Call to Confession: Week 4

Call to Confession: Race, White Privilege, and the Church

Photo Credit: David Wigger

Photo Credit: David Wigger

Week 4

unknown-female carouselZapatito Blanco: Acknowledging Old Rules and Agreeing to New Ones, Anonymous

A couple of weeks ago, I was supervising a children’s program at the community center where I work – a biweekly gathering of elementary school children who explore art, science, and math before playing together. Meanwhile, their parents are in ESL classes. It was late in the evening, and my colleagues and I were cleaning up the glitter, paint, paper from our last activity while the children gathered themselves to play Hide and Seek. To pick the person who would be ‘it’, the children each put a foot into the circle. One child pointed to a foot on each word as they all sang. Continue Reading

Brian Diebold PhotoWaving Palm Branches: Race, White Privilege, and the White Church, Rev. Brian Diebold

‘Providential’ was the word everybody kept using. Two things happened simultaneously, and in retrospect they do seem to be guided by the hand of God. The members of the East Liberty Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh sent out an invitation to neighboring congregations to participate together in a visit to the “RACE” exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. At the same time, the members of the Verona Presbyterian Church, where I serve, sent out an invitation to Sera Chung, Associate for Gender & Racial Justice at the Presbyterian Mission Agency, to come and work with us for a weekend on our own issues around race and privilege. Continue Reading

Denise Anderson CarouselWhat About the White Folks?, Rev. T. Denise Anderson

United Methodist Commission on Race. Black Ministries and Latino/Hispanic Ministries – The Episcopal Church. Council for Racial and Ethnic Ministries (COREM) – United Church of Christ. Ethnic Specific and Multicultural Ministries – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries – Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). These are a few examples of entities in American mainline denominations that are dedicated to minority witness and interests. These various names and entities communicate one thing clearly: in American mainline denominations, whiteness is centered. Continue Reading

Stephanie Quintana CarouselCalled to be Angry: White Supremacy and the Church, Stephanie Quintana-Martinez

Last week, I once again found myself protesting in the streets of Chicago. Showing up to a demonstration organized by activists of color, I joined them chanting: “White Supremacy is the enemy. Shut it down! Shut it down!” As I pronounced every word, I felt a liberating sense of relief. “White Supremacy is the enemy. Shut it down! Shut it down!” The words echoed loudly along the street as they filled the air with the refreshing smell of truth. “White Supremacy is the enemy. Shut it down! Shut it down!” Continue Reading

Randal Jelks HeadshotWaters of Babylon: To Be an African-American PresbyterianRev. Dr. Randal M. Jelks

I have this vivid memory of the uncertainty I felt sitting in First Presbyterian Church of Chicago at a Presbytery meeting before making my candidacy statement for ministry some twelve years ago. We were sitting in this neo-Gothic structure, a relic from the church’s past glory, a solitary old building amid urban blight, hosting elders and pastors who frankly looked much more concerned about the safety of their vehicles than about the agenda of the meeting. And here I was, an African-American man from a southern, working-class family only one step from poverty, in this church located in a poor African-American community, seeking to come under the care of a Presbytery that represented a denomination whose membership was 98 percent white middle to upper middle class. Continue Reading

Kyremes-Park CarouselIt’s Not Too Late to Start the Conversation, Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks

If there was an official ‘Presby-nerd card’ I would be issued one in a heartbeat. A third generation child of the church, now a servant of the church in professional ministry, I have been involved in more planning teams, gatherings, and committees than I can count most days. I really love the church. Because of this love I have spent the majority of my life thus far doing what I can to build up the PC(USA) in whatever way God allows. This dedication has been an investment for my whole family who have sacrificed time with me in order for me to be a part of this work. I say this because I want you to know I enter the conversation as one who is dedicated to the survival of the church. I am also one who believes that all of us are going to have to make sacrifices in order to make sure the church survives. I do not take the call to serve lightly. I love the church, but I am troubled. Continue Reading

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