By Chris Crass
Notes to a faith-based organizer on a proposal to their majority white denomination on ways to step up in these Black Lives Matter movement times:
Here are a handful of ideas to consider and build on:
1. Host a church-wide discussion on hanging a “Black Lives Matter” in front of the church, with a core of people ready to speak to why this should be done, including as many people who have formal and informal influence/power in the church. Hold discussion to raise awareness internally in the congregation and then hang the banner to show solidarity externally, and embolden the congregation to live into what that statement calls for.
2. Invite BLM leaders from your local community or near-by to give a sermon at the church and give the speaker an honorarium of between $500-1000, to be used by the speaker in whatever ways are most helpful for them (i..e no strings attached). Have church leaders promote this sermon and speak the week before about why this is will be an important service for the community, use it as an opportunity to build more public commitment of church leadership and congregation to BLM.
3. Encourage congregation to show up and participate in local/regional marches, demonstrations and vigils. Do build up congregational conversations, ask the minister or others with sway in the church to speak in the services the week before the march/action on how this is a moment to practice our faith in public. Do a prep training on going to marches/actions to help support those who have never gone before. Go as a group, pray/sing beforehand and after as a way of helping create church in the streets – to be powerful together for justice, to help build courage over fear, to help create a unity in our faith for BLM movement.
4. Encourage congregations to reach out to local BLM organizers and activists and offer the congregation as a free meeting and event space. This could also include the congregation providing food, childcare and other support for those meetings and events – which also creates opportunities for people in the congregation to be involved who might not want to to go to a march, but want to show up in other ways. And it’s a good way to build relationships between congregation and leaders/organizers in the BLM movement.
5. Encourage congregations to invite anti-racist/racial justice members of the denomination in their area/region to host congregational discussions on the BLM movement, sharing why they are involved and sharing ways others can be involved as well.
7. Encourage the youth and young adult networks in the denomination to hold regional trainings on anti-racist organizing to join in BLM movement.
8. Encourage the denominational leadership to find ways for leaders of color and white anti-racists within the church to officially represent the denomination as a whole at marches, rallies, and vigils, so that we are speaking as a united faith for BLM.
Let’s keep exploring and building, thank you for all the ways you’re bringing leadership to, and through, your faith.