Thursday, April 01 2021
The Good Friday service “Stations of the Cross” program, created by A Sanctified Art, highlighted connections between the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the unjust murders of Black people like Emmett Till, and the pain of Jesus’ mother Mary and the pain of other mothers who have lost their children to violence.
Four weeks ago, this same material was used at the online Women’s Days Apart: Again & Again retreat, organized by UMW unit leadership (including me) and hosted on Zoom. Unit Education Coordinator Genne Yarne researched and presented the story of the killing Emmett Till, the innocent 14-year-old Black boy who was tortured and murdered in 1955 after he was accused of offending a white woman in her family’s grocery store. Deb Streff, unit Social Action Coordinator, presented the “Stations of the Cross,” using the same base material as the Good Friday Service but adapted to our use on Zoom with various additions of art and information.
We acknowledge that racial injustice is not a relic of the past, but ever-present today. As a follow-up to the retreat, we, the organizers, challenged participants to choose an action to complete by Easter Sunday. As for myself, I chose a few actions. One was to visit the African American Museum of Iowa with my family to see their latest exhibit about activism. The other was to make a donation. I chose The Loveland Foundation, which funds therapy for Black women and girls. I will continue to take steps toward educating myself and supporting racial justice and anti-racism.
Pray for God to open your eyes, heart, and mind to the realities of racism.
Pray for those harmed by racial injustice.
Pray for our church, community, country, and world, to change our ways towards justice, and for healing and reconciliation.
Read a book on the United Methodist Women’s Reading Program book list (https://www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/readingprogram), on your own, or join a book club (contact Nancy AntonJensen).
Read White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, a book discussed by Deb Streff in her “Stations of the Cross” presentation.
Read the Racial Justice Charter created by UMW: https://www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/racialjusticecharter
Visit The General Commission on Religion & Race website to learn about their work holding the United Methodist Church accountable in its commitment to reject the sin of racism in every aspect of the life of the church, and to find many resources for further learning. https://www.gcorr.org/
Shop at Black-owned businesses. Search online with the name of your city plus “black business”. (Here’s a list of area Black-owned restaurants: https://littlevillagemag.com/black-owned-restaurants-in-the-iowa-city-cedar-rapids-area/ )
Influence your circle, social club, workplace, or church programming to hire Black speakers and read Black authors, or to do a study on racial injustice.
Follow Advocates for Social Justice on Facebook. Watch their page for events and requests for action. The mission of ASJ is to create social, political, and environmental change within the Cedar Rapids community, prioritizing the objectives of the #BLM movement. https://www.facebook.com/ASJBLM
Visit the current “Unwavering: 21st Century Activism” exhibit on activism and protest.
African American American Museum: https://blackiowa.org/
55 12th Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401
Donate to the Innocence Project, highlighted in the “Stations of the Cross” program--the organization working to exonerate wrongly convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system. https://innocenceproject.org/
Donate to the Advocates for Social Justice, whose mission is to create social, political, and environmental change within the Cedar Rapids community, prioritizing the objectives of the #BLM movement. https://www.asjblm.org/
Stephanie Heifner is a lay member of St. Paul’s UMC and serves as the Spiritual Growth Coordinator for the St. Paul’s United Methodist Women unit. She also facilitates Create Night and is co-chair of Be Healthy. Be Green. Committee. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .