MN Council of Churches to launch community process for truth telling, repair around the historic harms done to Native American, African American communities

The goal: To build a structure for racial equity in the church and the state and make repairs

The Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC’s) Board of Directors this week approved a Racial Justice Vision Statement and Rationale to begin a decade-long process to engage faith communities — and the community at large — in truth telling, education, and repair around the United State’s twin sins of slavery and Native American genocide.

This fall and winter, the Council will seek partnerships and create a plan, budget and timeline for moving forward. It plans to launch the public work in the first part of 2021.

With partners, this work will include naming and addressing the unjust and ongoing systems and structures that “have made Minnesota rank as a state with some of the highest racial disparities in the nation.”

With partners, this work will include “investing in repairing the damage done by racism in Black and Indigenous communities.”

“The response to the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests and unrest here in Minnesota suggests that this time could be different and there is reason to hope for real transformation,” the statement said. “For that to be true, MCC needs to step in with a plan that offers a leadership role for the Council to build a set of partnerships for a process over the next 3-5 years that can be sustained for up to ten years.”

MCC has a membership of twenty-five denominational communions and strong interfaith partners, and is well situated to lead the process for change. For a list of MCC board members, click here.

“Much of the work is on a larger scale beyond what an individual denomination could address on their own,” its statement said. “With MCC’s collective bandwidth and influence statewide, we are poised to do what no one else likely can or will.”

Healing Minnesota Stories is an initiative of MCC and will be a part of this work.

There is biblical precedent for confession (truth telling) and reparations, the Board’s statement said.

“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelites: When a man or a woman wrongs another, breaking faith with the LORD, that person incurs guilt and shall confess the sin that has been committed. The person shall make full restitution for the wrong, adding one-fifth to it, and giving it to the one who was wronged” (Numbers 5:6-7).

“Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much’” (Luke 19:8).

According to the MCC Board’s statement:

Truth telling must begin at home and complicity by faith communities in racial injustice and disparities must be declared and addressed. A truth telling process for the State of Minnesota will also be launched in various contexts at the State, regionally, and in cities and towns. Issues will include: policing, land, and racial equity in health, education, wealth, employment, housing, etc. …

Each MCC member denomination will pursue its own educational process for racial justice and equity work in conversation with MCC and other judicatories. …

MCC will build a coalition to call for, legislate, and deliver reparations to Black and Indigenous communities. This would be coordinated with the truth telling process. This restitution would include land and economic reparations.

The community will know if reparations are effective if there are “sharp and enduring reductions in racial disparities, particularly economic disparities … and a corresponding sharp and enduring improvements” in Black and Native American well-being.

The Board’s statement acknowledges that racism’s impacts reach beyond black and Indigenous communities. “As immigrants and refugees have arrived in Minnesota from Latin American, African, Asian, Arab, and other countries, they have also been directly impacted by the pre-existing structures that create inequity,” it said. “Focusing on the structures developed to support White supremacy and the discrimination against Black and Indigenous communities will also benefit others thus affected … even economically marginalized Whites.”

2 thoughts on “MN Council of Churches to launch community process for truth telling, repair around the historic harms done to Native American, African American communities

  1. Re: MN Council of Churches to launch community process for truth telling, repair around the historic harms done to Native American, African American communities.

    Hello! I am part of a small group of “ordinary” people in Grand Rapids, MN called the Community Action Team. Our community itself is mostly white, but our team includes one indigenous person (community college prof) and one black man (community college football coach). We are squarely in upper midwest Native American territory — Anishinaabe/Dakota land. The “CAT” team is one of several who is actively working with our indigenous and black neighbors on “truth telling & education” in our community. We work with the local superintendent of schools, the Chamber of Commerce, churches, and other similar groups in neighboring communities. We have produced and are now showing a film called Colored Lines about the challenges (racism) present in our very own community. Film by Alisi Styles and Benjamin Braff, A & B Productions.

    A closely related group, Circle of Healing, is working in partnership with a nearby Dakota community in particular on the same things, and recently on an accessible playground, conceived, planned, and partially built by the youth of that community (with professional and adult volunteer assistance and oversight). Very exciting!

    Both of these groups are extremely interested in the process you have announced, above. We are wondering if theRe is a way we can be involved with it. I don’t know if by “partners” you mean at the denominational leadership level, or also others who are committed to this work “on the ground.”

    Hoping to hear back from you!

    Best wishes,
    Joan Gunderman (joan.gunderman@gmail.com), for
    Community Action Team
    Grand Rapids, MN

    Like

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