Conversations Around Race, Privilege and Faith Continue at SPC

“Antiracist effort is not optional for Christians. It is an essential aspect of Christian discipleship” So declares the churchwide antiracism policy adopted by the 2016 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, USA, entitled Facing Racism: A Vision of Intercultural Community. This unambiguous call to all churches in our denomination to grapple boldly and honestly with race and racism was reiterated and strengthened at the 2018 General Assembly, with the formation of the Special Committee on Racism Truth and Reconciliation, launching a new denomination wide listening campaign around race.

In response to this call from our denomination, the SPC Adult Education and Formation Committee--in collaboration with our Social Justice Committee--is pleased to announce that we will join our denomination in continuing our conversations around race and racism this semester. Among other things, we will explore together Jennifer Harvey’s prophetic and challenging book Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation.

To set the stage and provide some immediate context for this next round of conversations, we will begin this series with two introductory sessions on where we’ve been and where we might be headed. This will include an introduction to the Equal Justice Initiative and its Community Remembrance Project, and a discussion of some of the ways that SPC has been contributing to local efforts in support of these projects. The series begins on January 19 at 9:45. All are welcome and childcare will be provided.


SPC launched a series of introductory conversations around race and racism in 2016, in response to the denomination’s call.
Our initial series offered an introduction to the topics of race, bias, privilege, history, and theology. We continued in 2017 with an in depth exploration of our own racial identities and the implications of white supremacy through the book Waking up White by Debbie Irving. We also inaugurated a year- long “Faith and Film” series that offered to both church and community the documentaries “13th” and “I Am Not Your Negro”, as well as the films “Selma” and “Get Out”. In addition, we hosted a forum featuring the award winning film Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North, which included a dialogue and workshop led by film maker Katrina Browne.

In the Spring of 2018, to celebrate our 275th anniversary as a community of faith we engaged a weekend-long anti-racism training series led by Jessica Vasquez Torres and Crossroads Anti Racism Organizing and Training. This weekend provided an in-depth exploration of ways that systemic racism creates barriers to true multicultural diversity and racial justice, in our lives, and in institutions, especially the church. Torres encouraged us to keep exploring in depth our 275 year communal history around race in order to engage in truth telling and confession, lament and grief in order to free us to move toward healing and an authentic antiracist and multicultural identity. This work is ongoing.

Looking Ahead

Our next series of conversations will be based on the book Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation by Jennifer Harvey. We will preface these conversations in two introductory sessions, with conversation partner Brian Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and author of the book Just Mercy. We will offer some background material on the EJI, and specifically its Community Remembrance Project which focuses attention on the history of lynching in America. This project is one real and encouraging example of communal truth telling, confession and lament that is happening across the country, including in our community with the support of people from SPC.

Our seminar schedule is as follows:

1/19 Introduction Part 1 Background and Tedtalk with Brian Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI): We Need to Talk about an Injustice

1/26 Break -- Open Conversation with Pastor Gusti

2/2 Introduction Part 2 EJI’s Community Remembrance Project, the lynching museum, and local efforts to confront our racial history

2/9-3/29 Dear White Christians by Jennifer Harvey


In addition to Harvey’s book, we recommend that folks who may not have been part of our previous conversations read Irving’s book Waking Up White.

The EJI’s full report on lynching is available for download here:

TaNehisi Coates article on reparations also provides helpful background to these conversations, and can be downloaded here:
Additional resources include:

America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America by Jim Wallis.
The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Ethel Hornbeck Director of Spiritual Formation and Campus Ministry