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From Sue Tait, Director of Diocesan Resource Center:

Question: A few weeks ago, I heard Stephanie Spellers from the Presiding Bishop’s staff speak, and she mentioned a new curriculum for adults called “Sacred Ground.” What is that and how do I find out more about it?

Sue Says: “Sacred Ground” is a ten part series on race and reconciliation that considers “family histories and stories, as well as important narratives that shape  the collective American story.” The guiding star, according to the website, is “the vision of the beloved community – where all people are honored and protected and nurtured as beloved children of God, where we weep at one another’s pain and seek one another’s flourishing.”

Registration for the series is by group and once registered the group has free access to videos, films, and additional written materiel. Each group is led by a facilitator and ideally meets every two or three weeks. Videos are streamed (so a computer and internet access is necessary) and most readings are available as PDFs. The Resource Center has just purchased the two assigned books, which are also available at local libraries. For instance, the Seattle Public Library has both titles in a variety of formats.

Becoming that beloved community takes both knowledge and the courage to be vulnerable, as well as the willingness to expand one’s mind. For instance, Debby Irving, author of Waking up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race (305.8 Irv), recalls taking a class on racism and being shocked to be invited to look at her own culture. It had not occurred to her that she had a culture, “I thought white was the raceless race – just plain, normal, the one against which all others were measured.” Irving writes what one reviewer calls her “cringe-worthy story.” She is now a racial justice educator.

The other assigned book for this series is White Fragility : Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism (305.8 DiA). One of the reviewers notes, “While this is a powerful scholarly analysis of white fragility, it is also an invitation to engage in deep personal inquiry and collective change… to disrupt the patterns and relationships that have emerged out of long-standing colonial principles and beliefs.”  Chapter titles include “Racial Triggers for White People,” “White Fragility and the Rules of Engagement,” and “Where Do We Go from Here?”

Material is available to assist the groups: a facilitator preparation guide, a preparation guide for participants, how to organize a dialogue circle (there are three ways such groups might be composed), a course syllabus, and a film preview. For more information and in-depth introductory documents go to GETTING STARTED. There are also periodic webinars to support dialog circle organizers and facilitators and  past webinars are accessible on demand.

“Sacred Ground” is part of The Episcopal Church’s long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation, and justice in all aspects of our personal lives, our ministries, and our society. The series is especially designed to help white people talk with other white people, grounding the hard work in the call to faith, hope, and love.

The series was developed by author Katrina Browne, producer and director of the documentary Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North. Groups can register and begin at any time by following the link below.


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