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November 10, 2015

Advocacy Center Convenes Conversation on Race

On October 23, 2015, a diverse group of thirty-six invited guests participated in a conversation on Disciples and Racism in the United States. The conversation, hosted by National City Christian Church, was organized convened, and facilitated by the Disciples Center for Public Witness.

The conversation began with a theological reflection on Matthew 15:21-28 (The Story of the Syrophoenician Woman) by Dr. Bill Lee, Senior Pastor of Loudon Avenue Christian Church in Roanoke, VA. The theme of this reflection, which became the framework for the conversion, was "Do You See Me?" According to Dr. Lee, "Before Black lives can matter, Black people must be seen."

One-on-one conversations then took place, conversations in which partners from different races and ethnicities discussed how this reality of seeing and not seeing people of color affected their lives, relationships, and views of the world. This was followed by presentations and table discussions about the relationships between really seeing each other and structures of accountability that might allow and encourage this to happen more often.

"In my view, this was a remarkable event," said Dr Alvin Jackson, Senior Pastor of Park Avenue Christian Church in New York and Co-President of the Center's Board of Governors. "People seemed to open up with each other about some of the dynamics of racism and began to think together about ways for us to be more accountable to each other in our efforts to eradicate racism in both church and society."

Next steps include: (1) continuing this particular conversation online through social media; (2) promoting this or similar conversations in other contexts; and (3) formation of a group or groups to put more thought into the issues of accountability related to seeing, especially from the perspective of Black Lives Matter.

The text of Dr. Lee's presentation will soon be available here.

To view a sermon on this theme by Dr. Alvin Jackson, please click here.

Pictured right to left: Dr. Jack Sullivan, President of Disciples Justice Action Network; Dr. Timothy James, Associate General Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Dr. Alvin Jackson, Senior Pastor of Park Avenue Christian Church in New York and Co-President of the Disciples Center for Public Witness; Dr. William Lee, Senior Pastor of Loudon Avenue Christian Church in Roanoke, VA; and Dr. Ken Brooker Langston, Executive Director of the Disciples Center for Public Witness and Director of Disciples Justice Action Network.

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