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The end of May marked important anniversaries in the history of racial injustice. May 25 marked the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd by officer Derek Chauvin. May 31 and June 1 marked the hundredth anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre. Below are some resources to help you reflect on these events and learn more.

I've been thinking about the word restoration a lot lately. It's a word that brings to mind healing, repair, making things right, and wholeness. As we pursue racial justice and reconciliation, what would it look like to put our focus on the idea of restoration?

The word restoration first jumped out at me during a sermon Pastor Scott Dudley preached on May 16.  He said, "God's kind of justice is always about restoration, not retribution and revenge… restoration of what was lost or stolen or broken or hurt or wounded for individuals, but also for entire communities."  What a beautiful way to think about justice!

By Heather Hedlund

Paul often compared the Christian life to running a race. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 he says, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." As we've learned in the last few months, God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. This is the race he has assigned us to run, and it's not a sprint, it's a life-long relay.

Have you ever had someone apologize to you, but you weren't sure they really meant it? Was that apology healing for you, or did it leave you angry and confused? I think John the Baptist may have felt this way when the crowds came out to be baptized by him. When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming, he said, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance" (Luke 3:7-8) I think he was skeptical of the sincerity of their repentance. He challenged them to follow up their statement of repentance with actions that proved they meant what they said. We show the sincerity of our repentance when we work to fix what's broken.

by Heather Hedlund

I don't know about you, but I was really happy to say goodbye to 2020 and ring in a brand-new year. So many things in 2020 felt off-course, and the new year brings a chance to set a new course, a new trajectory.  The next step in our exploration of racial reconciliation is all about changing course.

We've been using the acronym GAPS as a framework for the important elements of racial reconciliation.  The G stands for "Go to the person you're in conflict with," and we talked about the importance of having relationships with people of races or ethnicities different from our own.  The A stands for "Admit your part of the conflict," and we looked at the importance of telling the truth about our history. The P stands for "Pray," and we've spent a lot of time on this section. 

In my journey to understand and try to live out racial reconciliation, there has been one step that I think was key to my progress: admitting my own racism. I remember vividly the moment it became personal. For several years, my understanding of the persistence of racism had been growing through personal relationships with people of color, through news reports, and through magazine articles and books, and I was starting to recognize that racism was a real thing that people of color were experiencing regularly. But I hadn't yet implicated myself.

It's that time of year. The Pumpkin Spice Latte returns to Starbucks and suddenly pumpkin spice products are popping up everywhere you turn. This year, you can even find Pumpkin Spice Mac & Cheese. Last year at this time, my son Erik was attending Confirmation Class at BelPres. His favorite week was when Anthony Ballard came to talk to the group about justice. Anthony was sharing that racial reconciliation is a popular term and it feels really good, but a lot of people don't really understand all that it involves. We tend to want to jump ahead to the part at the end where we all get along and skip all the work it takes to get there. At which point Erik coined the term "Pumpkin Spice Reconciliation." It's ubiquitous and it makes you feel warm and fuzzy, but it's fleeting and there's not a lot of substance.

Our website has, among our resources, links to a report that looks at the violent history of lynching in America. One of the results of this era of racial terrorism was the Great Migration. Between 1910 and 1970, six million black Americans fled the South to escape lynching, unfair labor practices, and harsh segregationist laws. This summer, we invite you to join us in learning about this era by reading Isabel Wilkerson's award-winning history, The Warmth of Other Suns. Mark your calendar for a book discussion on the evening of Sunday, September 20.

In this post, we have a guest blogger, McAlister Merchant. McAlister was the first African-American student to graduate from an all-white Catholic boys high school in Chicago. He started there in 1957 on a scholarship, well before Martin Luther King Jr's efforts came to prominence. McAlister was at the pushing, shoving, bleeding edge of integration, but overcame his situation peaceably, successfully, and with grace.

The recent murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, brings to mind the ugly history of lynching in America. Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), defines lynching as "a racially motivated act of violence committed by two or more people where there is no accountability." Lynchings were brutal acts of torture, often in public, designed to terrorize black people. State and federal officials generally looked the other way. EJI has documented more than 4400 lynchings of black people in the United States between 1877 and 1950.

When we hear the name Malcolm X, a variety of adjectives comes to mind: black nationalist, Muslim, radical, civil rights leader, and for others, racist.

Few people who have an opinion on Malcolm X actually know that who he was in the beginning of his career, was dramatically different by his tragic end. His story is that of transformation. Malcolm, at his end, left the Nation of Islam and became a Sunni Muslim and was very publicly for the brotherhood of all people as God's creation.