Call to Confession: Week 5

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

Photo Credit: David Wigger

Photo Credit: David Wigger

Week 5

SY CM CarouselDear White Liberals, Rev. Sung Yeon Choi-Morrow

It was a typical muggy August day in Chicago when I pulled up to McCormick Seminary in my U-Haul van, trailed by a car full of college guys – my brother and his friends, who had agreed to help me move into my new seminary housing in exchange for some good Chinese food in Chicago’s Chinatown. I was tired but excited. I stood there in my new home ready to start my adventure as a seminary student. Even more than being excited about seminary in general, I was really looking forward to finally be a part of a mainline, ‘liberal’ Christian community. You see, a few years prior to entering seminary, I had spent 4 years at a fairly conservative evangelical college. Continue Reading

EHH Carousel“This is What Theology Looks Like!”: Participation of Reformed Churches and Clergy in Demonstrations in Ferguson, Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty

The events that have unfolded in Ferguson, Missouri, since 2014 and the churches’ response to them offer a noteworthy example of churches practicing creative resistance. Intertwined and complex dynamics of racism, inequalities in wealth, the chronic instability created by the perpetual impoverishment of individuals and communities, the injustice of the criminal justice system, and creative collaborative resistance are illumined by this case. You have undoubtedly read or seen news regarding the shooting and killing on August 9, 2014, of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African American young man. Brown was staying with his grandmother during the summer and on that day in August walked to a neighborhood convenience mart with a friend. Continue Reading

Gradye CarouselCalling Each Other ‘In’: Racial Justice and the PC(USA), Interview with Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons

I think part of what it means to be Presbyterian has to do with leadership development. It comes out of the way we govern ourselves, out of our understanding we empower people. It’s part of the core of who we are. As a result, if you look at the leadership of many communities, you’ll find a Presbyterian in leadership one way or another. Part of the reason we got to be in leadership has to do with our own whiteness and the power attributed to that, whether we sought that or not. To the extent that we have been in leadership in our communities, we have led those communities to develop in a certain way, and we have to take responsibility for that. Continue Reading

Alonzo Carousel 2“You Look Like a Thug!”: Dog-Whistling and Sin-Talk, Rev. Alonzo Johnson

It happened most recently on a family trip to a museum. This trip was particularly special because the museum had recently accepted my wife’s fiber art piece into one of its shows. I sat outside the gallery on a balcony that overlooked the small theater that was located on its first floor. The balcony was not roomy, but there were a few places to sit, and after walking the entire gallery, sitting in the luxury chair was a welcome reward. Next to me also, finding solace in the luxury chairs, was an older white man. We chatted briefly, mostly about how comfortable the chairs were, before he stood up and declared loudly that he was going to the bathroom but did not want to give up his very comfortable seat. In jest – at least I thought – the man looked at me and said, “Hold my seat, don’t let anybody sit here.” I laughed it off, acknowledging that the very comfortable (albeit very limited) seating was indeed a godsend. However, the mood changed when he said the following: “Well if someone goes to take my seat, I will get you to handle them because you look like you could beat them up.” Continue Reading

Chris Iosso Carousel 2Race Challenges the Lake Woebegone Church: Will the Church Challenge the Woebegone Nation?, Rev. Dr. Chris Iosso

Race is a word that points to massive dividing lines in the US (and elsewhere). Lake Woebegone is a fictional creation of a gifted radio storyteller, Garrison Keillor. Among Keillor’s strengths are his knowledge of the mainline church in small towns and his genuine affection for the folks in whose everyday customs he finds humor. Covered dish suppers with exotic jello salads come to mind. Some musical critics of Keillor suggest that he stretches his vocal range when he joins the singers on his Prairie Home Companion, but I am generally a fan. The analogy I want to pursue is that churches in our many Lake Woebegone communities don’t have the racial range. We are often very aware of this when we try to sing new hymns from different traditions in our hymnals, but the point is that those of us who are white mainliners must stretch our range. If we take those steps, we may be pleasantly surprised to see who and where the Prince fans are, even in the whiter reaches of Minnesota. Continue Reading

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