One element of becoming a mature Christian is the practice of unlearning. The hope of the Christian learner is less mastery and more humility. For many Anglicans, this is a pronounced time of hearing a call and feeling a hunger to unlearn the systems of racism and white privilege into which we were born and raised. This is lifelong work, and ultimately joyful because it’s kin-dom work.
A Church Meeting
Begin or end or have a church meeting using these simple meditations and spiritual practices from Canadian Anglican priest, Canon Dawn Davis’ website: Love Letters. Each session offers a brief group process, scripture meditation, discussion questions, and suggestions for follow-up actions. These two sessions from June 2020, which address racism are available to use anytime. The second one is a guest post from the Rev. Canon Cheryl Palmer, a Black Anglican rector from Toronto: https://canondawndavis.wordpress.com/2020/06/
Check out this podcast from St. George's, Maple Ridge with an interview with the Rev. Dr. Tellison Glover, Director of Mission and Ministry for the Diocese of New Westminster. It's so encouraging and helpful to hear local voices speaking directly to our contexts and suggestions for how we can further our work to dismantle racism and work for justice. Small parish groups could listen and then have a discussion. https://stgeorgemapleridge.ca/podcast/
Many small groups throughout the diocese love book studies. Here’s a very brief list of books to consider for your next study. They all have a theological component. There are many excellent books and resources that challenge racism and many lists of them have circulated around social media, like these ones for adults here and here, and this one for kids, but it can be harder to find ones that address the church and faith. Here are just a few possibilities:
Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Church in the US: The author, Rev. Lenny Duncan, a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church (US), shares a compelling story of love and redemption found in the Lutheran church (we are in full communion with the Canadian counterpart). He also finds a link between lack of vitality and the lack of diversity in many of its congregations.
Native: St Mary’s, Kerrisdale is about to begin a study of this book by Kaitlin Curtice, a citizen of the Potawatomi Nation and a Christian. The book weaves poetry, storytelling, and reflection. If your group is interested in identity, belonging, story-telling and soul-searching with God this might be the one to read next.
The Four Vision Quests of Jesus: Steven Charleston, citizen of the Choctaw nation, Anglican bishop, and professor, looks at key moments in Jesus’ life as told in the gospel of Matthew through the lens of the vision quest. It’s a compelling and accessible work with a creative and welcoming vision for the church.
Off the Menu: Asian and Asian North American Women’s Religion and Theology: an academic anthology with a good article addressing Asian-Canadian and First Nations history and relations in British Columbia. A rare, local, scholarly resource that includes practical suggestions for the church. The editors include important theologians such as Kwok Pui-Lan and Rita Nakashima Brock.
Diocesan Dismantling Racism Training
If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to take the diocesan training – Dismantling Racism – stay tuned for the relaunch of workshops as the pandemic recedes. Consider whether your parish may wish to host a workshop. The workshop is facilitated by trained people from the diocese and is free and open to clergy and lay people. The particular emphasis of the training is to raise awareness of how white privilege operates.
Reconciliation Toolkit - Anglican Church of Canada
This is a collection of resources and ideas to learn about the history of indigenous peoples in Canada, the residential schools, and indigenous languages, as well as practical ways to build relationships and practice reconciliation through our parishes. https://www.anglican.ca/tr/reconciliation-toolkit/
Stewardship and Action
Heartfelt study and learning are so important for Christian formation but when combined with our prayer and action it is even more transformative. There are local organizations we can support with our giving. What if book study members committed to giving to one of them? What if a parish collected a second offering?
Reconciliation Canada - https://reconciliationcanada.ca/
Black Lives Matter – Vancouver chapter - https://blacklivesmattervancouver.com/
Migrant Workers Centre - https://mwcbc.ca/
Another possibility for action, in reach of those who need to continue to stay-at-home is to write a personal letter to a local MLA or MP advocating for the end of systemic racialized inequities. Here are some faith-based organizations that can help with wording and requests.
Citizens for Public Justice - https://cpj.ca/