Antiracism and Social Equity

  Antiracism and Social Equity  
It is entirely up to the American people whether or not they are going to face and deal with and embrace this stranger on whom they’ve relied for so long.  What white people have to do is to try to find out -- find out in their own hearts -- why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place.  If I’m not the nigger here, and you, the white people, invented it, then you have to figure out why.  The future of this country relies on that. - James Baldwin
I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO Thanks to all those who participated in the forum on I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO last Sunday, and a special thanks to those who facilitated, brought goodies, and/or handled the projection. For those who missed it, you can access the award-winning documentary through Amazon Prime or borrow the DVD from the local library.
BALDWIN AND COATES: LETTERS OF LOVE AND CAUTION Our next event continues with the words of James Baldwin. His letter to his nephew was a cautionary tale on what it meant to be a black man in America in 1962. More than a half century later, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote his award-winning book Between the World and Me as a letter to his teenage son. Join us to discuss excerpts from these letters on Thursday, October 19th at 7pm in the Ark and Dove Room. Both are available online.   
Please sign up in the lobby or contact Linnie at


I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO Film and Discussion, Sunday, October 1 from 2:30 - 4:30 pm in the Sanctuary  I Am Not Your Negro is a profound award-winning  documentary elucidating author James Baldwin's perception of race and inequality in modern America. The film is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and directed by filmmaker Raoul Peck.  The documentary will be followed by discussion, dessert, and an invitation to future opportunities. Please join us and invite your friends. Sign up in the lobby or ONLINE! Questions? Please contact Linnie Girdner at 410-999-7892 or


For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, 
    abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.
- Psalm 86:5

ABOUNDING IN STEADFAST LOVE After Charlottesville, we all are aware of the threat to God's dream for the world posed by white supremacists. PC(USA)'s official statement concludes with: "By God's grace may we remember the events in Charlottesville; repent of our acquiescence and failures; and renew our commitment to proclaim and live the good news of Jesus Christ. May that commitment lead us to stand against, speak against and work against racism and white supremacy, this day and every day." Be supported and encouraged in taking on this commitment by joining other Ark and Dovers. Questions? Please contact Paula Sparks at 443-623-1169 or to be a part of the Anti-Racism and Social Equity team and Social Justice Facebook group. If not now, when? Linnie Girdner, co-leader of the Anti-Racism and Social Equity Team
WE CHOOSE WELCOME Just in time for last Sunday's forum on refugees, PCUSA rolled out the We Choose Welcome Action Guide that provides tips and resources for welcoming refugees.

You can find it at:

Twenty-eight people watched the documentary
Salam Neighbor and engaged one another on the challenges and strengths of the people we vicariously met on the film. Afterward Debbie Arey, Ark and Dove's Refugee Welcome Team Leader, led the group to a hopeful place by laying out what we are preparing to do at Ark and Dove. If you missed this event, it is not too late to catch up. Salam Neighbor is available on Netflix, the brief video by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service can be found at, and you can contact Debbie at debarey(at)hotmail, if you want to inquire about the Refugee Welcome Team. Thank you to all who attended, brought delicious desserts, and helped make the forum a success. Linnie Girdner, Co-Team Leader, Anti-Racism and Social Equity Team


YOU'RE INVITED! Salam Neighbor: Movie & Discussion on Refugees This Sunday, July 16th from 6:30-8:30pm at Ark and Dove. We will discuss the plight of refugees and our call as Christians to welcome the stranger. The award winning documentary, Salam Neighbor, provides an intimate look into a Syrian camp in Jordan. Millions who flee war and persecution in their homeland end up in camps, often for years, unable to integrate into the new country, to earn a living, or to give their children a decent education. What can we do, and what are we already doing?  All are welcome in the conversation! Go to the evite at to sign up.

ANTIRACISM AND SOCIAL EQUITY:  Where are we fifty years later? Fifty years ago on April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his speech "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence" at the Riverside Church in New York. He was highly criticized for speaking out about the war and making connections among racism, materialism, and militarism. Exactly a year later he was murdered. His speech can be heard HERE. Or the text is available HERE.
This past Sunday, April 2, at the same Riverside Church, the Reverend William Barber II preached a sermon entitled "When Silence is Not an Option," building on the lectionary of the "dry bones." He spoke of how the themes that MLK raised have continued, and that what we see happening now is not an exception, but a continuation of patterns of oppression against the poor, and especially poor people of color. His inspiring sermon is available HERE.  We cannot be silent, but must speak out to "loose the bonds of injustice, let the oppressed go free" (Isaiah 58:6).
Linnie Girdner  
Co-Leader, Antiracism and Social Equity Team
FAITHFUL RESISTANCE Remember when we read The Last Week by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan as a Lenten study? The authors described how every act of Jesus’ last week was protesting Empire and speaking truth to power. In a society that had many who were oppressed and marginalized, Jesus modeled for us that acts of resistance ARE worship.

In Rick Ufford-Chase 2016 book, Faithful Resistance, we are reminded again that resistance is intrinsic to the teachings of the Gospel.  A former Moderator of the General Assembly of PCUSA and long-time peace advocate, he asks: “Is it possible for a church that has been at the heart of Empire for as long as we have to make a course correction and move intentionally from the center of Empire to the margins?”  He and other contributors address issues such as immigrants, race, LGBTQ, the environment, Christian education and mission. This is not about partisan politics, but rather about living the Gospel in our actions every day, reaching beyond our comfortable bubbles to those who are currently marginalized and oppressed.  As we move into the week where Resist is the word of intentionality in our current Lenten study, consider resistance as worship.

Linnie Girdner
Co-leader, Antiracism and Social Equity Team 


On March 6th, I went to the Maryland State House in Annapolis for an extraordinary event, marking the 160th anniversary of the Dred Scott decision. You remember the Dred Scott decision from school, I’m sure. Chief Justice Taney wrote in the majority decision:

In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show, that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument.... They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.

In recent years the descendants of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney and of Dred Scott have been working on repentance, reconciliation and forgiveness. On that Monday they did that publically in front of the statue of Taney that sits before the Maryland State House. Taney’s great-great-great nephew acknowledged the inexcusable wrong and how that wrong was the foundation upon which so much oppression was built.  Scott’s descendant thanked the Taneys for the “courage and grace” and offered forgiveness. Alex Haley’s grandson spoke, remarking on how just down the street from where we stood, his ancestor Kunta Kinta, arrived on Maryland’s shores, kidnapped and enslaved.  A white pastor offered a confession for the sins of the church in using Christianity to justify enslaving black people. It was a moving ceremony, but it was not just words. The Taney and Scott families founded a nonprofit to help others move forward on the path of repentance, reconciliation, and forgiveness.

History is not just dusty books. It is living memory and generational guilt as well as generational trauma. Confession and conversion are not simply words. For white folks like the Taneys to own their past and work, from their hearts, to make amends is a Christian example that hopefully many others will follow.

Linnie Girdner
Co-Leader, Antiracism and Social Equity Team


Advocacy Training Weekend
All are invited!

“Confronting Chaos, Forging Community – Racism, Militarism, and Materialism”

April 21-24, 2017 | Washington, DC

HERE for more details!


Stated Clerk signs amicus brief opposing President Trump's travel ban


February 16, 2017

Office of the General Assembly
Toya Richards
Director of Communications and Assistant Stated Clerk

The Reverend J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), joined other faith leaders Thursday in signing an amicus curiae brief filed with the United States District Court opposing the president’s executive order creating a travel ban.

The interfaith coalition of religious congregations, associations, and organizations united “to speak with one voice against the Executive Order issued on January 27, 2017, suspending the United States Refugee Admissions Program and halting entry into the United States by citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations,” the brief states. It was filed with the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York.

 “My participation in this brief reflects the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s historic commitment to welcoming refugees and demanding an immigration system free from discrimination,” Nelson says. “We continue to stand with the widow, orphan, and foreigner.”

The amicus brief supports a case brought by Hameed Khalid Darweesh, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi and others “similarly situated” after they were detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York immediately following President Donald Trump’s executive order issued to allegedly “protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States.”

The executive order and subsequent detainment of refugees and others legally vetted to enter the United States prompted protests at airports and cities around the country. The class action suit brought by Darweesh and Alshawi is accompanied by other similar cases moving through the judicial system at different levels.

The interfaith amicus brief urges the court to find the executive order unlawful, “recognizing the profound harm it wreaks on the mission, values, and religious freedom that we, as representatives of a broad range of faith traditions, hold dear.”

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), through its General Assembly, has passed more than 20 pieces of policy in support of refugees and refugee resettlement since 1947. Among those policies is a 2016 action to respond to the Biblical directive to provide for the stranger and the sojourner by advocating for and seeking to improve matters related to U.S. government resettlement policies.

More information on the PC(USA)’s engagement on immigration and refugee issues can be found online

NOW WHAT? In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. asked, “Where Do We Go from here: Chaos or Community?” Then, Dr. King challenged us to determine whether the nation would choose love or hate? Today we ask: “Now What?” Join us for a special event on MLK Day featuring PCUSA Stated Clerk, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II. We will launch a new chapter in our work toward racial justice and reconciliation within our church and our communities. This is a free event, including lunch, however, registration is required. Monday, January 16th, 11am to 2pm.

ANTIRACISM AND SOCIAL EQUITY Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community is the title of PCUSA’s Churchwide Antiracism Policy and the theme of our next small group study. We will explore the biblical foundations for antiracism work, understand the legacy of racism in the church and in the country, and grapple with how we move toward a “new creation” for our children and future generations. Using articles and videos that are free and easily accessible, preparation for the six weekly meetings can fit into any schedule. Join facilitator Linnie Girdner, beginning on Tuesday, January 10th at 7pm in the Ark and Dove Room. For more information, contact Linnie at 410-999-7892 or Look for the sign-up sheet on the bulletin board.
THE HOUSE WE LIVE IN On Nov. 20th, 30 people came to church to watch and discuss The House We Live In, Part III of the PBS Series Race: The Power of an Illusion. It was an eye-opener for many, making us aware of how little we know of our country’s systemic racism and its impact on generational wealth. If you missed this event, you can find the whole series on youtube. In 2017, we are planning a six week small group starting Tuesday, January 10 and expect to have forums with either films or speakers at least quarterly. We will keep you posted. If you would like to join the Antiracism and Social Equity Team, please contact Linnie Girdner at 410-999-7892 or or Paula Sparks at 443-623-1169 or       
Joining this conversation is more important than ever. 

PCUSA STANDS IN SOLIDARITY WITH STANDING ROCK Remember the VBS program many children attended called Water All Around the WorldHave you carried the message further with what we are learning about the value of water to those of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation? They, and others who have joined them, are being water protectors for themselves, their descendants, and the millions of people who depend on water from the Missouri River.  The water protectors have come to stop the company Energy Transfer from building the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline (DAPL), which violates treaty rights, destroys sacred sites, and would carry crude oil under the Missouri River, endangering the water supply.  They are engaging prayerfully and peacefully in the face of an escalating law enforcement reaction.

On October 31, 2016, PCUSA’s made clear that Presbyterians stand in solidarity with the water protectors.
PCUSA urges us to stand in solidarity with the water protectors. Those who cannot go to Standing Rock are encouraged to:

* Organize prayer services

* Provide financial support to the water protectors.  Make check payable to: Synod of Lakes and Prairies. Note on check: Dakota Access Pipeline Acct #2087. Send to Synod of Lakes and Prairies, 2115 Cliff Drive, Eagan, MN 55122. Make sure to include your name and address on the check unless already printed on it, so that you can receive confirmation.
* Contact public officials:
     o Call North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple at (701) 328-2200 to demand protections for protestors and an end to hostilities against them.
     o Call the White House at (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414. Tell President Obama to rescind the Army Corps of Engineers' Permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline.
     o Call the Army Corps of Engineers and demand that they reverse the permit for DAPL: (202) 761-5903.

For the full news release, see


For an understanding of the reasons the Sioux Tribe is bringing a lawsuit, this timeline is helpful:

In addition to recommendations by PCUSA, you can address corporate interests that are funding the pipeline; 17 banks are involved.  Banks are often more responsive to public pressure, so send letters to these. Please click HERE for contact information.  We also encourage you to contact executives of the companies that are building the pipeline:

Lee Hanse, Executive VP President Energy Transfer Partners 210-403-6455,

Glenn Emery, VP Energy Transfer Partners 210-403-6762,

Michael Waters, Lead Analyst Energy Transfer Partners 713-989-2404

Suggested text for contacting corporate interests and companies:  "The Dakota Access Pipeline desecrates sacred lands and has serious potential to damage the water supply of the Standing Rock reservation.  This is white power, domination and oppression at its worst.  We have a moral obligation to interrupt this injustice and redeem ourselves from 500 years of oppression, exploitation and attempted genocide.  I urge you to stop all work on the pipeline (for companies that are building)/or 'withdraw funding for the pipeline' (for banks) and work with Native Americans, government and the Army Corps of Engineers to find another route."

Please click to download the
2016 Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community Churchwide Anti Racism Policy
of the General Assembly of PC(USA)


GRACISM: GOD'S SOLUTION This past Sunday Linnie Girdner, David Sparks and I attended an enlightening discussion led by Dr. David Anderson, Senior Pastor of Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia, MD and author of Gracism: The Art of Inclusion.

Simply put, Racism is negative speech, thought, words and actions against people for no other reason than their color, class, or culture.  Grace is unmerited favor granted to all of us by God.  By combining racism and grace, Dr. Anderson defines Gracism as an extension of positive favor to other people regardless of, and sometimes because of, color, class, or culture. He sees Gracism as God’s solution to racism because it “focuses on race for the purpose of positive ministry and service” instead of negative purposes such as discrimination.  As we move forward together in our work toward dismantling racism and creating social equity, perhaps we can learn to be Gracists, moving beyond racism to extend God’s grace. 
Paula Sparks,
Co-Facilitator, Anti-racism and Social Equity.
I WILL LIFT YOU UP Lifting up the humble by assisting and elevating them toward success.

I WILL COVER YOU Protecting the most vulnerable among us from embarrassment and harm.

I WILL SHARE WITH YOU Opening up networks and resources to others who are systematically downtrodden, and refusing special treatment that may hurt them.

I WILL HONOR YOU Recognizing those who are the most humble heroes among us regardless of color, class and culture.

I WILL STAND WITH YOU Committing to stand with the weak... the majority committing to stand up for, and with, the minority.

I WILL CONSIDER YOU Having equal concern for our neighbors regardless of color, class or culture by considering their perspectives and needs.

I WILL CELEBRATE WITH YOU Rejoicing when the humble and less fortunate among us are helped.


ANTI-RACISM AND SOCIAL EQUITY Why did we change the name of our joint ministry team from Race and Reconciliation to Antiracism and Social Equity? First, this aligns us with the 2016 document Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community Churchwide Anti Racism Policy of the General Assembly of PC(USA). Second, we added Social Equity to state not only what we aim to dismantle, but also to define our end goal in positive terms. Third, we learned from Jim Wallis, the author of America’s Original Sin, and our own pastors, that reconciliation can only come after repentance and conversion.  

Is social justice a passion of yours? Are you interested in transformation rather than Band-Aids?  Then consider joining our team. No time to join our team, but still want to be involved?  Paula and David Sparks plan to facilitate a small group on Wallis’ book America’s Original Sin in the fall. Please consider signing up!

To equip ourselves as team co-facilitators, Paula Sparks and Linnie Girdner have been participating in a training course at Baltimore Racial Justice Action. It has been a challenging and rewarding experience. If you are interested in their trainings, check out their website at  The trainings fill up fast, but you can always get on a waiting list.

In hope for social equity,

Linnie Girdner,                  
Paula Sparks,
Co-Facilitators of the Joint Ministry Team on Anti-racism and Social Equity


FAITH AND ANTI-RACISM:  FORUM AND SMALL GROUP DISCUSSIONS On Sunday, October 2nd, Ark and Dove had it's fourth Anti-Racism Social Equity forum.  Our focus was to develop a common vocabulary so we could continue our discussions about racism, reconciliation and equity.  After going over some definitions of discrimination, racism, prejudice, implicit bias and other terms, we broke into small groups and talked about the role of faith communities in helping our nation to move forward with justice on this issue. 

Most of the definitions we used came from a resource that Baltimore Racial Justice Action provided to Linnie Girdner and Paula Sparks in a 28 hour course they took.  This two-page resource is entitled Defining the Terms (please see below).

I think we came away from the forum with a better understanding of the complexities of racism, and we came away with a sense that we should continue our work as a congregation on this issue of peacemaking, justice and equity.  Thank you to Linnie Girdner, Paula Sparks, Shelley Franklin, Kim Champagne, Christine Caulfield Noll, Alex Effiom,  Rebecca Bell Echols and Jon Nelson for their leadership.

~ Pastor Tim