by Mike Kennedy; Senior Warden
Here’s what St. Patrick’s (Dublin, OH) congregation members are saying about how BBC has impacted them:
“It’s a huge blessing for me that we’ve been engaged with BBC for a time because I see it has given me new perspective to respond to the recent protests/riots/looting in a less judging and more grace-filled way.”
“Through our efforts to try to become a beloved community, I have learned and struggled with many issues. Among them are systemic racism in so many forms including red lining to limit home loans and in my blindness to my white privilege. I have also become involved in our ministry to help victims of human trafficking.”
St. Pat’s is located in Dublin, a suburb in Northwest Columbus. We are one of the larger churches in the diocese both in terms of congregation size and budget. We’re predominantly white and affluent. Our BBC journey started in March of 2019 when the vestry committed as part of its yearly planning process to make BBC our focus for the year and invited Dr. Amy Howton to lead an extended BBC visioning session during a day-long Vestry Retreat.
That commitment, extended through 2020, generated a series of BBC-centric events, educational series, and the creation of a new ministry, as follows:
- Freedom a la Cart presentation – in May 2019, Executive Director Paula Haines spoke at an Adult Forum about the catering service. As part of her talk, she introduced the congregation to sex trafficking survivors who told their stories and so broadened our awareness to the pervasive and damaging impact of human trafficking in Columbus.
- CATCH Court Ministry – women of St. Pat’s responded to the Freedom a la Cart experience by starting a vibrant ministry to both volunteer at Freedom a la Cart and provide lunch for the victims of human trafficking participating in CATCH Court.
- Pilgrimages – several single and multi-day journeys were organized and undertaken to expose congregation members of multiple generations to the key sites, history and lessons of the civil rights journey, including visits to see/experience the local underground railroad, local Indian burial grounds, Ohio State Penitentiary, and historic locations in the South.
- The Clergy and a small number of Congregants participated in Diocesan-led BBC events including Convocation in May 2019 and Raising Justice Kids with the Rev. Dr. Jennifer Harvey in October 2019.
- Dialogues on Race – In the late fall of 2019, the clergy devoted a series of 8 weekly adult forum meetings to exploring this book through pre-reading, video, and discussion. Over 50 congregation members signed up, received a copy of the book, and participated in the weekly hour sessions.
- Dialogues on Sex – based on the reception to Dialogues on Race, the clergy devoted a second series of 8 weekly adult forum sessions to this complimentary book with similar structure, participation and positive reception beginning February 2020.
- Emanuel movie –On March 4, 2020, St. Pat’s organized a screening for the Columbus area which included an extended post-viewing Q&A session in the theater and was attended by over 80 viewers representing 10 churches. A Diocesan grant assisted in making this event possible.
- Bishop Curry reconciliation videos – the powerful “Door of Return” video series was shared with the congregation in 2020 in the March, April and May installments via our monthly Breastplate newsletter.
- Our Assistant Rector is a part of the Becoming Beloved Community Learning Journey sponsored by the Diocese.
- Our Youth, who are meeting virtually by Zoom at this time, are utilizing the Way of Love digital resources as a part of their weekly conversations.
- Finally, St. Pat’s provides meals quarterly at St. John’s Town Street and participates in, and occasional hosts, S.A.I.L. (Safe Alliance of Interfaith Leaders) and T.A.S.O. (Turkish American Society of Ohio) meetings.
Opening up to BBC has changed many long-standing activities such as our Prayer Shawl, Food Bank, Friends of the Homeless, Parish Nursing and Daniel Wright School ministries. We now embrace these more powerfully as extensions of our spirit and community through their reach outside the walls of the church.
Here are a few more comments from congregation members based on their experience so far with our efforts to Tell the Truth, Proclaim the Dream and Practice the Way of Love:
“I grew up in a very white world though I was raised by Negro women. If it weren’t for them, I would never have known that racism existed. I still live in a white world so am grateful to St Patrick’s and BBC for reminding me that the world is multi-colored and that we are all made in God’s image.”
“St. Patrick’s and Linworth Baptist have worked together for years on the Honduras project that has resulted in a nursing school that is changing the face of health care in Honduras. That couldn’t have happened without the two churches working together to support that mission. Together, we have very literally saved lives and empowered people who would not have been able to develop their God given expertise without our support.”
“I have become much more aware of my implicit biases and have been able to honestly address them so that I am better and don’t commit the sin of “things done and left undone” (especially the left undone ones).”
“The Dialogue on Race sessions were a refresher course for me. I had forgotten so many things from my American History classes and also learned many things that aren’t in the history books. I had forgotten how the WASP members of the Continental Congress attempted to limit the political clout of Negroes, ethnic groups and certain religions. Two examples are the three-fifths compromise and the electoral college. In today’s world this still continues; we call it gerrymandering. These policies and events certainly go against our belief that God Loves Everyone, No Exceptions.”
We’ve had to postpone several pilgrimages planned for this year and have yet to schedule any additional BBC-specific education or events as we grapple with the new normal of virtual services and ministry gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That said, as the comments show, BBC’s exposure has dramatically reshaped the lens through which our congregation interprets and responds to life, even as it plays out in our “new normal” state. It is helping to generate the energy we need to work harder to promote human dignity and equality with all our ministries and so turning into a core part of our church.