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
Churches! Where are you?
A message from Pastor Heather
"We recognize that this work is a journey.
It's long, it's personal, it's emotional, it's messy, and it's tough.
Still, we say yes.
In the name of a God who allows us to begin again and again.
In the name of God with brown skin, Jesus, who marched against discrimination all the way to the cross and whose redeeming love empowers us to do the same."
Pastor Heather shares how new light is beginning to break through the chaos of pandemic shutdowns and restrictions.
A message for the wilderness.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
United Methodist clergy officiate same-gender marriage in holy disobedience to denominational policy.
March 3, 2020
Contact: Rev. Heather Rodrigues, Pastor (919) 683-3467
DURHAM, NC - Duke Memorial United Methodist Church joyfully celebrates the covenant marriage of Caleb Parker and Thomas Phillips, which took place in our sanctuary on February 29, 2020. Twelve clergy from Duke Memorial United Methodist Church and our United Methodist and ecumenical connection jointly officiated this wedding in holy disobedience to the prohibitions against same-gender marriage laid forth by denominational policy in the United Methodist Book of Discipline (¶ 341.6). We bless Thomas’s and Caleb’s covenant promises in Christian marriage and are grateful to be given the honor of celebrating their love through the wedding worship service.
Love is at the center of our faith tradition and is a lens through which we interpret the Scriptures. We at Duke Memorial will continue to celebrate the reconciliation of all persons as beloved children of God, equal before the throne of love and grace. We will continue to welcome and affirm ALL of God’s children, as we live into our baptismal vows to “accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves” (United Methodist Hymnal, 34).