Water in Itonya
This week's story comes from Saint Paul Partners, a BKB affiliate, and their current volunteer in Iri[...]
In the beginning of 2017, the Saint Paul Area Synod distributed 11 micro-grants to congregations wishing to pursue a renewal opportunity. Congregations dreamed up ways to renew themselves that included community outreach, worship renewal, and engaging congregants in challenging conversations. Stories of Renewal is a blog series about what these 11 congregations have been doing with their micro-grants.
In the summer of 2015, several members of Shepherd of the Valley expressed that they were deeply troubled by current events, as police shootings were drawing media attention and Black Lives Matter was gaining publicity. “What should we do?” was the question on many hearts and minds. How do people of faith respond to racial injustice? More specifically, how does a congregation that is mostly white respond to the pain of our black and brown brothers and sisters? And, perhaps the most poignant question of all, “Why ARE we mostly white, anyway?”
These questions have formed the backbone of a movement that has taken hold at Shepherd of the Valley since the fall of 2015. As a team of staff and lay people, we have taken on a mission to educate and equip people in our congregation about issues of race and racial injustice in order to empower them to be ministers of racial reconciliation and healing in their own spheres of influence. Education and relationships with people of color have been the building blocks of this work of congregational renewal.
This year, we received a micro-grant from the Saint Paul Area Synod to help fund our racial justice initiatives. Our activities have included Bible study, movie nights, book clubs, outside speakers, visits to an African Methodist Episcopal church, and other field trips to push us out of our comfort zone and expand our multicultural awareness. Most importantly, we have held candid conversations about racism and the role of white privilege in oppressing our neighbors. These conversations and initiatives are just the beginning of what will be a long journey at Shepherd of the Valley and in our community towards racial justice and healing. We are grateful to the Saint Paul Area Synod for its support for our work of congregational renewal.
The Rev. Wendy Steger
Shepherd of the Valley, Apple Valley