Social Justice and Advocacy

The movement toward understanding racism and developing ways to continue healing discussions and activities is alive and well during the 2020-21 pandemic. In recent months, Grace Church members and clergy have participated in Zoom book discussions, attended rallies for Black Lives Matter, and have been actively addressing social injustice issues on Sunday mornings.

‘Striving Toward God’s Beloved Community: Conversations about Race, Privilege and Baltimore’ are book/discussion groups led by Rev. Amy McCullough, which began in the fall of 2019. The groups read selected books that address one or more of the topics of race and privilege; the goal of reading, sharing and listening is to increase  understanding of our history, our compassion for the diverse stories alive in our midst, and our ability to see Jesus’ face in one another.

The current title for discussion is Isabel Wilkerson’s book, Caste, and Zoom sessions are on Tuesdays, October 5 and 19, November 2 and 16 at 7 pm. Please email Rev. Amy for details and Zoom information.

Other materials used in the Racial Justice Discussion Group series include:

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, paired with “Hope Born Out of History”, a video resource from the Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church.

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo formed a series of discussions.

Rallies for the Black Lives Matter and Standing in Solidarity were attended by Grace members and friends, with others from over 20 houses of worship and non-profits (masked and socially distanced) in February, August, September and October 2020.

Grace members and clergy also took part in a peaceful anti-racist protest in Roland Park, generated by racist comments from a motorist, directed toward Roland Park students .

Dr. Arthur Sutherland, Grace’s Theologian-in-Residence, used MLK’s “The Content of our Character” theme for the basis of a sermon,  and he led a town hall discussion, “Thinking About Hospitality in the Time of the Coronovirus”.

On June 7, the sermon was replaced by a discussion of race, justice and faith with Pastor Dane, Carolyn Young, our Director of Children’s Ministries, and her son, Kirk Kirby. The value of listening to Kirk and Carolyn describe navigating their entire lives as Black people was immeasurable.

Our Courageous Conversations About Race will continue via Zoom well into 2021.

During 2020, the book discussions were on Zoom, and they will be in 2021 for several months. The questions we continue to consider are  how do we live and work together as black, brown, and white people of faith, fostering a deep sense of community and inclusion at Grace? How do we stand together to fight against racism? In what ways will we act? Please join us on this journey.

Background: The Social Justice and Advocacy Committee formed in 2017, arising out of the Church Council’s desire to develop ministries that respond to the challenges of being a Christian witness in an unjust world and to promote awareness of the systemic issues that hinder human flourishing and common life.

The committee’s first action was to host the presentation “Civility in our Age” by Dan Buccino, who is leading the Hopkins Civility Initiative that has been operating since 1998. In the past year, the committee has explored working with the Family Mentor program of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) of Maryland, sent members to the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference in Washington, DC, researched housing issues and legislation related to housing in Baltimore and learned about the funding formula for public education in Maryland. They are currently developing initiatives to impact the treatment of immigrants at our borders.

In the summer of 2018, Grace held a series of ‘vital conversations’ around race and privilege. Members sought to create ways in which a faith community might begin to talk about race together and work toward a beloved kingdom of sisters and brothers that is God’s kingdom.

If you would like to learn more or become involved in Grace’s Social Justice and Advocacy work, please contact Rev. Amy McCullough.