Rev. Efrem Smith shared on Belovedness at our United in Freedom seminar on November 3, 2015 at Shiloh Temple International Ministries. Listen to Rev. Smith's talk or read a summary of his theological and biblical framework for advancing the Kingdom of God and being agents of transformation within the reality of the constructs of race and its impact in our communities.
During the United in Freedom workshop in the fall of 2015, we took a look at how community and relationships are key to overcoming racial division in the body of Christ. The floor was opened up for public confession. Participants worshiped together through singing and holding hands, making promises starting with “I will…”
A coalition of African American churches launched a grand endeavor on Thursday June 16, 2016 to combat gang violence and high unemployment rates in the black community. At a press conference, dozens of faith leaders in the African American community committed $100,000 to employ youth workers to intervene at the street level, recruit job coaches, and train leaders in trauma and mental health services.
It was standing room only at a community prayer service on Monday July 11, 2016, at Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis, in response to a week of deadly violence in our community and nation. More than 500 people came before God as a unified Body of Christ to lament, pray for peace, and to seek hope through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rev. Billy Russell of Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church and Rev. Jason Meyer of Bethlehem Baptist Church called for a night of prayer and unity that resonated with many in our Christian community which can so often feel divided based on denomination, race, creed, age, gender or neighborhood affiliation.
Our first Transform Ideas forum was The Timeless Call for Racial Harmony held on April 27, 2017 at Hope Community Church. Four local speakers addressed 225 audience members with ideas relating to both our nation’s history of racism and our present day reality of racial disparities in the Twin Cities.
On September 10, 2017 Bishop Richard Howell Jr., of Shiloh Temple International Ministries and Pastor Matthew St. John of New Hope Church hosted ‘Harmony: An Evening of Restorative Worship’ at Shiloh. The intent in gathering was both to highlight the previous 2017 Sankofa Journey in February and the fruit that has since developed. This week, eighteen pastors from the trip gathered with members of the community for an evening of fellowship, unity, and a shared joy in the Lord.
More than 350 people showed up to the afternoon and evening Rethinking Incarceration forums in May of 2018 to learn how Christians can help create a more restorative justice system. Dominique Gilliard taught about America’s history from slavery to Jim Crow to mass incarceration – a criminal justice system built on racial and social control. Gilliard urged the Church to harness their collective power and belief in the dignity of vulnerable people, and to advocate for the least of these by helping to transform the criminal justice system.
Rev. David Myles writes about the story of the three Hebrew boys (in Daniel 3) standing up to what they considered wrong in the face of the nationalistic, popular beliefs and practices. Rev. Myles likens the Hebrew boys' refusal to bow and worship the golden image King Nebuchadnezzar set up, to NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem. In the future, under a new national leader, Rev. Myles warns it could be Christians' religious fidelity and liberty that is being challenged based on similar arguments. "Is it possible that what you are supporting today will be used against you in the future in a similar or same manner?" "It might not only be kneeling in protest, but also kneeling in prayer that will be called into question," Rev. Myles argues.
Fifteen-hundred people from Minnesota’s faith communities attended the Do Justice Conference with Bryan Stevenson on November 8, 2018, and An Evening with Bryan Stevenson later that evening. Stevenson is an acclaimed civil rights attorney, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, and author of Just Mercy. He gave two addresses to a packed sanctuary at Christ Presbyterian Church on the need for Americans to pursue racial justice and reconciliation in our country. Stevenson encouraged the Church to work to change the narratives of our society and to stay hopeful, while challenging people of faith to position themselves in inconvenient and uncomfortable places.
At the “Just Church” workshop on November 8, 2018, Pastor David Myles, of New Hope Church and Christopher Brooks, of MERGE Twin Cities spoke on the Biblical foundations for being a church for all peoples. How we can be committed to fulfilling the Great Commission while also leading change in places of need, where the Lord has called us. Myles opened with the Biblical Mandate of why we are doing this for all people and Brooks finished with specific strategies for realizing this mandate.
Dr. Kenneth Young presented a compelling workshop called “What it Means to “Be In Christ” at the Do Justice Conference on November 8, 2018. Dr. Young is a systematic theologian at UNWSP. The workshop took an anthropological and sociological approach to looking at how the body of Christ is made up, and what it looks like when it is functioning for all people.
Dr. Karen McKinney, Biblical Studies professor at Bethel University taught the workshop “White Supremacy Distorted the Biblical Narrative” at the Do Justice Conference on November 8, 2018. She taught how the Anglo-Saxon Myth was born and how it impacted America's grand narrative. Dr. McKinney dug deep into four Biblical distortions used to propagate white supremacy ideology, and the construction of Whiteness. And offered actions steps for the oppressors and the oppressed.
America’s Education Inequality-Addiction was presented by Don Samuels at the Do Justice Conference on November 8, 2018. How America's bias mentality harms the education of African Americans. The history of withholding education from African American children, and other exclusionary measures that lead to inequality in America's education system. Plus what can be done to bridge the education gap?
Dr. Ruben Rivera shared that most dismantling racism efforts stall or never get off the ground. At our first Dismantling Racism workshop, held at Mercy Vineyard Church on January 24, 2019, Dr. Rivera offered 3 principles when embarking on racial reconciliation work.
In-group bias in Christianity is all too normal. Dr. Ruben Rivera taught at the second Dismantling Racism training at Wooddale Church on March 21, 2018 on how Christians are often regularly, however subconsciously bias. Dr. Rivera taught about the dangers of making our view of Jesus captive to our in-group culture. Dr. Rivera showed how Jesus blew up in-group/out-group bias, and continues to empower His followers to take in-group love and give it to the out-group.