In February, twenty-seven people from across our diocese–including both clergy and lay people–committed to an intensive learning journey to form a community of practice around Becoming Beloved Community.
On April 6, this group again gathered at Procter for a full day of dialogue, relationship building, and visioning around how we might live into our call to follow Jesus and Become.
The day began with a reflection on Howard Thurman’s questioning in Jesus and the Disinherited:
“Why is it that Christianity seems impotent to deal radically, and therefore effectively, with the issues of discrimination and injustice on the basis of race, religion and national origin? Is this impotency due to a betrayal of the genius of religion, or is it due to a basic weakness in the religion itself? The question is searching, for the dramatic demonstration of the impotency of Christianity in dealing with the issue is underscored by its apparent inability to cope with it within its own fellowship.” (Thurman, 1949, pp. 7-8)
The group then shared both personal and congregational gifts to contribute to this work and shared these in regional teams to support efforts to connect and partner. These gifts and assets will serve as catalysts as the group practices and moves to action. For example, John Eby of St James, Westwood lifted up his gift in community organizing and political advocacy; Megan Johnson from Church of Our Redeemer, Cincinnati shared that she was inspired by this gift and what this could mean for the work her congregation is engaged in around leveraging their resources to Repair the Breach.
We ended the day by organizing around opportunity areas for action that emerged from interviews with over fifteen individuals back in the fall. These interviews have helped inform efforts to date–including the design of the learning journey–and pointed to what Becoming Beloved Community could mean for thediocese. Opportunity areas included “moving beyond charity” to “addressing whiteness” to “sustainability”. Members expressed a readiness to begin organizing toward a shared goal.
And while there was a readiness to act, one thing is growing increasingly clear: Becoming Beloved Community calls us to a different way of being, together. This is a practice of spiritual formation that requires a level of critical consciousness and intention that invite transformation and new patterns of being–all of which must be done in relationship with one another.