Listening Session on Racial Justice: June 14 at 5pm

Pastor Laura, Session, and the Anti-Racism group’s leadership team invite members of the Western community to a listening session Sunday, June 14 at 5 pm.

We will reflect on the recent murder of George Floyd by police and the ongoing protests for racial justice that arose in response. We will also remember Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many other unarmed Black people whose murders are part of our country’s 400-year history of exploitation of Black people and the systems of racial oppression constructed and maintained by White people at the expense of people of color.

This gathering is an opportunity to listen to one another, say what is in our hearts, and invite the Spirit to be at work in our shared grief, anger and frustration. Everyone will have an opportunity to share their thoughts and suggestions by speaking or by using Zoom’s chat function, or by holding silence. In order to have enough time for everyone, we ask that you limit your shares to 2 minutes.

Below is an explanation of what this event is intended to be – and not to be, along with a set of commitments we ask everyone to keep in mind when participating – in your sharing and your listening.

Why this gathering?

  • To create a space for listening and understanding
  • To hear what we need to hear in order to be faithful in this time
  • To know how to respond
  • To help Westerners know they are not alone, that others share their concern, that God is at work
  • To “weep with those who weep”
  • To give space for the Spirit to be at work in our shared frustration/anger/grief

This gathering is not:

  • A therapy session, although we hope for healing
  • A lecture, although we hope for learning
  • A worship service, although we will trust in God’s presence
  • A how-to on ending racism, although we want this time to be part of our larger anti-racism work

When listening to and sharing with others, we will:

  • Speak the truth in love, recognizing that each person involved in the conversation is a child of God and a sibling in Christ.  We are grounded in grace, which means we will make mistakes, but that does not mean we are a mistake. Would I say to God what I am sharing with the group? Can I listen for God in what is shared by others?
  • Share in a way that seeks God’s will, and not just my own idea of what is right. I will use statements that begin with “I believe… I feel… Here is my experience or story….” I recognize God at work in my truth, and I know I don’t own the whole truth. I will avoid using the word “should” and making generalizations. I will listen to understand, not to respond; to what others share, and to moments of silence that may occur.
  • Remain in community with each other even in conflict, discomfort, or disagreement. Our shared unity does not mean uniformity, but finds strength in our differences, recognizing that we are stronger in the Spirit together. Our discomfort can be an opportunity for self-learning and experiencing God’s transformation.