In July of 2020, the Collister UMC congregation committed to engaging in weekly steps towards self-examination and understanding of bias and white privilege.We also committed to pursuing our call to dismantle systemic racism in our time and place. The following videos and links document this weekly journey. We call it our “Course of Study,” and we invite you to journey with us!
Please watch the following introductory video from Pastor Joe Bankard:
Welcome to Week 1 in our Course of Study on Racial Justice! We welcome you here and are so glad you're on this journey with us!
Week 2:Implicit Bias and an invitation to debrief and process your results
In order to process the information learned through the Implicit Bias Test, a Zoom debrief was held on July 31, 2020.
Every safe space needs some ground rules to ensure that everyone feels welcome and heard, even as we experience discomfort and growing pains.We used these ground rules in our discussions and actions, and recommend them to others who may want to embark on this journey!
Group Guidelines/Rules 1. Don't do this alone: this is a communal work, ideally. You need a conversation partner. 2. Mutual respect for all those participating in the conversation and a shared attitude of seeking to understand. This includes personal remarks towards other participants, staying on topic (avoiding “rabbit trails”), and allowing others to speak without interrupting. 3. Being mindful of not monopolizing discussion, and allowing others to share their questions or process new understandings. 4. Do small groups: otherwise, it can feel like a sermon or lecture rather than true sharing. 5. Build in time for chitchat before any online sessions: if you're like our church, there's lots of small talk we enjoy before every event! 6. Begin and end in prayer.
Individually, we must learn to navigate discomfort. Some questions to ask yourself as you do the work: 1. Pause. There’s no need to respond or say anything right away. Just sit with the uncomfortable sensations and let them settle.
2. Why? Am I feeling hurt, uncomfortable, defensive? Is it because I don’t want to face the reality of this? Is it because I relate to this? Am I complicit in this? Do I benefit from this? etc.
3. Do I still have questions after I’ve processed 1. and 2.? Ask away :)
The Debrief Debrief :-) Our fellow congregant Wendy shares her experiences here:
Week 3:Implicit Bias and steps towards reducing it in our lives
Here we go! This will be a lot of learning and some struggle. Before you view this week's step in our anti-racism journey, please read Luke 24:13-32. Here is Pastor Jenny!
Week 4:Implicit Bias: Our ongoing journey
Please watch this TED Talk from Jennifer Eberhardt:
Week 5: White Supremacy and American Christianity
Dr Drew Hart, author of Trouble I’ve Seen, came to Boise in July 2020. This video recording shares his presentation to clergy and people of faith on the lawn of the Idaho Black History Museum. He tells about the history of American Christianity and racism.
Week 6: History of Racism in the Church and an invitation to debrief
This week, we have a 'debrief' Zoom call again to help us all process what we're learning. Zoom Call
Week 7: The History of Racism in the United Methodist Church I
The United Methodist church has a very rich story of standing against racism and working towards ending it, and of course this story continues to this day! But it's also very important to understand and become aware of our own institutionalized racism, and how our polity and doctrine became entangled in white supremacy. Our anti-racism work continues as we look more closely at our denomination's racist history.
Week 9: The History of Racism in the United Methodist Church III
For the past few weeks, our course of study has led us in a discovery of our American Methodist roots. We started with the story of Rev. Richard Allen and last week reviewed our founder, John Wesley’s, “Thoughts of Slavery.” Now, we invite you to read a commentary by Rev. Ian Straker:
In it, he refers to the recent legislation submitted to the Senate by U.S.. Senator Thomas Cotton, a United Methodist. His proposed legislation that would remove federal funding from schools that use the “1619 Project” as a resource in teaching American history. The 1619 project is a New York Times initiative that looks at our country's history by placing the long-term consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans, at the center of our national narrative. You can find the 1619 Project here: 1619 Project
And so we continue to navigate the complexities that involved the growth of our Methodist denomination, alongside a deeper understanding of the denomination's entanglement within our country’s history, even in the midst of today's voices that seek to minimize the impact of that history.
“A full accounting of the Methodist track record on race reveals that in every era of the church’s life, race has been a source of contention and strife. Senator Cotton’s misleading argument that the nation’s founders understood slavery to be a “necessary evil” would not have swayed Wesley, but it does highlight the importance of accurately and fully knowing, embracing and sharing our history — warts and all. We are living that contested history now, many of us armed with the hope that this time we will get it right: Justice will achieve a lasting victory, racism and its cohort “isms” will be defeated, and United Methodists will lead the world into a vision of Christian peace and love.” - Rev. Ian Straker
Week 10: Final Week of Racism in the United Methodist Church
Our Racial Justice Course of Study takes one more look at our Methodist Denomination’s history on race. This video is an excellent overview of some of the events we’ve covered over the past few weeks. It also allows for deeper understanding of the segregation and systems created during Jim Crow, such as the Central Jurisdiction. (Warning... the video is somewhat dated, but offers excellent perspective to our journey of understanding our roots).
Week 11: Understanding White Privilege
The next section of our course of study focuses on white privilege. For some, this term creates immediate defensiveness and negative emotions. I encourage you to give this section a chance. I strongly believe that many will find it helpful. Part of racial justice is recognizing the privilege that comes from being white. This privilege can be used to dismantle systems of oppression. First, readthis article about white privilege. It will help give an overall definition, data to support the conclusion, and the like. Second, watch this video from Pastor Joe:
Week 12: Understanding White Privilege
This week we continue our exploration and understanding of white privilege. Pastor Joe's video from last week helped us begin to understand the meaning of "white privilege," and an awareness of how this may influence our lives and our future. This week, we have four steps we'd like you to make: 1. Watch this short introductory video by Natalie Campbell, member of our Racial Justice Ministry Team
3. Journal your responses to the following questions:
Have you ever been expected or asked to speak for your race?
How do policies or behaviors protect you or put you in danger?
What patterns do you notice in the 50 statements?
What does the phrase "earned strength, unearned power" mean to you?
What do you think of the phrase "Individual acts can palliate but cannot end these problems"?
4. Click this link: Collister Questions to answer one question about your exploration with white privilege thus far. Your response will be anonymous and all answers will help generate a "wordall" showing our faith community's responses as we journey together. It will be wonderful if everyone can do this step! We look forward to sharing the results next week!
Week 13: Zoom Debrief
Join the Collister Community in a debrief on our journaling and wordwall.
Week 14: White Privilege
This week in our Racial Justice Course of study, our own Christina Smerick, breaks down white privilege and white fragility. Christina is also a Philosophy Professor at NNU, and brings wonderful examples of research and humor to her presentation! Please join us for week 14 of our faith communities journey together.
Mental Health Holiday Toolkit
Holiday Toolkit Whether you join your family in person or over Zoom this year for the holidays, this year has provided more than enough material that has the potential to be divisive. I hope that this toolkit will help you make it through tough conversations, family tension, or stress.
While I hope that you will share what you have learned this year, I do not wish you to put yourself in emotional or physical danger if you have individuals in your life who will treat you poorly if/when difficult topics arise. I aim to provide you ways to have safe and productive talks. This includes learning how to practice active listening, setting boundaries, and conversation scripts that can help you to keep conversations safe for you.
Conversation Tools Basics
Don’t give unsolicited advice
Show genuine interest
Listen to understand rather than to respond
Approach with curiosity
Give the other person the benefit of the doubt
Don’t compromise your beliefs
Pay attention to your emotions. Becoming too worked up will end a conversation before it begins
State the emotions you are feeling “I feel angry and worried right now”
Practice Active Listening
This includes facing your body towards your conversation partner and keeping your eyes on them even if it becomes tense or uncomfortable. If this is not a sign of respect in your culture, disregard this instruction.
Acknowledge and Ask Open Ended Questions
Acknowledging what someone has said can include affirming feelings (“I bet that was hard” or “I would feel like too”) and using body language like nodding or smiling.
Asking open ended questions can help the conversation flow by not asking questions that can be answered with a yes or no.
Reflection helps people feel heard and validated
Some examples of reflection include “So what I am hearing you say is…” “If I am understanding you right, it sounds like…”
And if you do not understand what they are saying, ask for clarification“How did you come to that decision/conclusion?” “Can you tell me more about this?”
Stay on Topic
It can be easy to turn the conversation around to whatever you want or your personal experience, but staying on topic allows a person to say what they need without cutting them off or making them feel like you don’t care about their opinion
If the conversation is unhealthy or dangerous for you, it is okay and good to change the subject if it puts you in emotion or physical danger
Boundary Tools Staying emotionally and physically safe this year includes implementing boundaries. Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships. Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill that everyone can practice to improve their mental health. Setting boundaries and being loving are not mutually exclusive. Setting a boundary helps both parties understand what is appropriate and inappropriate, safe and unsafe. Boundaries might include shutting down toxic or unsafe conversation that does match your values.
“I hear you.”
“You could be right about that.”
The context for this statement is important. Do not let people overstep your boundaries or say things that are hateful.
“I will have to think about your opinions and get back to you.”
“I respect your opinion, but I disagree. Let’s move on to another topic.”
“I am not comfortable having this conversation. If you want to discuss this topic, please do so with someone else.”
“In the future I need to limit the time we debate politics to 20 minutes. I care about you and I would like to keep a positive relationship with you.”
“I need to take a break from this conversation, I feel overwhelmed.”
“If you continue to talk to me that way I will leave.”
“The things you are saying do not feel very loving or kind to me.”
“Because I know that you are a loving person, I hope that you will listen to what I have to say without getting angry.”
Instead of saying “you’re wrong”, try “I disagree with that”
Avoid: “you need to” “you have to” “you should”
Instead of starting a conversation without permission, ask if the topic is okay
“There’s something that I am learning and I want to share it with you. It’s about _____ and I am wondering if you’re okay to talk about it.”
Coping with Stress Sometimes conversations or gatherings can cause anxiety in us. This is a normal response to stress and difficult situations. Here are some stress reduction skills to practice if you begin to feel overwhelmed during the holidays.
Four Square Breathing
Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold breath for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds.
Repeat until you feel that you are in control of your breath
5-4-3-2-1 Sensory Grounding Using the 5-4-3-2-1 technique, you will purposefully take in the details of your surroundings using each of your senses. Strive to notice small details that your mind would usually tune out, such as distant sounds, or the texture of an ordinary object.
What are 5 things you can see?
What are 4 things you can feel?
What are 3 things you can hear?
What are 2 things you can smell? Or like to smell?
What is 1 thing you can taste? Or like to taste?
Take slow deep breaths and think about your favorite things to match each color of the rainbow
Describe each item in detail. Does it have a texture? Can you hold it in your hands? Is it hot or cold? Is there a special memory attached to this object?
Blowing on Soup
Imaginethat you have a big spoon full of soup. It’s too hot so you need to gently blow on the spoon to cool it off. The breath must be steady and gentle enough that it doesn’t blow it off the spoon but so shallow it doesn’t cool it off. You can imagine holding the spoon in front of your face to engage your whole body.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Tense a specific muscle group (e.g. arms and hands) and hold for 5-10 seconds
Release the muscle group and notice how you feel
Work head to toes to better understand how anxiety affects your body
Gratitude and Thankfulness Meditation Before beginning this meditation, find a comfortable place to sit with your feet planted firmly on the ground.Begin by bringing your attention to your breath.
If at any time during this meditation you find yourself distracted, just gently bring your attention back to your breath. Breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Gratitude and thankfulness are practices that we choose to participate in consciously. Take a moment to set an intention for gratitude. Feel appreciation and joy wash over your thoughts. Start by feeling grateful for being alive or being healthy.
Pay attention to the life force that flows in through your nose and out through your lungs and out of your mouth. Oxygen for you, carbon dioxide for the world around you. Take a moment to appreciate what keeps you alive today. The food in your stomach, the air in your lungs, and the blood in your veins.
Now bring to mind an object that you are thankful for today. Whether it is the food on your table or the cellphone in your pocket, consider all the hands that were involved in it’s journey to you. Consider the farmworker who labored for your vegetables or the engineer who designed the microchips in your computer. Allow yourself to feel appreciation and thankfulness.
Next, bring your attention to the people in your life that nourish you. Picture their faces and hear their voices as they speak love to you and bless you with their presence. Consider how they have touched many lives with their kindness and that you exist in an interconnected web of thoughtful and loving human beings.
Start with a person that supported you recently who you do not know. A bus driver, a grocery store employee, or the author of your favorite book. Allow yourself to feel thankful for how they have benefited you. Allow yourself to feel appreciation and gratitude.
Now bring to mind a person you care about and allow yourself to fully experience their loving kindness towards you. Allow yourself to feel how you’ve been blessed by their actions, words, and other gifts. Let yourself express gratitude towards them. Thank them for who they are and for their presence in your life. Imagine them receiving your gratitude.
Finally appreciate the opportunity to pause and breathe deeply. For all that you have brought to mind during this meditation and for all the countless gifts in your life, say thank you.
Allow the sense of gratitude to fill you completely as you breathe in and out. Settling on the breath, right here, right now, fully alive and present in this very moment. Finish with full deep breath in and a long slow breath out. Allow yourself to rest in this moment of gratitude.