With the troubling and painful events of the last several years—from the killing of numerous unarmed Black men and women at the hands of police to the rallying of white supremacists in Charlottesville—it is clearer than ever that the reconciliation paradigm, long favored by white Christians, has failed to heal the deep racial wounds in the church and American society. In this provocative book, originally published in 2014, Jennifer Harvey argues for a radical shift away from the well-meaning but feeble longing for reconciliation toward a robustly biblical call for reparations.
by Nikole Hannah-Jones & the New York Times Magazine
This is a book that speaks directly to our current moment, contextualizing the systems of race and caste within which we operate today. It reveals long-glossed-over truths around our nation’s founding and construction—and the way that the legacy of slavery did not end with emancipation, but continues to shape contemporary American life.
Newlove is a name that has come up in our announcements and prayers. This is some of his story:
Newlove Atiso was born in Ghana, West Africa, the second of three sons, who were followed by two daughters, five children in all. Newlove received his name from his father Bob, and he later took a middle name, Bobson, to honor his father. His mother came from a village in the neighboring country to the east, Togo.
When Newlove visited Togo as a tourist, he felt at home. He decided to move there and work for the needs of the poor. In 2008 he learned about People to People International, which was founded by Pres. Dwight Eisenhower to foster personal contacts around the world. Newlove and his friends founded the PTPI-Togo chapter in the capital city of Lomé. Soon after that, Newlove asked PTPI for a sister chapter in the U.S., and the Los Angeles chapter answered the invitation. (I was president of the chapter then, and Leslie Kearney is the president now.)
Our first project together was to repair a school roof that had literally collapsed onto children in a country village. Half of the money came from LA, and PTPI-Togo volunteers did all of the labor. (The school’s neighbors would not work without pay.)
In 2014 our members Joan and John spent a week in Togo, enjoying overflowing hospitality. Among many adventures, they saw the school roof, built back better than new. Beyond that, a Swiss official had recognized the volunteer work and had caused the construction of a sturdy new building with two much-improved classrooms. Then, a Turkish foundation learned what was going on and contributed a well and a water pump so that the children always have clean water to drink. All of this happened because Newlove’s big heart had responded to children in need.
In the years since then, another member of PTPI-LA, Natalie Besse, visited Togo and Ghana and personally underwrote a library and a water storage unit. Also, we heard from a PTPI member in Delaware, Ed Tucker. Ed visited West Africa on a cruise and, having only one day in Lomé, sought out the PTPI chapter and became a friend and supporter of Newlove. The Delaware chapter raised $2,300 to buy school supplies and pay school fees for poor children in Togo.
Newlove stays in touch by emails and short phone calls, although both are unreliable and expensive. He is a passionate advocate for poor children, hoping that they can bring about a better time.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused us to look at our various ministries and adapt them to the realities of the time. We have had a longstanding relationship with The Samaritan Center in Simi Valley and have been active participants in their Community Dinner program. Gathering for meals at our church property posed a health risk, but we wanted to continue to serve the community during the current public health crisis.
Every month, the $65 we would have used to provide a Community Dinner is designated for the Center along with any new donations we receive for the Community Dinner Fund that month. A volunteer offered to be a buyer for items that The Samaritan Center need and have difficulty locating.
“We cannot be silent as one more black person is murdered unjustly, and the nation erupts with both anger and deep sorrow. We are called to recognize once again systemic racism, especially in law enforcement, by evoking the names of murdered George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn.; Ahmaud Arbery in Glenn County, Ga; Breionna Taylor in Louisville, Ky.; Eric Garner in New York City; and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. … We cannot remain silent. God calls all of us to speak out. As Christians, Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. God created and loves people of every color. And yet we create economic, political, and social barriers that oppress African Americans in every sector from housing and education to healthcare and criminal justice. The COVID-19 pandemic magnifies these disparities. We know that black and brown people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. This moment calls us all together to speak up, stand up and show up.“And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness” (Acts 4:29). This is our time to show our solidarity with all who live at the margins of our country because of their identities. We are called now to build a strong anti-racist commitment in our church so that we can show that Black Lives Matter in the kingdom of God. It is time to see ourselves as God sees us. Jesus is risen and alive in each one of us. May we use that strength to be agents of change.”
Anti-Racism Resources Document to Share with Family and Friends
This document is intended to serve as a resource to white people and parents to deepen our anti-racism work. If you haven’t engaged in anti-racism work in the past, start now. Feel free to circulate this document on social media and with your friends, family, and colleagues.
This list is designed to celebrate all the ways that our communities can engage in liberation. By and for those in our communities who can’t be in the streets, we offer a list of concrete ways that we are in the movement, and that we are supporting liberation every day
According to the NY Times: “The goal of The 1619 Project is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year. Doing so requires us to place the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country.”