A Statement of our Commitment to Racial Justice and Healing
About this page
This page does not pretend to be an exhaustive resource. There are a lot of very good resources out there, we encourage you to explore further.
This page is a living page. We will be regularly adding resources to this page.
This page encourages us to consider viewpoints other than our own. Not all viewpoints expressed in these resources represent the opinions of the leadership of NAPC.
We have an amazing opportunity for change at this time. The change we are looking for does not happen in a moment, it requires sustained, deliberate action. The two graphics below help to describe the process of change.
What Can I Do?
This is a question that is on many of our lips at this time. This page is designed to be a resource to help you to find ways that you can make a difference. There is a lot of information here, we do not want to overwhelm you. Take time to pray first and ask God to lead you into what He has for you to do.
Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you, embolden you, soften you, release compassion in you, and inspire you to take the action He has for you.
Pray for our leaders and our nation.
Pray for the Church to be an example. Pray for unity. Pray for action.
Pray for justice.
Pray for the youth of Atlanta.
Hear the stories of our brothers and sisters and how they have been impacted by the wrongs done to people of color.
Sometimes you just need to listen and not make it about you. Don’t explain a time you felt similar. Don’t ask your token marginalized friend what you should be doing to be a better ally. Listen. Research on your own time. Practice radical empathy. Do not ask questions that express doubt “Are you sure….” Do ask questions that show you want to know more “What situations make you feel…..” And then listen some more.
Engaging in racially mixed settings can trigger age-old power and privilege dynamics. The goal is to be a learner more than a knower, exactly the opposite of what dominant U.S. culture teaches us to be.
Here are some Engagement Tips to guide you:
- Enter conversations to learn and bridge your knowledge gaps.
- Stay engaged even when your mind and body start sending you signals to shrink or walk away.
- Ask clarifying questions.
- Acknowledge what you don’t know.
- Validate others by listening closely and believing the truth and importance of what they are sharing.
- Notice your biases and judgments as they arise. These are gold for you to excavate your subconscious!
- Notice when you are uncomfortable. Reflect on why you’re uncomfortable and think about what you can do to build more emotional stamina in this area.
- Honor confidentiality. Though you can share what you are learning in general terms, do not repeat stories in a way that can be traced back to the person who shared it.
Dr. Fluker at NAPC
From time to time we receive a message that is disruptive enough or more uncomfortable than what we are used to that, we need the opportunity to process the meaning of it together. That was the case, for some of us, with Dr. Walter Fluker’s sermon at North Avenue on August 30, 2020. Diversity of thought, political orientation, economic outlook and relationships have been factors in the composition of the church from the earliest days. And since then, the church has been working out what it means to be the Body of Christ in the midst of what sometimes erupts as conflict. Paul begins his letter to the Romans acknowledging that truth but also relying upon the power of the Gospel to hold us together. He writes in Romans 1:14-17, “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”’
As we lean into the power of the Gospel to cultivate righteousness within us, “a justice of which God is the source and author,” we will find that the diversity of ways in which the Gospel is proclaimed across the different expressions of the church may catch us off guard and require time to discuss, process, and pray about what God may be saying to us through unknown or unexpected voices ~ dare we say “prophetic” voices?
To create space for just that, we held a North Avenue Town Hall on Tuesday evening, September 1 via Zoom.
The gathering was moderated by Senior Pastor Shayne Wheeler, Associate Pastor Megan Johnson, Clerk of Session Don Handell, Moderator of Deacons Bruce Zents and Reconciliation Task Force Member/Deacon Marc Pilgrim.
The recording of both the sermon and the Town Hall meeting are below.
Know and own our racial history as a country, as a Church and as individuals.
Be challenged by scripture to take action.
IVP has a page ful of resources for faithful Justice.
“IVP is grateful for the prophetic voices of our authors who share their stories, educate us when we are uninformed, and challenge us with the truth. Learn from these books as we pursue justice, wholeness, and racial righteousness in our homes, churches, and communities.”
Pastor Shayne Wheeler speaks on the subject “Why Cross Cultural Engagement Is Hard For Us”
Bryan Stevenson “We can’t recover from this history until we deal with it.”
America has 5% of the worlds population but has 25% of the worlds prisoners. How did this come about and how does this relate to racism?
Racial Wealth Gap Explained
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.
Next Church has published a page regarding “Race and the Church”. It includes 4 sermons on the subject which you can either view at your own time or join one of their hosted group watch and discussion gatherings.
At the NEXT Church National Gathering in Atlanta in 2016, Rev. Aisha Brooks-Lytle offered a powerful sermon about how we cannot simply avoid or skirt around the challenges facing us, we have to go through them.
- ︎Call Your Senator: They say calling is the most effective way to influence your representative. It’s a great way to have your voice heard if you can aren’t physically able to attend an event.
- ︎Sign Petitions: If you don’t like interacting with folks on the streets with clipboards and a cause, there are plenty of ways to get involved online. One of the most popular is Change.org, where you can start your own petition or browse currently running petitions you can sign.
- Engage in local criminal justice elections (i.e. judges, prosecutors and sheriffs) and advocate for legislative criminal justice reform. We tend to focus our attention on federal elections, but local and state elections are very important as well. Christians can come together and weigh in on criminal justice issues by hosting panels and meeting with criminal justice candidates and elected officials, while holding electeds accountable to our Gospel imperatives.
Though many people want to jump to action sooner instead of later, action without a vigorous self-education and self-reflection practice can unexpectedly reproduce the very power and privilege dynamics we seek to interrupt. Here are a few actions that you might consider:
- Prepare yourself to interrupt racial jokes.
- Interrupt the pattern of white silence by speaking openly with family, friends, and colleagues about what you’re doing to overcome your own prejudice.
- Find out if your school, workplace, or faith group has an Equity Committee. What can you learn from them? Are they open to new members? Join if you can. Support in other ways if you can’t.
- Find organizations such as The & Campaign, and other non-profits doing racial justice work and support them through donating your time, money, and other resources.
- When the status quo is racist, disrupt it. No matter how big or small put yourself out there to create change. No need to wait until you are comfortable disrupting; it may never get comfortable, though you will get better at managing discomfort! Examples include:
- Requiring administration to change the name of a dodgeball team from “The Cottonpickers”
- Improving the representation of books in the library by raising funds and purchasing hundreds of new books
- Conducting an equity audit within the organization
- Creating learning communities to set goals, objectives, and action plans
- Disrupting inappropriate language by offering alternative language you yourself are learning
- Speaking, emailing, and posting about articles, blogs, movies. Let people know you are not neutral!