What does it mean for a congregation — particularly a predominantly white congregation — to participate in the work of racial justice?

In this week’s Weekly, we begin with the stories of three congregations that are excavating their pasts and finding ways to atone for their congregational complicity in systems of racial injustice. Then, AME pastor William H. Lamar IV challenges congregational leaders that sentiment and sympathy are insufficient to change societal forces of oppression; he calls for a deeper engagement from congregations in the work of dismantling racism. Velda Love, the UCC’s minister for racial justice, reflects that, in her experience, people want to be a part of conversations about race, equity and justice. Finally, Kylon Middleton reminds us that joining in the pursuit of racial justice is exhausting but ongoing, vital work.

Welcome to the Weekly. 

400 years of tears

“400 years of tears” — how three congregations are beginning to atone for the past

If there is a single lesson to take from the stories of these three congregations, it may be that congregations that are committed to sharing in the work of racial justice in the present and the future first have to face their pasts.

Resources for leaders during the pandemic

Sentiment isn’t enough to combat oppression

Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, DC, was vandalized by white supremacists in December 2020. Here, its pastor reflects on the outpouring of support the congregation has received since, challenging all of us to do more than send cards.

People want to be a part of conversations on race and equity

People want to be a part of the conversation about race and equity

“People want to be engaged in the conversation. They want to be part of activism. They just sometimes don’t know where and when to start, or how to, and so our job is to assist them with their journey.” So says the United Church of Christ’s minister for racial justice in this interview with our colleagues at Faith & Leadership.

Moving the needle of racial justice is exhausting, vital and ongoing work

Moving the needle of racial justice is exhausting, vital and ongoing work

Five years after the shooting at Charleston’s Mother Emanuel, Kylon Middleton reflected on the way that event shaped his life, a city and the nation.

From the Alban Library

Greenhouses of Hope: Congregations Growing Young Leaders Who Will Change the World

edited by Dorie Grinenko Baker

Greenhouses of Hope: Congregations Growing Young Leaders who will Change the World

A “Greenhouse of Hope” is a Christian congregation freeing itself to experiment with both newly imagined and time-honored ways of following the path of Jesus. Its members respond to God’s love through practices that genuinely embrace the gifts of youth and young adults. Out of these greenhouses emerge young leaders who want to change the world.

In Greenhouses of Hope, Dori Baker and six contributors tell stories of remarkable congregations, helping others think about how they can create space for the dreams of young people to be grafted into God’s dreams for the world.

Before you go…

The poet David Whyte writes that there are “questions that have no right to go away.” They are the questions that challenge us, call to us and change us.

For people of faith, as this moment in history has made clear, “how am I engaged in the work of racial justice” is one of those questions. My hope is that this week’s contributors inspire all of us to keep asking while pursuing new and better answers.

We’ll see you next week, and in the meantime, peace! 

Nathan Kirkpatrick

Managing Director, Alban at Duke Divinity

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