We are taking this time as a congregation to identify, declare, and commit to what it means to share life within God’s Beloved Community.
The work that has been done to date has led the All Saints’ Community to join the communal cry that Black Lives Matter and face what it means to raise our awareness of systemic injustice as individuals and as a community—what it means to move from awareness to action.
In 2015, All Saints’ formed Justice Matters to establish shared language and definitions around systems of inequality and to use our Theology of Change to create a theological statement about race, initially adopted on February 7, 2016. This statement came from a year-long process of wrestling with the sins of systemic racism and the existence of special privileges and rights offered to people who are identified as “white” in our society. It is a dynamic document, in flux, and this version is merely a waypoint as we continue to reflect.
Theological Statement on Race
The blood of the dead and the cries of the living are calling us
to repent for our sins of racism.
We confess that when we do nothing,
we permit the neglect, abuse, and murder
of our black and brown sisters and brothers.
God yearns for us to care, to act, for all to be set free.
Longing for justice, learning from history,
listing to voices of truth,
we vow, with God’s help,
to claim our responsibilities to overturn,
systems of racial inequality.
And so we build the beloved community of God.
From the work of the Justice Matters Committee, we discerned a call to examine our role and responsibility to raise antiracist children.
In 2018, we founded our Becoming an Antiracist Beloved Community group to work with parents and caregivers to change our conversations about race through reflection, dialogue, and training. In 2019, we formed a partnership with Speak Up (Schools and Parents Educating Antiracist Kids to be Upstanding People, https://www.speakupchicago.com/), a Chicago organization providing education and consultation focused on racial equity and anti-bias education. We have hosted five sessions of their seven-week course, “How Do We Talk with Children About Race,” as well as a four-week course on systemic oppression. These courses are transforming our conversations about race as a congregation.
In 2019, we were awarded a Becoming Beloved Community Grant from the Episcopal Church to continue this work. We look to a future where antiracist culture, language, and actions—clearly, explicitly, and unequivocally—will be woven into the fabric of everything we do at All Saints’.
Books for a Beloved Community
The Becoming an Antiracist Beloved Community group at All Saints’ believes that books are “windows and mirrors”—opportunities to understand others’ lives and see reflections of our own experiences represented in the words and pictures on the page. We have developed a “little free library” collection housed at the church and available to all, choosing a growing list of books for babies through adults that lift up voices, stories, and images too often overlooked, silenced and hidden by a culture that favors whiteness. These books serve as a powerful starting point for crucial conversations about the work of becoming antiracist.
“Windows and mirrors” evokes our larger vision for All Saints’: that we can find a way to make the gospel message of Jesus Christ a window and a mirror for everyone who walks through our doors. Our dream is for everyone to be able to find themselves and others in the liturgy at All Saints’: the imagery, language, and rituals we use in our building and in our worship. As a historically white denomination that has inherited and benefited from a legacy of white supremacy, we cannot rely on tradition to save us from the sin of racism. But we believe that lifting up the stories that have been erased from our history and our present is a first step toward repentance. We hope that this library inspires you to join us in this work, wherever you find yourself on this journey.
For those of you who do not have access to our physical library, here is a public Google spreadsheet of titles in the Books for a Beloved Community library, with links to take to your local library or book shop.