I wanted to address the Body of Christ at Aldersgate UMC from church leadership relating to a broader United Methodist movement on race and racism. Below is a link from the Iowa Conference entitled “A Conversation on Race” including a one hour podcast from a June 15th Facebook live event hosted by Bishop Laurie Haller. ”This opportunity for listening comes after the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and stirred protests against police brutality across the country and world.” I encourage you to read, listen to and digest this content.
Organizations small and large are having to address the brutal honesty that systemic racism is a part of our history and our society today. Corporate leadership like the global company I work for are encouraging employees to be open about their experiences on race and racism with the promise to be active listeners and be responsive to workplace concerns. Aldersgate needs to follow this lead and start a conversation amongst our congregation.
The Church as a whole, and Aldersgate UMC as part of the broader church, also needs to listen and engage in conversations around this important topic.
The Mission and Outreach ministry team has put forward a suggested pathway for us to accomplish this. The first recommended step is a Christian study entitled “Deconstructing White Privilege: A Discussion About Race, Racism and Anti-Racism.” I’m a 57 year old white man. I can truthfully state I’ve never felt discrimination towards me due to the color of my skin. It is hard for me to fully understand or walk a mile in the shoes of my brothers and sisters of color without first recognizing this privilege. This is a good conversation starting point. It may be uncomfortable, but it is time to have a conversation.
Growing up in a predominantly white mid-size community in north central Iowa, I’ve been heart-broken to read about the high school baseball player from Charles City who faced ungodly racist language from the host team’s fans at Waverly-Shell Rock. Please educate yourself on this story of a 17 year old African-American student athlete hearing taunts that he should “go back to the fields” and he should have been George Floyd. Below is reporting from the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
A community response that this is just a few rogue individuals is not good enough. We still have a lot of work to do in addressing racist language and behaviors.
As a proud University of Iowa graduate and fan of their sports teams, I’ve been struck by the perceived racist culture of the football program by a large number of former black players. I applaud head coach Kirk Ferentz and the accountability he has embraced to investigate the accounts of criticism including the dismissal of a prominent coach who was the chief recipient of racist complaints. Coach Ferentz has also encouraged former and current players to have open and honest conversations with him, coaches and teammates about race and racism. I want to extend an invitation to you with the same goal.
There will be a survey sent out separately early next week with the opportunity to participate in the Christian study “Deconstructing White Privilege: A Discussion About Race, Racism, And Anti-Racism” with an invitation to register for the best time and dates for you to join the conversation. There will be three options for this remote online class for adults and youth.
Option #1: Sundays at 10:30am-11:30am; July 26 and August 2, 2020
Option #2: Tuesdays at 6:30pm-7:30pm; July 28 and August 4, 2020
Option #3: Thursdays at 2:30pm-3:30pm; July 30 and August 6, 2020
I pray you will come to this important conversation with open ears, open minds and open hearts.
Chairman, Steering Committee