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 Many years ago, a friend and I were talking about how we identify people in conversation.  Steve said, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said ‘So, I was with my friend Tim—he’s a black guy’…I’ve never said ‘So, I was with my friend Bob, he’s a white guy…’  Why is that?  Why do we feel the need to identify anyone who isn’t white?” 

That conversation has stuck with me over the years and to this day, I am conscious of when I offer that extra description and when I don’t.  My ruminations resonated with the words Debby Irving offers in the Introduction of Waking Up White.  She writes:

“For years I struggled silently to understand race and racism.  I had no way to make sense of debates in the media about whether the white guy was ‘begin a racist’ or the black guy was ‘playing the race card.’  I wanted close friends of color but kept ending up with white people as my closet friends.  When I was with a person of color, I felt an inexplicable tension and a fear that I might say or do something offensive or embarrassing.  When white people made blatant racist jokes or remarks, I felt upset but had no idea what to do or say.  I didn’t understand why, if laws supporting slavery, segregation, and discrimination had been abolished, lifestyles still looked so different across color lines.  Most confusing were unwanted racist thoughts that made me feel like a jerk.  I felt too embarrassed to admit any of this, which prevented me from going in search of answers.  It turns out, stumbling block number 1 was that I didn’t think I had a race, so I never thought to look within myself for answers.”

CA-CHING!  It’s that last sentence that got me.  As one in the majority race, I tended to think of race as something everyone else had—Asian, African American, Indian, Latino—you get the idea.  “White” or “Anglo” really wasn’t “race.”  

Now, I am aware some of you may be beyond this thinking—and I am glad for that!  You can help those of us who need to catch up.  I am looking forward to reading Waking Up White.  For me, it is going to be challenging and eye opening.   A number of you have already expressed interest in this and here’s my suggestion of how we’ll gather around it.  Add Waking Up White to your summer reading list.  Let me know if you need help buying the book and let me know you’re reading it.  In September, we’ll begin conversation groups around our reading.

Irving’s book is a compliment to the Belhar Confession, the most recent Confession in our Book of Confession.  The mental image that keeps running through my mind is from Sunday—Elizabeth Bull holding up the printed copy as she’s offering witness to what our future ministry should be.  Racial reconciliation, inclusion and equality, speaking truth to power—it’s all there.  How does this new confession frame and guide our conversation about future ministry?  Should it frame and guide our conversation?  Intentionally digging into the confession is the only way to find out!  

This study will also begin in September.  A copy of the confession can be found here.  Add this to your summer reading list as well.  And let me know if you’re reading this too.

So, what’s the discernment about here?  For me, it has to do with that edgy, uncomfortable feeling—I’m being invited to consider something new, to change my outlook or behavior.  From my perspective so much of what is happening in our country and in the church has to do with our inability, unwillingness to address the issue of race.  I, for one, am tired of feeling inadequate and apprehensive about participating in that conversation and working to bring about change.  A first step for me is to educate myself and work to understand my own thoughts and reactions.  I invite you to join me.

Blessings,
Sharon

Friends, this Sunday, April 22 is Earth Day! We have planned a special time for our congregation, neighbors and friends to gather at our garden space at 11:00 a.m. after our congregational gathering at the Chapel of the AUMC.

We will gather for our Congregational Gathering at 10:00 a.m. and hear an update from the various ministry teams including Welcome, Nurture, Serve, Proclaim. Each team will have something to share. We will do this woven into our worship together.

At 11:00 a.m., we will head to the garden at Lincoln and 9th Street South and continue our worship with a time of prayers and blessing followed by putting our Faith into Action with trowels and paint and trash bags! This will be a day of celebration and working together to beautify our garden space.

Many of you have signed up to bring things - please remember what you signed up for! (email me if you need a reminder)  Everyone should bring a camp chair or something to sit on. Please bring your own water to drink. And we could use a watering can or two. Let me know if you have a card table you can bring and/or a tarp for the ground. Feel free to bring some food to share. We will have coffee, some garden tools (bring yours if you have some).

Please wear your garden work clothes to church!

If you have any questions, please get in touch with me. I am looking forward to our time together and hope for a beautiful spring day for our gathering. (FYI, if necessary, our Rain Date will be Mother's Day, May 13).

Here is another opportunity to experience Blessed Community with our friends and neighbors!

APAH Breaks Ground on Gilliam Place

73 New Affordable Homes Advance a Faith-Filled Vision Arlington, VA (July 28, 2017) – Yesterday, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) broke ground on its newest project, Gilliam Place, which will be located at 3507 Columbia Pike in Arlington. Gilliam Place emanated from Arlington Presbyterian Church’s (APC) vision to put their faith into action and property into mission service. Gilliam Place will provide 173 new committed affordable homes for lower income individuals and families. Nearly 9,000 square feet of civic/retail space will enliven the neighborhood and expand opportunity for the Columbia Pike community with a mix of non-profit tenants. Read More at APAH

Glebe Bannera

“I am about to do a new thing: now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” – Isaiah 43:19

We are moving forward with our Vision.  This page will keep you up-to-date on the latest happenings around living into our Vision at Arlington Presbyterian Church.  To follow our journey or to join us, click on a link below.  The most recent events are at or near the top.