Sacred conversations in central Ohiohttp://dsoconnectthedots.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/sacredconvo.jpg750500Connect the Dots!Connect the Dots!http://dsoconnectthedots.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/sacredconvo.jpg
St. Mark’s, Columbus, rector, the Rev. Dr. Paul St. Germain, was thinking that St. Mark’s, too, needed to be involved in racial justice and reconciliation work, and asked parishioner Nadya Richardson to spearhead the effort. St. Philip’s rector, the Rev. Charles Wilson, reached out to St. Mark’s to join the group, which now also includes St. John’s, Worthington, and the First Unitarian Universalist Church, represented by the Rev. Kathleen Fowler.
Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice has an organic approach to its monthly meetings, using a shared leadership model and a discussion topic planned for each meeting. Conversations often flow outside the specific topic and are encouraged. Venues are rotated to experience each other more fully. Past meetings have screened both the documentary 13th and the film, I Am Not Your Negro.
The group’s most recent gathering in August attracted 41 attendees for a presentation by Professor Joan Ferrante from Northern Kentucky University. According to Dr. Ferrante, the expected outcome of her documentary Mourning the Creation of Racial Categories is to “create art and language that will move audiences to mourn, then to change people’s assumptions about who we are. We believe changing assumptions is the first step toward transforming the way we perceive race and go about interacting with different race-labeled peoples. This transformation prepares us to work through the real problems that are the legacy of racial categories.”
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. created a vision of the Beloved Community, as one not without conflict, but where conflicts end with reconciliation of adversaries cooperating together in a spirit of friendship and goodwill. How has the Sacred Conversations group grown toward this vision? Members have said that stories too painful to tell at first are now shared comfortably because of the deep relationships that have taken root. Another member shared that by looking deeper into ingrained or learned, but unaware, categorizing of other people allows them to combat biases. Other comments include that this group, while tackling difficult topics, is a supportive place where we come together in mutual respect to share, learn and grow. By growing together in community, we receive the strength and courage needed to “go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”
Submitted by Nadya Richardson, Jim Keyes and Dot Yeager, parishioners of St. Mark’s, Columbus.
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Charles Wilson and I were shooting the breeze at a clergy conference. He was then rector of St. Philip’s, Columbus and I was then rector of St. Andrew’s, Pickerington a suburb of Columbus. Between the two of us we got this hair-brained idea for one of these parishes to surprise the other of these parishes on a Sunday morning in a “Flash Mass”. One parish would show up at the other parish’s principle Sunday service without telling them!
Instead of letting the idea float carefree away from our brains we actually held on to the idea, kept talking about it, and even better actually ended up doing it!
Next came the planning. Comparing calendars, we noticed that on Saturday February 6, 2016 St. Philip’s was hosting a large conference on Racial and Social Justice. St. Philip’s is a predominantly African-American Episcopal parish and was the host of the conference. It made sense to plan the Flash Mass to be the following day and to have St. Andrew’s – a predominantly white Episcopal parish – travel to St. Philip’s for it! Therefore Sunday, February 7th at 10:30 was the principle service of worship for St. Philips BUT it became the same place and time for the principle worship for St. Andrew’s too!
Senior wardens and music directors were brought into the planning. Hymns were selected, bulletins compared, liturgical instructions were shared, St. Andrew’s car pools were arranged and secretive parking maps were distributed to St. Andrew’s parishioners. St. Andrew’s did NOT put the location of the Flash Mass into its announcements so as not to tip off anyone at St. Philips. All Sunday announcements at St. Andrew’s were general until the day of.
On Sunday, February 7, 2016 St. Andrew’s brought its parish banner, two acolytes, 75 photocopies of the processional hymn, a 10:00 congregation and a hushed tone. After the St. Philips choir and altar party processed in, St. Andrew’s was right behind them. People in the pews turned around to see from where all these other voices were coming and began to smile when the St. Andrew’s banner become visible. The service was glorious and the hymn singing got the place swinging and swaying. St. Andrew’s stayed for coffee hour (the 8th sacrament). New friends were made, stories were shared and we all went home a little more like the Body of Christ.
The Rev Paul Williams, Subdean of Christ Church Cathedral, former Rector at St Andrew’s, Pickerington