An Introduction to the Pentecost and Juneteenth Challenge 2021 and Our First Devotional Reading
“No problem in history has ever been solved by not talking about it.” – Ibram X. Kendi
The Maine Conference, UCC Anti-Racism Resource Team is sponsoring a 28 Day Anti-Racism Challenge. We invite members and friends of Maine UCC churches to commit to reading/learning/praying through this series beginning on Pentecost (May 23rd) and continuing through Juneteenth (June 19th, the celebration of the emancipation from slavery in the United States.) Those who sign up for the Challenge will receive an email every day with a resource (a reading, talk, or video) about racism, white supremacy, and anti-racism organizing.
Individuals can use this material as a devotional practice during “Pentecost season.” We also encourage churches and associations to form a weekly zoom discussion group.
We are deeply grateful for the generosity of the Tri-Town Equity and Inclusion Coalition of Freeport, Pownal, and Durham who shared already-curated lists with us and for members of the ARRT who added more resources to this already comprehensive list.
Participation Guidance and Guidelines
As we already know from other kinds of spiritual practices and religious education, we rarely read something or watch something and immediately change our behaviors and thoughts. It can take a while to read, ingest, and be changed by what we have encountered. We already know that spiritual maturation is the work of a lifetime. Part of being spiritually mature Christians is to work to dismantle the white supremacist structures that harm people and the earth and turn us away from the Gospel that Jesus points us towards.
In the same way that one might pray or read scripture daily, we are inviting you to use this material as a devotional for this allotted time. We hope that this practice of daily consideration of anti-racism will help build some spiritual muscle, inspiring you to more fully live out this particular faith practice in your everyday life.
We imagine that people with a lot of different experience levels will be participating in this community education experience. Some of what you read or watch may be very familiar to you, especially if you are Black and/or Native and/or Asian and/or Latinx and it is describing conditions you experience daily. Some of what you will read and watch will be new information or new ways of thinking. We are inviting you to approach this material with as much openness to the Holy Spirit as you can muster. Here are some practices that will help you maintain that openness:
- Get uncomfortable. This is called a challenge for a reason! As we hold ourselves in discomfort, we build resilience for ongoing learning, growth and transformation which requires sustained discomfort which enables us to change the status quo.
- Take care of yourself and each other. We need to practice self-care and build systems of support in order to be resilient and stay in uncomfortable learning spaces for the long haul.
- Embodied Practice. Pay attention to how this learning feels in your body- do you tend to numb out? Become angry? Cry? What helps you stay grounded? Breathing? Walking? Prayer? Discussing? Listening?
- Accountable Practice.
- Accountable Practice. Having been inspired by what you studied during this devotional series, you may want to figure out what comes next… how you can act, in your daily life, to help dismantle white supremacy. You will want to do some research about who is already working in the arenas that you feel called to. Who, in your area, has already been doing this work and how can you support their leadership? Are there bills in the legislature that could use your support? Remember: White supremacy is more than just individual racist actions. It is a whole system of beliefs, actions, and policies intended to make sure one group of people maintains advantages and privileges in society. Racial Justice action should happen within the context of relationships with your neighbors, for support and accountability. Some places to start learning here in Maine are:
- Wabanaki REACH: https://www.mainewabanakireach.org/
- Maine Equal Justice Project: https://maineequaljustice.org/
- Maine Initiatives: http://maineinitiatives.org/
- Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition: https://maineimmigrantrights.org/partners-members/
- SURJ Central Maine: https://www.facebook.com/centralmainesurj/?fref=ts
With all that being said, here’s the first devotional:
Please watch these two videos:
Systemic Racism Explained: https://youtu.be/YrHIQIO_bdQ
And this Video: https://youtu.be/DBxfnXql0oo