THE ANTI-RACISM TASK FORCE
One aspect of the work of the ABCUSA Anti-racism Task Force has been to identify resources. What we have discovered is that ABCUSA has a variety of resources created within the denomination. The American Baptist Policy Statement on Racial Justice (1985) is one of these resource treasures.
The American Baptist Policy Statement on Racial Justice (1985) states, “American Baptists represent the coming together of many racial and ethnic streams within American life and within the life of our world. However, by the very nature of our humanity and the institutional church structures that have emerged, some individuals and churches become privileged over others. Racial justice is recognizing our oneness in Christ, confessing that we have not become what God wants us to be, and committing ourselves to pressing on to that mark of high calling by which we can become a liberating symbol to our nation and world of what it means to be the people of God. In so doing, we can challenge our nation to live up to its high purposes. We can challenge all nations to take seriously the struggle for the freedom and peace of all humankind.”
The paragraph above is a small portion of this policy statement. It is worth dusting off and reading it in its entirety. The link to the full statement is listed at the end of this article.
LEARNING AND UNLEARNING
As the Anti-Racism Task Force shapes and curates, a symposium and collects and records resources, we realize that our greatest challenge will not be the identification of resources but the utilization of these tools in practical, action-oriented ways. Anti-racist work is an opportunity for transformation. It starts with each of us, individually and collectively.
Anti-racism means committing to identifying how racism manifests in social and cultural norms and how to address racism at both the individual and structural levels. In other words, “You have to learn to unlearn some of the things that you understand about a radicalized society and your role in it” (Sith-Maddox, 2021).
Learning and unlearning is an ever-evolving curated catalog of ideas. Therefore, anti-racism calls for the deliberate and intentional commitment to unlearn and learn. Learning is the acquiring of knowledge. Unlearning is not forgetting what we know but stepping back from it to be able to see things differently. The Apostle Paul urges us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT). Unlearning is the process of analyzing and deconstructing the origins of our thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, feelings, and biases.It is the ability and willingness to unlearn that leads to this transformation.
GATHERING: THE BIENNIAL MISSION SUMMIT
The Anti-Racism Task Force is excited to host a virtual booth at the Biennial Mission Summit. It is good for us to come together again, even in this virtual space. We invite you to join us June 21-23 (Monday – Wednesday). We will offer three sessions on three days:
SESSION 1: CALL TO PRAYER: Monday – Wednesday: 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. EDT
- Monday: Naming & Confession
- Tuesday: Lament
- Wednesday: Conciliation/Road Toward Repair & Healing
SESSION 2: CALL TO SELF-UNDERSTANDING AND LISTENING: Monday – Wednesday: 2:00-3:30 p.m. EDT
Radical Transformative Engagement
- Monday: Uncovering the Mystery of God’s Will in a Racialized World
- Tuesday: The historical significance and origin of racism in the building of ABCUSA: Then, Now, Future (Those who do not acknowledge their past are sure to repeat it.)
- Wednesday: The Road to Repair
SESSION 3: LEARNING, UNLEARNING, AND RELEARNING: Monday – Wednesday
- Monday: Echoes of Our Past, Present, and Future: Our Faith and The Work of Anti-Racism (4:30 – 6:00 p.m. EDT)
- Tuesday: It’s My Future You’re Talking About: ABCUSA Youth Conversation (7:00 – 8:30 p.m. EDT)
- Wednesday: Where Do We Go From Here? (4:30 – 6:00 p.m. EDT)
We will see you at the Biennial Mission Summit.
The Anti-Racism Task Force:
Rev. Justin Thornburgh
Rev. Dr. Eugene Downing
Ms. Stephanie Commandest
Rev. Joan C. Friesen
Rev. Dr. Don Ng
Rev. Rodney Lynch
Mr. Ethan Medley
Ms. Sandra Lee
Rev. Dr. Dan Brockway
Rev. Abner Cotto-Bonilla
Rev. Dr. Natalie C. Wimberly