By Conference Minister Diane Weible
Thank you to everyone who participated in Annual Gathering last Saturday. I left that meeting so grateful for the many ways Spirit was present.
We entered into brave conversations and deep discernment around four resolutions that will guide our justice work in this Conference. We made commitments to living out what it means to be anti-racist.
I received many emails in the last few days from members of our Conference saying how energized, proud, and encouraged they are about the work of Annual Gathering. I am excited that we passed resolutions that will focus on specific anti-racist work: racial justice and anti-biased training for our authorized ministers and church members; commitment to anti-racist camp programs; and making amends for a colonizing past. We have created a path forward in this really hard work.
At the end of his book, How to be Anti-Racist, Ibram X Kendi compares our way forward in anti-racism work with treating cancer. He offers this treatment plan:
Remove any remaining racist policies, the way surgeons remove the tumors. Ensure there are clear margins, meaning no cancer cells of inequity left in the body politic, only the healthy cells of equity. Encourage the consumption of healthy foods for thought and the regular exercising of antiracist ideas, to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence. Monitor the body politic closely, especially where the tumors of racial inequity previously existed. Detect and treat a recurrence early, before it can grow and threaten the body politic.
NCNC made a commitment, through these resolutions, to treat the cancer that is racism. As with any serious illness, the treatment may feel worse than the illness but when you decide you can no longer live with the illness, you find yourself ready to go through the pain in order to find true healing. I think this is where we are.
As a white person with privilege, the way forward is both scary and hopeful. My deepest hope and prayer is that we have created a culture in our covenant with one another (and will continue to deepen and strengthen that culture) that will give us the courage to stay with the hard work that is before us.
I remember a beloved member of our church in Japan where we served for 12 years. Hatsuko was diagnosed with cancer just a short time after she was baptized and joined our church. Some of her family members who were not Christian said that she was being punished for turning her back on her faith. Hatsuko, however, said that she could not have faced her surgery and recovery if it were not for having found in our little congregation the deep and peaceful presence of God and her brothers and sisters in faith.
Like Hatsuko, we have made a statement that we are ready to face this illness because of the strength we have found in God and in one another. My hope and prayer is that we learn to trust one another, to lean into the challenge and the critique, and to listen to God’s powerful call to us in this time and place.