks all of us to consider America’s long history of denying equal rights to Black Americans.

Video Resources

Bob the Tomato wants you to care about racism. Back in June, Phil Vischer — creator of “VeggieTales” and voice of Bob the Tomato in the popular Christian animated series — posted a now-viral video called “Race in America” that attempts to answer the question:
“Why are people so angry?”