Anti-Racism Task Force
September 2021 Update
The Anti-racism Task Force was appointed by Church Council in August 2020 to identify ways in which DMUMC contributes to systems of racism and anti-racism and share with Church Council ways we can become an anti-racist church.
But why does becoming an anti-racist church matter? “Love the Lord your God....(it says in Luke 11:25-29)....with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And we hear from Amos 5 that to love is to fight for justice- justice that rolls on like a river. As Christians, we believe the work of anti-racism is the work of mercy and justice as we seek to love our neighbor as ourselves.
And we’re not the only ones doing the work! The United Methodist Church has undertaken the work of anti-racism for years through the General Commission on Religion and Race founded in 1968. The North Carolina Conference under the leadership of Bishop Ward has also been promoting anti-racism work. And we join several other churches here in Durham on this journey as well.
In 2016, following the death of Michael Brown, Duke Memorial began to pray, preach, teach, and discern what it means to be an anti-racist congregation. Most recently, in 2020, new investments and commitments were made, the Anti-Racism Task Force being one of those.
So far, the Task Force has spent time together learning about the history of our city and our church, and discussing what we believe are important ideas to become an anti-racist congregation. We asked church leaders to complete an inventory on racial equity with their committees, allowing them to reflect on how their work may contribute to or hinder racial justice. And we realized that, to do this work well, we needed professional expertise.
We are excited to announce that, with approval from Church Council, we have hired local consultant Alicia Crosby to guide us in our work!
Alicia’s consultation with us will include a congregation survey, meetings with the ART Force, and listening sessions with the congregation. The work of the Task Force will conclude in November in a final report with recommendations for next steps to become an anti-racist church. The report will then be given to the Church Council, who will decide on the next steps.
From you, friends, we ask for participation in the process - sign up for a listening session, complete a survey*, pray for the journey, and offer grace: Grace for ourselves, and grace from each other in order to do this important and difficult work well. We will mess up, most certainly, and from our mistakes will learn a better way even as we will be amazed again, through the difficult work ahead, just how mighty God is when we step out in faith in the name of justice, hope and love.
Rev. Heather Rodrigues
Chair, Anti-racism Task Force
*Information coming soon about upcoming listening sessions and survey opportunities.
A Statement From Your Ministry Team
The book “White Awake” was pulled this past week from our spiritual formation offerings due to the anti-LGBTQ+ stance of both the publishing company and the author. In our journey towards full inclusion, we recognize the intersectionality of justice and welcome for all: To seek to create equity and justice for People of Color without also doing the same for all oppressed people including LGBTQ+ persons is to undercut Jesus’ call to love our neighbor as ourselves.
We are grateful for those who brought this to our attention even as we grieve having made a decision that necessitated such a response.
The work of creating God’s kingdom on Earth as it is in heaven is a journey full of praise and pain, celebration and grief. Even as we give thanks for Duke Memorial’s commitment to the work of full inclusion for all of God’s children, we lament the ways our work has, at times, caused further pain and trauma to the very ones we seek to love. Even though our intent in offering this study was good and lovely, we name and lament that the impact caused harm.
To that end, we will replace “White Awake” with a study that explores the journey of anti-racism within the context of our Christian faith, written and published by those who seek the same justice for LGBTQ+ persons. As well, we will re-evaluate our Anti-Racism Formation Guide and remove any resources from authors or organizations that do not align with our welcome statement.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Heather Rodrigues
Rev. Jennifer Ingold Asbill
Minister Garrett Rocha
What is the ART Force?
The Anti-Racism Task Force is Duke Memorial's team appointed by Church Council in August 2020 to (1) identify ways in which DMUMC contributes to systems of racism and anti-racism, and (2) to share with Church Council ways we can become an anti-racist church. Our work has been evolving, and we have been meeting since August to explore terms and ideas. We are now at the stage to hear from church members, and we explain more about that in a later section.
Why do we need an an Anti-Racism Task Force?
Racism--a worldview that is established in our political, economic, cultural, and social systems, where one race is viewed as being more important than another--is a powerful and omnipresent oppressive force against Black People, Indigenous People, and People of Color. We acknowledge that racism is a system, meaning that the power that white people have collectively goes beyond the individual actor. We recognize that the contributors to racism come from many levels, and that to dismantle racism in our communities and at Duke Memorial, we must address all of these contributors appropriately who benefit from racism in the form of white privilege: us as individuals, the corporate institution of Duke Memorial, and the greater UMC.
We are doing the work of anti-racism because it is part of our Christian calling. We know from Luke 11:25-29, that we are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And we know from Amos 5:24, that we are called to do justice: “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” We believe the work of anti-racism is the work of love and justice.
Who else is doing this work?
We are not alone in doing this work. The United Methodist Church has undertaken the work of anti-racism for years through the General Commission on Religion and Race founded in 1968. The North Carolina Conference under the leadership of Bishop Ward has also been promoting anti-racism work. More recently in the wake of anti-Black violence and the Black Lives Matter response of 2020, Duke Memorial decided to seriously invest energy in our own anti-racism work, and creating this task force would build off the important and intense work of the Full Inclusion Task Force. Duke Memorial has assembled some content already and was put on the website over the summer.
How can you be a part of our Anti-Racism work?
In the months of April and May, the ART Force will host several Listening Sessions, where you can offer your thoughts about the work of anti-racism. The sessions will be about one-hour long, structured with questions and moderated so each person can respond. Your thoughts and ideas will help shape how we move forward to become an anti-racist church. Please contact Caleb Parker (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to be a part of this. More details on the sessions will be shared in the coming weeks.
What we ask of you.
Grace. We ask grace for ourselves, and grace from each other to do this important and difficult work well. We will mess up on our path of good intentions, and we will learn from them to do better. We have found just how difficult and complex this work is, and know that to become an anti-racist church will require all of us working together with purpose and grace for our lifetime.
ART Force Members
Caleb Parker, Jack Carroll, Jennifer Shingleton, Kerry Averette, Craige Summers, Fuller Sasser, Haven Biddix, Ginny Ghezzo, and Angie Hong.
January 8, 2021
We the pastors and Church Council of Duke Memorial United Methodist Church in Durham, NC, appreciate the commitment to duty and courage of the legislators who, on Wednesday evening, conducted the business of the nation in the face of violence and endorsed the votes of all Americans in the election of our next president. We thank the law enforcement, Secret Service, and military personnel who placed themselves in danger to protect others. We pray for those killed, injured, or terrorized by the violence, and for those who feel unheard and unsupported.
At the same time, we denounce those who invoked the name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus, during their violent assault on the United States Congress. Jesus calls us to reconciliation with God and with each other. When Jesus’ own disciples took up arms against Roman oppressors seeking to remove him and kill him, Jesus stopped the violence and healed the injured Roman. Jesus embodied self-sacrificing service for the sake of others, a willingness to die rather than violently insist on his own agenda. We are saved by Jesus, not by our violence.
As a church, we again commit to stand up and speak out against evil, oppression and injustice in whatever forms they present themselves as we seek to love as Jesus loved: not in ways sentimental but in ways that lead to justice, mercy, forgiveness and grace for all.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Hebrews 12:14-15)
2021 Church Council, Duke Memorial UMC
Rev. Heather Rodrigues, Lead Pastor
Rev. Jennifer Ingold Asbill, Minister of Children and Pastoral Care
Statement crafted by
Rev. Heather Rodrigues, Rev. Jennifer Ingold Asbill,
Rev. Renee Burnette, Jim Coble, and Gair McCullough
A Summons to Witness, Protest, and Promise
We United Methodists in The North Carolina Conference join our voices in witness, protest and promise in these times of violence against our Black brothers and sisters.
We believe that the Holy Spirit is indeed poured out upon all people.
We believe that in baptism, we are incorporated into God's mighty acts of salvation, and commissioned to resist evil, injustice and oppression, in whatever forms they present themselves.
We believe that God's intent for humanity is community, compassion, and holiness, and that justice has been marred by the history of enslavement and racism.
We believe that repentance is urgent for the historic and ongoing violence against Black girls and boys, men and women.
We believe that in the wounding of Black bodies we see Christ crucified.
We believe that those who have been steeped in white privilege, through repentance, can be transformed into humble servants of the living God.
We believe we are called to work for the day when God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Duke Memorial United Methodist Church stands on the side of love and reconciliation, not judgment and exclusion.
February 28, 2019
Rev. Heather Rodrigues, Lead Pastor
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18
We regret and are saddened by the recent decision of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church to bar, on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, those whom God has called to the ministry; to deny marriage to certain members of the faith on the basis of their respective genders; and to push from our pulpits those clergy whose consciences will not permit them to comply with these hurtful policies. We do not see the love of Jesus reflected in this decision. We believe that it inflicts needless and unjust pain upon persons for whom Jesus died and leaves an enduring scar on the Body of Christ. Love is at the center of our faith tradition and is the lens through which we interpret the Scriptures. We will continue to celebrate the reconciliation of all persons as beloved children of God, equal before the throne of love and grace.
Duke Memorial UMC
504 W. Chapel Hill Street
Durham, NC 27701
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