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Invitation to Sacred Ground - Conversations on Race

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

Sacred Ground

Conversations on Race, Grounded in Faith

Especially for White Episcopalians

(all welcome)

Join a small group of Sharon Chapel parishioners for a multi-week series as we work, study, share, learn, and act to undo the power of racism and white supremacy in ourselves, our history, our parish, and our church.

Email Fr. Cayce with questions and to sign-up: rector@sharonchapel.org

1st Meeting - Wed March 18th, 7:30pm - 9:00pm

(9) Subsequent Meetings - every other Wednesday (tentative); schedule to be determined by the group

Introduction videos, including from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry found at: https://episcopalchurch.org/sacred-ground

More details about the series can be found below and at: https://episcopalchurch.org/sacred-ground/invitation

Peace, Cayce+

Sacred Ground is a race dialogue series designed for these times.  It is an attempt to be responsive to the profound challenges that currently exist in our society.  It is focused on the challenges that swirl around issues of race and racism, as well as the difficult but respectful and transformative dialogue we need to have with each other about them. It invites participants to walk back through history in order to peel away the layers that brought us to today, and to do so in a personal way, reflecting on family histories and stories, as well as important narratives that shape the collective American story.  It holds the vision of beloved community as a guiding star - where all people are honored and protected and nurtured as beloved children of God, where we weep at one another's pain and seek one another's flourishing.

Sacred Ground is a film- and readings-based dialogue series on race, grounded in faith.  Small groups are invited to walk through chapters of America's history of race and racism, while weaving in threads of family story, economic class, and political and regional identity.The series is built around a powerful online curriculum of documentary films and readings that focus on Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific American histories as they intersect with European American histories.

We will also explore history specific to Sharon Chapel and the Diocese of Virginia.

Sacred Ground is part of Becoming Beloved Community, The Episcopal Church's long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation, and justice in our personal lives, our ministries, and our society.  This series is open to all, and especially designed to help white people talk with other white people.  Participants are invited to peel away the layers that have contributed to the challenges and divides of the present day - all while grounded in our call to faith, hope and love.

  • Focusing on Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian American histories as they intersect with European American histories.

  • Emphasizing personal story-sharing and deepening relationships.

  • Exploring of how people of color have been harmed by racism, and how white people have been hurt in other ways, creating a shared - if deeply unequal - brokenness that compels us to overcome these legacies in deliberate partnership.  This work can take various shapes.

  • Encouraging  dialogue groups with socioeconomic and political diversity

  • Attention on issues related to race, while also examining how those issues intersect with family history, class status, regional identity (regional cultures, urban/rural divides, coasts versus heartland), and political identity (red states/blue states, Trump-related divides).

  • A spiritual journey is grounded in the Christian faith and in the example of Jesus Christ; depending on the power of scripture, prayer, God's grace, and the Holy Spirit to help us step closer to the dream of beloved community.

A critical consideration is the racial composition of your dialogue circle.  So often, people of color are called on to do the heavy lifting around unpacking "race," while whites take a more passive role (if any role at all).  Therefore, please note that the Study Guide is written from the point of view of a white woman primarily for use by other white people, in the spirit of building a stronger foundation for whites to engage in ongoing interracial dialogue in other spaces.  At this stage in American life and in the life of our Church, white Episcopalians could make an especially powerful contribution to the journey toward racial justice and reconciliation by entering into deep listening and dialogue with other white Episcopalians/Christians, some of whom may be significantly and uncomfortably different from themselves.  These differences could be in terms of socioeconomic and political perspectives, and at root, differences in perception of what ails this country with respect to race and class.

Even with the emphasis on what may be termed "white work," the curriculum is flexible and will work if the Spirit leads to the formation of interracial dialogue circles.  There are many reasons to take this approach, especially if the congregation is at the stage in its racial healing and justice journey in which whites can be in open, responsible conversation with people of color, and people of color will not need to "take care of" white peers as they come to terms with various dimensions of racism.  If you are a person of color, please take a look at the Study Guide and see if it speaks to you, even with its tilt toward a white audience.

Congregations are invited to take the time for prayerful discernment around this question.  What important conversations might flow from gathering a group of white people who are diverse in various ways?  What healing work is best accomplished intra-racially, and what can be done best inter-racially?  Or perhaps you wish to organize with a hybrid approach of some "together" time and some "affinity group" time.  There is more food for thought on these tender questions in the "Organizing a Dialogue Circle" section of the Study Guide.  This process of collective discernment is itself a valuable process, and we trust that the Spirit will lead.

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