Thursday, March 31, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
- Emmaus Ministries: Conversation with Al Tauber and Jonathan Hancock from Emmaus Ministries. Emmaus’ mission and purpose is to make Jesus known on the streets among men involved in sexual exploitation and provide hope in Christ by developing ministries of evangelization, transformation, and education. (streets.org)
- Sunshine Gospel Ministries: Tour and dialogue with Joel Hamernick, Executive Director. Sunshine’s mission is to seek renewal in the city through ministries of discipleship, mercy, and justice. Sunshine does this through building relationships, teaching and mentoring, developing life skills, care and advocacy in the community. (sunshinegospel.org)
- Canaan Community Church: Conversation with Pastor Jonathan Brooks, who is leading Canaan into deeper levels of understanding and practicing the philosophy of Christian Community Development. “Pastah J” is a present member of CCDA’s Emerging Leader Cohort and a speaker at our CCDA National Conferences. (canaancommunitychurch.org)
- Pui Tak Center: Tour and dialogue with David Wu, Executive Director. Pui Tak is a church-based community. Each year, they serve over 3000 Chinese immigrants through ESL classes and tutoring for adults, children and youth programs, services for new immigrants, family literacy, school, a music program, computer center and outreach programs. (puitak.org)
- The Marin Foundation: Conversation with Andrew Marin, President and Founder. The Marin Foundation is the very first organization that works to build a bridge between the religious and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in a non-threatening, research and biblically-oriented fashion. Their unique approach is one that strategically reaches out and partners with both religious and LGBT organizations -- working closely with each to make a sustainable, structural difference for the Kingdom in today’s socially driven secular and religious cultures. Andrew is a former member of CCDA’s Emerging Leaders Cohort and a speaker at our CCDA National Conferences. (themarinfoundation.org)
- South Loop Community Church: Conversation with the pastors of our host church, Tom Kubiak, Jalon Chan, and Mark Lockett. SLCC has been a part of the South Loop community for 10 years with a mission to be used of God in helping people become fully functioning followers of Christ. (southloopcc.org)
- La Villita Community Church: Tour and dialogue with Pastor Victor Rodriguez. Established in the neighborhood of Little Village on Chicago's West Side, La Villita Community Church is committed to the neighborhood and it’s inhabitants. Providing an array of programs that help the community's youth, some of which are tutoring and sports, LVCC's vision and mission is to be a church that Praises, Loves, Teaches, and Shares. (lavillitacommunitychurch.com)
- Breakthrough Urban Ministries: Tour and dialogue with Arloa Sutter, Founder and Executive Director. Breakthrough Urban Ministries demonstrates the compassion of Christ by partnering with those affected by poverty to build connections, develop skills and open doors of opportunity. Located in Chicago's East Garfield Park, where disinvestment has left the neighborhood devoid of opportunity and full of broken dreams, Breakthrough Urban Ministries is restoring the broken networks of youth and families and empowering adults in the community to achieve self-sufficiency and break the cycle of poverty. (breakthrough.org)
Monday, March 28, 2011
This important book has been the focus of the Cedar Valley Community book discussion over the past several weeks sponsored by Cedar Valley Citizens for Undoing Racism in partnership with a number of other local organizations.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Not only did this group offer gestures of care and compassion through their knitting, but they also formed a beautiful intergenerational fellowship that spanned a good 70 years of age. Due to some changes in the Sunday morning church schedule and the changing seasons of the leaders' lives, the Sunday morning knitting group is disbanding. But, oh, what a blessing they've been! And I am sure that the friendships and the knitting will carry on. Beautiful!!!
Monday, March 7, 2011
I'm meeting tonight with our partnership team and just spent some time reading through the covenant that we formed together in the fall. How greatly inspired I am as I read through this covenant!
Harvest Vineyard Church and Orchard Hill Church Partnership
Called together to be a Kingdom community who will link lives and gifts to follow the Spirit of God for the glory of God and the wholistic development of people and places through the love of Jesus Christ.
Partnership Core Values
1. Spirit of God. We value listening, discerning, and obeying the Spirit of God as He moves and directs our partnership. We believe that it is only through the Spirit's leadership, grace, and power, that we will accomplish the mission God has for this partnership. We believe that the Holy Spirit reveals God's will and directs us through His Word, prayer, His people, and through circumstances.
2. Reconciliation. We believe that through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, people can be reconciled to God and reconciled to one another. We value that this partnership crosses lines of denomination, gender, age, race, class, and culture and results in people who recognize one another as created in the image of God with equal value and worth in the eyes of God. We value respect for our differences and believe we can learn from them as well as celebrate our common bonds in Christ.
3. Christian Community. We value the loving relationships that develop as God binds person by person together in this partnership. We value the friendships, the gifts, the encouragement, the honesty, the reciprocity, the accountability, and the growth that is present in authentic Christian community. We believe that we must lead with these relationships and not lead with resources in this partnership.
4. Mutuality. We value interdependency in the partnership. We believe that each person and each church has gifts and resources that can be offered as well as needs to be addressed. Together we can share and help one another grow and develop in Christ. We believe that a partnership should be roughly balanced with a shared experience of giving and receiving by both partners.
5. Mission of compassion and justice. We value God's heart for his suffering people, and we believe that He calls us to hands-on compassion and sends us into the darkness to be his salt and light and healing presence. We believe we are called to cooperate with Christ to bear witness to his kingdom of righteousness and justice on the earth.
6. Wholistic development. We value addressing the needs of a whole person...spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental. We believe Christ came to redeem our whole selves. We value making disciples who know their identity and calling in Christ. We value working together to empower each individual toward their God-planned potential. We value training up and releasing leaders. We also believe that Christ came to redeem systems and places as well as individuals, so together we value partnering with Christ and one another for wholistic community transformation.
1. Practice prayer How will we pray with and for one another this year?
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Thursday, March 3, 2011
I am in a discussion group over the book The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. We met this week, and one of the facilitators spoke during our discussion about how difficult it was for him to believe that so much about institutional racism that we're learning about in the book could really be “aha” moments for so many people in the room. He questioned whether he lived in a different reality since racism is so blatant and so obvious to him everyday. I have several thoughts that have stirred from his sharing, and I’ve tried to unpack this question of myself, “What has kept my head in the sand?” Lots of answers surface when I ask that question and consider both my life and many like me who I have grown up with and lived around…
*Upbringing. Systemic, institutional racism is very pervasive and effective. I, like many other white, middle class Americans, went to school and swallowed the textbook history we were taught from a young age. Media has also played a large part in reinforcing stereotypes and racism. And living so separate from others of color didn't help me come to know or spend time with many who were different than me. Someone else spoke last night in saying that they were taught from a young age to blindly trust institutions such as church, criminal justice system, educational system, etc. That was also my upbringing.
*Our experience. Mahdi, one of the instructors at Undoing Racism, talked about racism being like the water surrounding a fish…or I might add…the air that humans breathe. We don’t think about it much unless it’s tough to catch our breath (like high altitude) or we breathe bad air. Another example might be our human bodies. When my back is working fine for me, I don’t give it a thought. But when it is off kilter and in pain, I can’t stop thinking about it. I imagine that these might describe the different realities that people of color and whites live in.
*Definitions and thought processes. My understanding of the definition of racism keeps evolving. When I was younger, I believed that racism meant racial prejudice or bigotry. I considered it mostly in an individual mindset. Further on the journey, I thought about racism as being related to slavery. I considered slavery and I thought about how even though the Civil Rights Movement began to win rights for the African-American, there were many lasting hardships as a result of slavery. I believed that the breaking apart of families, emasculating black males, the oppression and crushing of the mind, body, and spirit, the lack of freedom, lack of education, lack of opportunity for employment and advancement, not being granted human rights, etc.. all resulted in high levels of poverty and long term negative effects for the African-American community. Much like the analogy used by Mahdi in Undoing Racism that it’s like telling a class they’re going to play Monopoly. You give one half the class 2 hours to play before you let the other half join in. The second half is then trying to play catch up and is starting at such a disadvantage and deficit. This is how I thought about racism during this stage in the journey. It disturbed me, and I considered how I might get involved in relationships that might be helpful or healing.
My journey continued as I served at House of Hope and in other environments of need. As I served, some of my assumptions were challenged, I learned personal stories of people, came to know people of color, observed obstacles, trappings, injustices, and I even saw how my understanding of “helping” was, in fact, often perpetuating the problem. My interest turned at this point to learn about wholistic approach, empowerment, development vs. charity, asset-based community development, listening to the community, indigenous leadership development, and racial-reconciliation.
And not until just recently, did I begin to look intently at institutional racism and seek to understand it more in depth. Until reading this book, I would never have considered the high numbers of African-Americans incarcerated to be the result of a racist system actively at work today. I had never considered that black communities are often targeted and that blacks/whites use drugs at similar rates. My mind has been socially conditioned to justify illegal behavior of my teenage social experience and to criminalize that of others of a different race…particularly black males… and those from a lower socio-economic status. The high numbers of people being locked up who fit these descriptions have only served to reinforce my bias.
*Sinful nature. I can’t ignore our sinful human nature when I consider why we consciously or unconsciously have blinders on most of the time. In our sin, there’s blame, shame, fear, pride, greed, selfishness, hiding. We compete and compare. In our human nature, we set up value hierarchies. We try to gain power and control. We bite the hook and buy into lies all the time that abundant life and freedom are found in things, status, approval, wealth. All of Scripture points out the problem of our sinful nature, points us to a God who is about righteousness and justice, and introduces us to a Savior who can restore and reconcile us.
*Addictions. It’s really no surprise to me that so many live unaware or with blinders on. Scripture says, “Wake up, O Sleeper.” And we’re not just asleep in regards to racism. We live much of our lives in bondage to our addictions. Money, status, approval, comfort, sex, food, etc. become idols for us. In our addictions, we live in denial. We justify. We might know that something is wrong, and we might even intellectually be able to admit it, but changing is another story. First, we have to want to stop the addiction, but the addiction itself keeps us from wanting to. Then, once we desire to be free, we have to fight very hard, very “daily” for the change. We have to fight to stop the behavior, to rewire our brains, have a plan to live differently, discipline ourselves, have accountability, etc. We often give up and take the path of least resistance. And when the addiction is a cultural norm, it’s even more difficult to name it and fight it. Comfort, materialism, ease, power….all addictions/idolatry that fuel racism. In our human nature, people think of their addiction as something that frees them..that’s the nature of addiction… but in fact, addictions, or idols, enslave us and damage relationships. This is true as we consider racism.
*Status Quo. I know I've had my head in the sand because any listening, learning, acting outside of the “boxes” of the norm, might make me suspect to being too different. I don't think I'm alone. People like to be accepted. People don’t want to be rejected. Not many people “rock the boat” or risk going out on the limb to live differently. Herd mentality. Many Americans go to work, manage their houses and stuff, raise their kids, watch television, fill their schedules with sports and activity, and live on autopilot for the most part. I’m not sure the majority of people challenge the process or live very deeply, reflectively, or intentionally.
*Individualism. We are an individualistic culture. We tend to say, “I don’t have a problem with race.” Or “I have black friends.” We talk about personal responsibility, personal morals, etc. We can’t see racism from a systemic lens. I know that has been true of me most of my life. Not only that, our individualistic think keeps me from living for the good of the whole. It’s more about doing my part right where I am for me and my family. Seeking security, safety, comfort, progress, happiness for me and mine. Individualism keeps us from seeing the whole, caring about the whole community, or living outside of ourselves in a larger story.
*Overwhelmed. There are some pretty big giants in our world to fight. Racism, global poverty, world hunger, HIV/AIDS, Children soldiers, sex slave trade, environmental concerns, wars raging, natural disasters, economic crises, to name a few. People often feel overwhelmed and paralyzed because they feel the problems are too big. Besides, many people are overwhelmed right in their own daily lives with broken or strained marriages and relationships, debt and financial strain, raising children, health issues, managing schedules, work, etc... The battles on the homefront often zap the motivation and vision to look beyond home to issues that seem rather unrelated to their lives.
*Separateness. Our separateness is a big issue. We’re often encouraged to be a generous and kind family member, a good neighbor, co-worker, classmate. We’re told to “lead where we are” or to serve and be on mission right where we find ourselves in a day. The trouble is, we have set up our lives to be so separate from one another, that my serving and loving at school, work, neighborhood, church, etc… involves people who look and live an awful lot like me. Are there needs in these places? Loads. Lots of broken hearts and lives everywhere we go. But, with this reality, we won’t find ourselves naturally coming together with many people who are different than us. Most of us will need to intentionally come together with people of other races in order to build relationships and seek racial reconciliation.
For these reasons (and I'm sure others), our society stays largely stuck in matters of injustice such as racism. I'd love some of your thoughts if you're willing to share.