Mountain Sky Conference: Where You Belong More
Submitted by Rev. Betty Nguyen, Courtney VonLindern
Multicultural and Advocacy Ministries Developer, Designer for NextGen, and Inclusiveness Ministries
Mountain Sky Conference of the United Methodist Church
I confess that I often stop in my tracks when I feel overwhelmed when something feels too big to engage in. I, like Moses, curious about that burning but not consumed bush, often hear God’s calling yet find excuses to push it away. I confess that I hide behind the veil of feeling unequipped and inadequate. I am reminded that God has been calling and will continue to call; perhaps I just need to say “yes” and trust that God will be there on the journey.
Many among us have engaged in antiracism work, but as I look forward, this is an opportunity for us as the Mountain Sky Conference of the UMC to say a collective “yes” because we believe in living into Beloved Community. When any part of our community is hurting, we have work to do. How can we look away? This will require us to learn from one another, share and listen deeply, dive into educational opportunities, open to, and participate in change. We might fall and trip along the way but let’s help each other get back up and keep at it as I believe in transformation.
Courtney VonLindern and I have curated a list of resources in hopes of providing ways for each of us to engage. There are many wonderful lists and resources out there, many of which influenced the document we are sharing with you. What we provided here is not complete, but it was created with our Conference in mind. The resources here can be used for personal engagement, but there are resources here specifically for church leaders to engage with congregations too. There are short videos and books that will require us to reread and rewatch to fully appreciate. Some are popular resources, others are ones we have found personally meaningful, and there are materials from our wider UMC connection. Please start by looking through this list and identify something that you will engage with. Once you are done, I encourage you to revisit and engage with more. It also might be meaningful to connect with others to join in this work together. In addition, I invite you to visit Discipleship Ministries for additional resources and worship ideas.
This list is just the beginning; antiracism work will require a lifetime commitment. Will you join me? I need you along this journey.
Here are a few words of encouragement from a few friends:
When I think of the Next Generation of ministry, I think of the ways in which it means to be truly welcoming and inclusive to everyone in our communities. Engaging with antiracism allows me to reimagine a world where we are living into the kingdom of God and be apart of the vision that God had always intended for us.”
-- Courtney VonLindern, Designer of NextGen and Inclusiveness Ministries
“Our young people are the here and now, but also our future. If we want a future full of love and equity then we need to be engaging the creators of our future with antiracism education. Our young people have the power to dismantle racism in our world, but it's up to us to equip them with the tools they need to do it.”
-- Ashley Given, Youth & Young Adult Ministries Director at Smoky Hill UMC
"As a privileged white male living in a majority white state, self education has been the only way I've become aware of how unchanged racism has been in our country since its founding. Learning and taking steps to become anti-racist and a true ally to the BIPOC community would not be possible without having access to so many sources online that share stories and information about racism and America and what needs to be done to combat it. More recent empowerment of black creators on online platforms has also been vital to my and many others' education on social justice and race-related issues."
– Isaac Nehring from Helena, MT
“I invite you to join with others to grow in an understanding of individual and systemic racism. But I invite you to do still more. Learning is an important first step, but then, may we together live into our baptismal vow, to "resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves". Literally, black and brown lives are at stake. May we do this hard work together, creating a world free from the sin of racism as we honor each person as the image of God they so beautifully reflect.”
– Bishop Karen Oliveto