The Class: Removing the Blinders of Prejudice in the Church

This is the syllabus for the class we held at Imago Dei Community in April and May 2008:

Class Overview:

We all struggle with prejudice—pre-judging people. Even in the church, we distort and minimize those whose stories and experiences are different from our own, as we view them through our limited cultural lenses. We need to see others rightly from God’s global kingdom perspective. This 8 week class hosted by a group of Christ-followers from Imago Dei will develop further the themes addressed during the “Are You a Passive Racist?” forum led by Paul and Mariko Metzger at Evangel Baptist last November. The aim of the class is to share God’s kingdom vision where God invites all of us and incorporates each of our stories into Christ’s story through the Spirit. Building on the biblical story where God invites all of us to participate in his story, we need to invite others whose experiences are different from our own to share their stories so that we can move beyond the pain, victimization, and isolation associated with prejudice toward healing, victory, and hope. As our eyes are opened as we listen in love, we hope to move from racial, ethnic, and cultural prejudice to just forms of perception as we look through God’s eyes as viewed through Christian Scripture.

Ground Rules:

*Stay engaged: Participants should do everything possible to come to all classes as these 8 weeks are a relationship building exercise.*Be prepared to experience discomfort: You may experience guilt, sorrow, conviction, followed (possibly) by repentance, renewal, greater self-awareness, and a heightened appreciation for God and one another.*Speak your truth in love: Truth can be objective and scientific. But it can also be personal and passionate. It can be complex, reflecting pain, anger, disbelief, or even ambiguity as a result of encountering unfamiliar experiences. If all truth is God’s truth, then God’s truth includes crying truth, stuttering truth, expressing truth with uncomfortable pauses, and even angry truth. Make sure to express hard truths, and also to express them in love, seeking to build up one another.Listen well: It’s so easy to write off those whose experiences are different from our own. Listen well to others as they share their experiences. Good listeners are often God’s healing agents.*Expect and accept non-closure: Sometimes offenders have to give time to victims to heal before they can experience full reconciliation and move forward. No one in this class should expect closure for racism on the macro level at the end of the class; if anything, our hope is that we will all come away more sensitized to racism and other forms of prejudice, becoming more effective agents of reconciliation.Sense your own brokenness and need for God: We are all victimizers and victims, depending on the contexts in which we find ourselves. Accept one another, seeking reconciliation with God and with one another.*Four of the points listed above as ground rules were adaptations of points made in the book, Courageous Conversations about Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools, written by Glenn Eric Singleton and Curtis Linton (Corwin Press, 2005)

Select Resources:

Mark DeYmaz, Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church: Mandate, Commitments and Practices of a Diverse Congregation, J-B Leadership Network Series (Jossey-Bass, 2007).Curtiss Paul DeYoung,Michael O. Emerson, George Yancey and Karen Chai Kim, United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation As an Answer to the Problem of Race (Oxford, 2004).Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith, Divided By Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (Oxford, 2001).Martin Luther King, Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. Clayborne Carson (Grand Central, 2001).Charles Marsh, The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice, from the Civil Rights Movement to Today (Perseus, 2006).Paul Louis Metzger, Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church (Eerdmans, 2007).John M. Perkins, Let Justice Roll Down, 30th Anniversary Edition (Regal, 2006).Spencer Perkins and Chris Rice, More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel, Revised and Expanded (IVP, 2000).Glenn Eric Singleton and Curtis Linton, Courageous Conversations about Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools (Corwin Press, 2005).Richard Twiss, One Church, Many Tribes: Following Jesus the Way God Made You, Revised Edition (Regal Books, 2000).Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Free To Be Bound: Church Beyond the Color Line (Navpress, 2008).Other helpful works include significant works of literature, such as the following: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man; Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird; and John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Other important sources include the following films: The Color of Fear, Crash, Eyes on the Prize, Race—the Power of Illusion, and Unfulfilled Dreams.Removing the Blinders of Prejudice in the Church©2008, Paul and Mariko Metzger and Imago Friends

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