THE WORK OF THE OUTREACH AND SERVICE COMMITTEE
by Chris Eisenbeis, Salem Mennonite Church, Freeman, SD, chair of Outreach and Service Committee
"Musings of a Recovering Racist." That was the title of a webinar on racism presented by the Outreach and Service Committee on three successive Tuesdays--February 11, 18, and 25. Our presenter was Drick Boyd, professor emeritus of Eastern University (EU) in Philadelphia. Boyd's classes at EU focused on urban theology, leadership, social justice, and race and ethnic relations. As evidenced in the webinar title, the hard truth exists that we all have some aspects of racism present in our lives. Even the most well-intentioned among us must deal with those aspects on an ongoing basis.
Boyd shared from his own personal experiences with racism, his insights gained in teaching and writing, and the thoughts of other experts in the field.
Our first session provided an overview by defining terms. We learned that in addition to people's words and actions, racism is also present in our thoughts, social systems and institutions.
White fragility was addressed in our second session. Why is it so difficult for white people to talk about race? Guilt, fear, social taboos, and our own experiences with race all contribute to our discomfort in these discussions.
In our final session Boyd guided us in thinking about disrupting these patterns and how white people might be empowered to talk about race effectively and with purpose.
We had between 8 and 13 church groups, other small groups, or individuals taking part in each webinar. Ample opportunities were provided for questions, discussions, and sharing of experiences from the participants. Boyd gave us a variety of additional resources we can use to become even more well-informed.
The webinars were recorded and are available for viewing on the CPMC website. We encourage people to access them for their own individual use, for Sunday School classes or Bible study groups. They are a valuable resource that can be used in any number of settings.
The purpose of the Outreach and Service Committee is to assist member congregations in promoting all forms of Christian witness, including evangelism, peace, justice, and church planting efforts in both our geographical area and the global community. This primary purpose is carried out in part through three task groups: The Ecuador/Venezuela Partnership, the Peace and Justice Task Group, and the Church Planting Strategy Team. The Outreach and Service Committee works closely with Nathan Luitjens, the Executive Conference Minister.