Recently the Pacific Northwest Conference UCC’s Dismantling Racism Task Force sent out an article entitled Welcoming our Black Brown Indigenous Asian and Pacific Islanders (BBIAPI) pastors and BBIAPI guest speakers to our predominantly white churches. It opens by stating,
“Our BBIAPI pastors have made it known that until churches are deeply committed to working towards worship through an anti-racist lens these invitations are not welcoming. We know that this work is never-ending, it is a life-long journey, and we will make mistakes along the way.”
The article then invites congregations to reflect on particular questions around racial justice and hospitality. The action team working on the Calvin Grant that is holding the invitation to BBIAPI preachers this fall used this article to continue the work at UCUCC. We also shared it with our Racial Justice Activists team. We share it here because this work of welcome and justice does not live within specific committees, but is a task of the entire congregation. These are the questions posed in the article:
- What inspired your community to make a request for a BBIAPI pastor or guest?
- What does your church hope to gain from a cross-cultural leadership experience?
- Has your congregation committed to anti-racism, both as individuals and as a congregation? What are some of the ways?
- Has your congregation done anti-racism training to support your work of critically reflecting on your cultural privilege as a dominant culture church?
- What steps can your congregation take to ensure the physical, emotional, and spiritual safety and well-being before, during, and after the requested visit by a BBIAPI pastor or guest?
- Have you completed a Racial Audit? A race audit is an information-gathering step that may inform real action steps that have the potential to change practices and behavior
- Have you developed relationships inside and outside your church that respond to the realities of anti-Blackness and the work of anti-racism work you are committed to?
- Are you financially compensating the pastor fairly for the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual work that this interaction will require?
As our committee reflected on these questions there are clear signs of work we have done at UCUCC. We know some of the intention in our guest preacher invitations: during Pastor Amy’s sabbatical we committed to intentionally ask what it means to center the leadership of Pastors of Color as a way of holding space and welcoming back her leadership as a Black Woman in our congregation. We have committed to anti-racism as individuals and as a congregation: our congregational resolution in 2019 was a visible reflection of our church’s longstanding commitment to this work and the ongoing ways in which we live into this resolution continue to shape us. We have done both anti-racism trainings and cross-cultural trainings (like the Intercultural Development Inventory). We have developed relationships inside and beyond the church that help us respond to anti-Blackness. We are compensating our BBIAPI preachers at a rate above our typical guest preacher honorariums.
We also reflect on the work we are still called to do. Our council intention of having every ministry lead participate in the IDI process is still un-realized. There is still more we can do to take care of physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of our preachers. The congregational commitment to racial justice is being met with individuals feeling like this work is somehow different from spiritual formation and care. Our multiracial relationships require deepening and ongoing development.
As a committee, we are grateful for the work of the conference to offer these reflection pieces. As we continue to move through our fall worship series around Ubuntu we continue to experience a widening of God’s circle. As we recognize our congregational interdependence with BBIAPI leadership we will continue to be shaped in community and by the Holy Spirit.
— The Calvin Grant Action Team: Rachel Haxtema, Terry Moore, Jessie McAbee, Lisa Coleman, John Worthington, Pastor Steve Jerbi