By Conference Minister Diane Weible
We are trying to do something new in our Conference. We want to create opportunities for deep and important conversations around the topic of race. This is leading up to a resolution that will be brought to Annual Gathering inviting us to consider a commitment to continuing these conversations and changing a culture that has allowed racism to continue.
I listen to a lot of podcasts and lately it feels the topic of our habits is one that is talked about a lot. Our habits become so ingrained in us that we don’t even realize we do the things we do. Some habits (like daily exercise) are good and other habits (like overeating and smoking) can be very unhealthy. When you want to change something in yourself it can be really hard. Even if we know in our head that making changes is important, the years and years of ingrained habits can be a barrier to make that fundamental change that will be transformative and lasting. A commitment to doing something to change the pattern, any pattern, is necessary to interrupt that habit.
It is said that a new habit is established in three weeks (or six weeks, depending on which psychology book you have read). How long does it take to change a habit or a way of life when that habit and way of life was instilled in you from the day you were born and permeates many aspects of the society in which you move? I am guessing that it takes a lot longer than three (or six) weeks.
Rev. Ron Buford created Racists Anonymous from the understanding that racism is so intertwined with every aspect of our being that only consistent and frequent opportunities to talk about this with others will make lasting changes in ourselves and in the world around us.
This is what our “Let’s Talk About Race” program is meant to do. We were hoping to create five or six small groups in Zoom Rooms around our Conference to meet each week for two hours to engage in a facilitated conversation around race.
Unfortunately, we only have two people currently signed up. Our planners met earlier this week to decide what to do. We are still completely committed to this program and want to see these conversations begin in some way in February. We realize it might be scary. We also know that even setting up rooms in various locations to make travel easier may not be so easy on a weekday. We don’t know what the right format, day of the week, time of day is best for everyone but we are hoping that we can connect with some people who are ready to engage in brave conversations. This is not a “one and done.” We will build on this opportunity and our ultimate vision is that we will create a culture where these conversations are happening in our local churches, in our Associations and across the Conference on a regular basis.
SO, we want to shift gears a little. We are going to try this program online. You can connect on a computer at home or at work, whatever is convenient for you, as long as it has a video camera so we can see you. The program is still free and we are planning to find ways for us to come together online but also break out into smaller groups (still online) for deeper conversations with a facilitator.
If this sounds like something you want to try, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will email back with all the details. Sessions will begin on February 20, 6:30-8:30 PM. They will run through March 26.
Looking forward to hearing from you!