Brenda Salter McNeal says, “Catalytic events [like this one] will either lead us to preservation (of what was) or transformation (of what can be).” This is a catalytic moment in the life of our country. The COVID-19 Pandemic with its subsequent “Sheltering in Place” has fashioned a captive audience with respect to issues of Justice, Racism, and the Church that have again moved to the forefront. God does not want us to miss this moment!
And so, in faithful response, Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church is launching Love is a Verb Groups during the months of September and October. The groups will be facilitated by a trained facilitator and co-facilitator.
Each group will meet four times to explore four conversations: Learning, Listening, Lamenting, and Leaning. The goals of this conversation are simple yet profound:
- Learn more about issues of race and racism, both in society and in the church.
- Listen well to the stories of others, particularly the stories of those with ethnicity different from your own.
- Lament our lack of lament--lament for and with others as well as over their pain.
- Lean into action both as individuals and as a church.
We are hoping and praying that we will have seven groups, some groups meeting socially distanced yet in person, and other groups meeting on ZOOM. We are limiting group size to seven people as we feel that this is just about the right number for these types of conversations and it will ensure proper social distancing for in-person groups.
What do you need to do to get involved?
- Find a time that suits your schedule and type of group (in person or ZOOM) that matches your comfort level. Register here for that group. Please do so by September 13.
- The group facilitator will contact you and let you know about the group’s first meeting. All groups will begin the week of Sunday, September 20.
- Spend a couple of hours completing the pre-work for Week 1.
- Sign the Covenant Commitment and bring it with you to the first meeting (or email it to your facilitator).
As you read, watch, and listen, note the following:
- Where did you say, “AMEN”?
- Where did you find yourself struggling or concerned?
- What did you find confusing?
- What did you find challenging and convicting?
- On the Bible and Race/Racism
- Rewatch Pastor Bart’s sermon and his interview with Pastor Wayne and his daughter, McKyla.
- Read Dr. Tim Keller’s articles on The Bible and Racism. Find the first article here and the second article here. And, for a deep dive, the third article here.
- On the Church and Race/Racism
- On the Country and Systemic Racism
- Print out, Sign, and Bring your Covenant Commitment (or email it to your facilitator).
The facilitator will build the conversation around these three movements:
- The Bible and Race/Racism
- The Church and Race/Racism
- The Country and Systemic Racism
Before you come to the second meeting, please take around 1.5 hours to:
- Watch Dr. Tony Evans’ sermon on Race, Culture, and Class.
- Read I Thought I was Opposing Racism by Scott Sauls.
- Read George Floyd and Me by Shai Linne in the Gospel Coalition.
- Read Bryan Stevenson on the frustration behind the George Floyd Protests in The New Yorker.
- Most importantly: Before you arrive, please spend twenty to thirty minutes sketching out some answers to the questions below.
- Describe your childhood (“growing up”) experience as an eleven year-old. What motto do you recall from your Mother? Father?
- Did race/ethnicity play a role in your upbringing? Why or Why not?
- What particular life stories come to mind as you think about race/ethnicity?
- Describe your church experiences. Did ethnicity/race play a factor in those church experiences? Why or why not?
- For Persons of Color: What do you wish a Christian, white person knew about your experience of race/ethnicity?
Before you come to the third meeting, please take around 1 hour to:
- Watch the The Human Race, a sermon by Andy Stanley.
- Read about Truth Telling in Corporate Lament from an Asian American perspective.
- Watch this short video on the necessity of lament by Soong-Chan Rah.
Familiarize yourself and then complete this lamentation resource. The Psalms offer us beautiful poetry around lamentation. Poetry can take our emotions where prose does not want to go.
Be prepared to talk about and share your lamentation.
Before you come to the fourth meeting, please take around 1.5 hours to:
- Watch Grace, Justice, and Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and Tim Keller.
- Watch this interview with LaTasha Morrison.
Consider what it would look like for you to lean. Spend a few moments contemplating the questions below.
- Bryan Stevenson pursued legal advocacy through his experiences, skills, and passions. These shaped his vocation. Discuss.
- LaTasha Morrison mentioned leveraging your power and empowering others. She mentioned networks, vocations, and institutions. Discuss.
- Take a moment to have each person explore their own skills, passions, experiences, interests, networks, vocation. What is this un-earthing?
- Where might people be feeling “led to lean”?
- Explore the historical mercy and justice work of WCPC. What do we do well? What do we do poorly?
- How might our church do our part to lean well? Appoint a scribe. Make an actionable list, and pass it along to the pastoral leadership.
- Have each person share a “word” and an “action” that they are taking away from these four weeks together.
- Set a date for a fifth meeting (it can be in a few weeks) simply to refine commitment around taking action. Encourage one-on-ones as follow up as well.