The Church: Children, Race, and Reconciliation

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DATE RECORDED: July 7, 2015
DURATION: 1 hr 13 min 
PRESENTERS: Donna Banks, Melanie C. Gordon, Leanne Hadley, Lisa Schubert-Nowling, Lanecia Rouse Tinsley, Cindy Yanchury 


Join us for this thought-provoking web conversation on how we address race and reconciliation with our children through the teachings of Jesus Christ. These leaders in ministry in The United Methodist Church from across the United States and across generations will discuss their experiences with race and religion in their contexts. Each leader will offer important next steps as we continue to help our children address racial issues in our society through The Gospel.
 


The Church: Children, Race, and Reconciliation Companion Resource

As we help children to wrestle with good and evil in the world, there are a few misunderstandings that are essential to clarify. Children are resilient, but still need care. They are human beings who need a safe space to process difficult situations.  Children are not colorblind. They are human beings who embrace and celebrate differences. Children are not empty vessels. They are human beings who come to us with an innate sense of God. Responding to children with this understanding will allow us to offer children agency that comes with being beloved children of God. I gathered several ministers who have lived and ministered across the United States and internationally to share how leaders in ministry can model love of neighbor that is intentional and authentic.
 

DOWNLOAD The Church: Children, Race, and Reconciliation [PDF]
 



Pastors need to preach the lessons of these experiences from the pulpit.
- Donna Banks, North Carolina



 

 
  • Use the resources that are available “we don’t have to do this on our own”. Use worship to expose people to the rich and diverse worship practices of people who we see as different from us.
  • Invite other people into the pulpit so that they see that our lives are not just within a particular context. “Show the congregation a bigger world and a bigger God” than we can ever imagine.
  • “Pastors are empowered by the stories of the Bible.” Do not be afraid to preach the Gospel, and allow us to preach faithfully on the issues in the world. Do not back away from difficult discussions. There will be conflict, but look to our Social Principles as a reminder of our rich Methodist heritage. 
     


Remind members of the meaning of hospitality. 
- Cindy Yanchury, Minnesota




 
  • Be genuine and authentic. Offer a warm welcome to all people.
  • Be intentional about inviting people to serve and worship.
  • Offer real conversation about issues.
     


Empowerment is the key to reconciliation.
- Lisa Schubert Nowling, Indiana




 
  • “Children and youth should be embraced as ambassadors of reconciliation right here and right now. Paul didn’t say wait until you are eighteen.” Offer children frequent opportunities to learn about people who are different from them. Build partnerships with other churches and schools to create diversity.
  • “It is important for children to understand repentance.” Children easily understand what it means to hurt others. Offer them authentic conversation about our societal history and issues. Jesus gives us grace to begin to heal relationships right here and right now.
  • “Children respond to images,” so model inclusion with children.  The people in leadership during worship, the visuals of Jesus in the church and the media images impact how children value the lives of those who may not look like them.   
     


Use creative experiences to connect children to others who are unlike them.
- Lanecia Rouse Tinsley, Texas




 
  • Teach children about the beauty of diversity. Teach children our societal history. “This journey points to the places where faithful witness has made healing possible through justice and restoration.” Hearing and knowing our story will help shape the imagination and help children love their neighbors.
  • Be deliberate about exposing our children to different points of view and voices in worship, and ways of expressing our faith. “Draw from different voices that can speak to beauty rather than continuing to offer one cultural point of view.”
  • “Curate and create experiences where children can form authentic relationships with people” who do not look like them. Partner with other churches that also embrace diversity. Allow children the opportunity to play with one another, and invite the parents to engage with one another.
     


Creating a safe space for children supports their emotional security.
- Leanne Hadley, Kentucky




 
  • “Build Your Nest.” Some children will not need much to feel safe while others need a great deal of comfort, so create an environment that meets the needs of all. Make sure that our spaces are physically safe for children, and follow Safe Sanctuaries procedures. This is connected to their emotional safety.
  • “Create Baskets of Comfort.” Address the emotional levels of the children by first asking them what makes them feel safe, and then collect items and offer experiences that meet those needs. If a child asks you, “Am I safe here,” respond by asking what would make him feel safe here? It may be something as simple as a blanket, but that is important to the children.
  • “Create ritual.” Light a candle of hope each week that will offer children the opportunity to see that light shines in the darkness. Enter a time of prayer each week that offers children the space to pray for those who are hurting. When tragedies occur, they will already have the ritual of prayer to turn to.
     

RESOURCES

The Legend of the Valentine: An Inspirational Story of Love and Reconciliation by Katherine Grace Bond

Cain and Abel by Sandy Sasso

Children of God Storybook Bible by Desmond Tutu

Peace Begins with You by Katherine Scholes

Anger, Compassion, Forgiveness, Hope Fresh Air Series – UpperRoom Books

Web Chat – The Church: Children, Race, and Reconciliation (web chat archive is available at the top of this page)
 

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