“He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?”
As our nation and world faces division and pain, FPC’s Pastoral Staff and Session Elders felt called to respond explicitly regarding racism and injustice through the following statement. An invitation to our congregation follows the statement as a way to grow and respond in faithfulness:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
FPC firmly believes that every person is created in the image of God and is loved by God. Racism perpetuates the lie that some people are of less value than others based on the color of their skin or ethnic origin. “It is also a lie about God, for it falsely claims that God favors parts of creation over the entirety of creation.”* We as a church acknowledge that racism is present in our own community and in ourselves. We lament our role in maintaining and benefiting from the systemic oppression of people of color. As individuals we understand our responsibility to God, ourselves, and each other to work out our own prejudice and brokenness. As a faith community, we are committed to working together towards inclusive worship and fellowship which celebrates the diversity of God’s creation. Therefore, “as followers of Jesus Christ we stand against racism in all its myriad forms.”*
“For [Christ] is our peace; in his flesh he has made [us] into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” Ephesians 2:14
Join FPC’s 21 Day Racial Justice Challenge
Our FPC Session and Pastors strongly encourage everyone to participate in 21 days of engagement with God’s heart for racial justice. Each day you will be invited to explore resources including Bible passages, readings, video clips, and podcasts. If you would like to receive weekly e-mail reminders with the daily challenge links, sign up here:
Our 21 Day Racial Justice Challenge begins on June 19th
During the following 21 days you are encouraged to participate in a study group. All groups will be discussing a lesson from the Facing Racism Study Guide published by the PCUSA. The material for daily engagement is farther down this page (click the banner to expand and view).
Racial Justice Study Group Options on Zoom:
Tuesdays (June 23, 30, July 7) – 10 AM (Women’s Bible Study) and 7 PM (All Invited)
Wednesdays (June 24, July 1st, July 8th) – 10 AM (Women’s Bible Study) and 4:30 PM (in lieu of Doug’s Bible Study – All Invited)
Thursdays (June 25, July 2nd, July 9th) – 4 PM (In lieu of Searching on Zoom – All Invited)
All Zoom meeting rooms will be listed in the Church Calendar
Content for the study groups is below, and will be emailed as a reminder if you sign up for 21-Day Challenge email reminders. Stay connected beyond the challenge and sign up to receive Doug’s Weekly Words.
Click below to open the daily 21 Day Racial Justice Challenge Resources:
We are taking a journey together to navigate what it means to respond to the racial justice crises in our nation. There is pain, there is miscommunication, there is confusion – but there is hope! We know that this journey is both a personal one and a community one. We each must do some work on our own, but we need each other in order to learn and grow. And we go praying for God’s wisdom and guidance in every step! Join us as you are able, and feel free to invite others to join you in the journey.
Each day varies in length – some take less than 5min, others could take up to an hour. Either way, guard some space so you can prayerfully engage with the content.
Every day we encourage exploration with some reflection around these four questions (consider using a journal, inviting some conversation, going on a walk with God, etc.):
What do you notice?
What do you wonder?
What do you feel?
How do you want to respond?
Write a short prayer in response to what you’ve viewed, read or listened to.
Take a break as needed – this is heavy stuff, but important. If you don’t finish in the 21 days, come back and continue exploring.
This is only the beginning of a much longer journey…
Conversation in Community – Weekly Study Groups:
Week 1: Facing Racism Study Guide – week ONE: Biblical Imperative to Antiracism
Week 2: Facing Racism Study Guide – week TWO: Envisioning a New Way of Life Together
Week 3: Facing Racism Study Guide – week SIX: Responding as a Community of Faith
FPC’s 21 Day Racial Justice Challenge beginning on June 19th*
*June 19th is also know as Juneteeth – “the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free … two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.”
6/19 – Day 1. Watch this short video of Latasha Morrison, who runs the non-profit Be the Bridge, as she speaks to the spiritual issue of racism in our country:
Racial Tension, Reconciliation, and the Church (YouTube)
More of Latasha’s work can be found here: https://bethebridge.com/
6/20 – Day 2. Study the Week One lesson from the Facing Racism Study Guide (this lesson will be discussed in our groups June 23-25th):
Facing Racism Study Guide (PDF)
6/21 – Day 3. Watch an updated version of the Clark doll experiment, which explores how early-in-life ideas of racial inferiority and superiority are internalized. Inside the AC360 doll study (YouTube)
6/22 – Day 4. Whether you have kids or not, the following articles help us keep up with the language and landscape of the conversation both with children and each other. Choose one, read and reflect:
Read How to Talk About Race with Your Kids from Christianity Today.
Read Talking to White Kids about Racism (tip sheet PDF) or listen to the podcast Talking to White Kids about Anti-Racism on Soundcloud or on the episode resources page.
Listen to this brief interview with Ibram Kendi and Renee Watson (NPR, 6/16/20) as they discuss how parents can help their children understand how to be anti-racist.
6/23 – Day 5. Take some time to read and process this article from Christianity Today:
Justice Too Long Delayed
6/24 – Day 6. Environmental Justice Explained in this three and half minute video on how racism can be found in issues of environmental injustice. Consider how this happens in our city.
Environmental justice, explained (YouTube)
6/25 – Day 7. Read Bellingham’s Racial History Timeline from WWU: https://wp.wwu.edu/timeline/
If you walk from downtown Fairhaven to Marine park, there are cement block historical markers that also tell the history of Fairhaven Bellingham. One marker indicates the point which was as far as Chinese boat workers were allowed to go. If you can make a trip out to see this for yourself (and even if you can’t), take a moment to stop here and pray – repenting of our racism and bias is powerful and important.
Other areas in Bellingham to visit and pray:
Visit Cornwall Park where the KKK picnic and parade starting point was held on May 15, 1926.
Bellingham Central Library – The Arch of Healing and Reconciliation on the corner of Lottie and North Commercial streets describes three episodes in Whatcom County in which immigrants were targeted for removal: Chinese Americans in 1885, Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus from India in 1907, and Japanese Americans in 1942.
6/26 – Day 8. Engage with the article “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh.
6/27 – Day 9. Study the Week Two lesson from the Facing Racism Study Guide (this lesson will be discussed in our study groups June 30-July 2).
6/28 – Day 10. Watch the PBS documentary: “Unspoken: America’s Native American Boarding Schools.”
With kids – watch “Grandpa’s Drum” in this PBS Kids episode of Molly of Denali.
Consider adding the book I Am Not a Number to your family library. Definitely read it together – it will help facilitate conversations and awareness about the boarding schools. Find it at Village Books, or on Amazon, or at the public library.
6/29 – Day 11. Take the awareness test. How does this resonate with your awareness of race in our community? Take the Awareness Test (YouTube)
Watch Phil Vischer’s (the creator of Veggie Tales) Holy Post: Race in America.
6/30 – Day 12. Study the Week Three lesson from the Facing Racism Study Guide.
7/1- Day 13. Watch this TED Talk by Verna Myers:
“How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them.” (YouTube)
7/2 – Day 14. Study the Week Four lesson from the Facing Racism Study Guide and visit the Presbyterian Intercultural Network’s website.
7/3 – Day 15. Listen to Brene Brown’s podcast interview with Austin Channing Brown.
7/4 – Day 16. Listen to a brief history of the Black National Anthem (YouTube). Read the anthem’s lyrics. Listen to it sung by the We Are the Future Big Band. Listen to a more traditional choir rendition.
7/5 – Day 17. Study week Five lesson from the Facing Racism Study Guide.
7/6 – Day 18. Study the Week Six lesson from the Facing Racism Study Guide. (this lesson will be discussed in our groups July 7-9th)
7/7 – Day 19. Notice the structures and practices in our church. Consider how people of different cultural backgrounds may experience worship with us.
Watch this trailer for The Color of Compromise (and if you have time and access, the show!)
Join an FPC study group
7/8 – Day 20. Engage: Consider cooking a recipe from another culture, then shop for ingredients in a small ethnic neighborhood grocery store (e.g., La Gloria, Mi Rancho, Asia Market, Intercontinental Foods), and notice how you feel and act.
7/9 – Day 21. Act:
Research local organizations to support which are addressing the core needs in our community in working towards racial justice.
Consider buying Latasha Morrison’s book Be the Bridge and think about who in your community you can build a bridge with. Where can you listen to the stories of people in your community who have a different lived experience? How might you continue this conversation with people who think differently than you?
Register to vote – We are not interested in promoting partisan politics, and the good reality of democracy is keeping each other in check. Your vote on policies, public servants, and systems have an effect on our community. Be informed!
Read one way our denomination (the PC(USA)) has responded and invites us to learn more:
Facing Racism Policy crafted in 2016
A Prayer of Lament From the FPC Pastors, Offered 5/30/20:
We lament the brutal killing of George Floyd and countless other black lives before him
We lament the injustice and brutality that have marked our country for so long
We lament the history of racism and injustice that we participate in
We lament that the strong voices of peaceful protesters
Are lost in the fires of violence
We lament the violence and destruction happening in the cities we love
We lament our silence in the face of racism
We repent of our silence
We lament the hate and fear in our own lives
We repent of the ways we’ve hoarded our own privilege and
turned our face away from the oppressed
We cry out, God forgive us
We have sinned
We turn to Jesus Christ who suffered brutality and injustice
We cling to Jesus Christ who forgives the thief, the sinner, next to him
We cling to Jesus Christ who, through the cross, gathers us all in his suffering
We cling to Jesus Christ who, through the resurrection, gathers us all in hope
We submit to the way of Jesus
We call on the Spirit of God to move us all to surrender to the way of Jesus
and bring us to our knees
We breathe in the Spirit’s movement to peace, justice, mercy, and love
We surrender to the Spirit’s presence
To allow us to be about the primary tasks of doing justice, loving mercy,
and walking humbly with God
to love our neighbor and to love our enemies,
especially when they are the same person…
We pray for healing and justice in our police culture
in our communities, in all our governance bodies
And we trust that what was meant for evil
God will use for good
We trust that what is born of hate
God will use for love
We trust that God is at work redeeming the suffering and pain of this season
and using it for Kingdom truth and Kingdom life.
We trust, Lord
that you are the light
that you shine in the darkness, and the dark will never overcome…