This past summer, each of us witnessed a rise in conversations around racial injustice as news of the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd made headlines.
Some of those conversations happened around the dinner table, and others happened on social media. As our Clerk of Session wrote in this fall’s issue of The Voice, as people of the church, what do we do now?
We, at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, called upon a few members to assemble an Anti-Racist Response Team (AART). At our first meeting, we knew we did not merely jump into action to check something off a to-do list. We want to think creatively on ways that hearts can be changed so that we can see all our siblings as people made in the image of God. So, we began by telling our own stories. We asked ourselves when we were aware of our race. We shared stories of our experiences of racism, and we dreamed about how the good news of Jesus disrupts racism and racist structures.
We now share these stories. Welcome to Fifth Avenue’s Courageous Conversations.
Our group is working diligently to bring a curriculum for you all to engage in your current community groups, or groups made just for this, that we will kick off in January, 2021 on the week of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Between now and then, we will be releasing monthly videos of church members sharing parts of their story. Some of these videos include members of our Anti-Racist Response Team, but not all of them. As you watch these videos, our hope is that we all learn from experiences that are different from ours and that we began to think about our own stories.
We wondered if real change begins with empathy and being in a relationship with each other and our stories. So, listen to these stories and begin to ask yourself, at what age were you aware of race? Where have you experienced an act of racism, or witnessed one in person or the media? How did that make you feel? What does the Kingdom of God look like here on earth? This is Fifth Avenue’s Courageous Conversation.
The Fifth Avenue Anti-Racist Response Team (AART)
- Jane Hong, State of Clerk
- Jama Toung, Elder
- Eric Daniels, Trustee
- Salome Noufele, Elder
- Janeca Parker-Tongue, Elder
- The Rev. Werner Ramirez