Written by Shannon McAdam
Canada West Mission Centre Co-President
Every day at my workplace this month we’ve learned about a different Black Canadian who is outstanding in one way or another, and it has been an incredible way to celebrate Black History Month. There are so many amazing people who I’d never heard of before, and I wonder why I’ve never learned about them before. If we believe in the Worth of All Persons, why don’t we learn about all types of people?
Black History Month is a fitting time to reflect on what it is that makes White culture so dominant that we don’t learn about the contributions of those who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour. White Supremacy Culture might sound like a problem from far away or long ago, but it is prevalent in all of our lives, and runs against our belief in the Worth of All Persons.
I’ve found this website by Tema Okun to be really helpful in my own learning about what White Supremacy Culture is, how to recognize it (the “marks”), and ways to overcome it. The original article that Okun based the website around is a quick and easy read that I highly recommend. Click here to read the article.
For me, one of the most insightful “marks” of White Supremacy Culture that Okun talks about is “One Right Way”. This is the idea that there is only one right way to do things, and can lead to some of the other marks: Perfectionism, Paternalism, and Either/Or Thinking. Okun’s antidotes to “One Right Way” are beautiful and life-giving. These include gratitude, being transparent, and being willing to take risks and make mistakes. These, I think, are also the kinds of things Jesus calls us to. Jesus sought to bring people together rather than dividing them.
How will you recognize Black History month? Perhaps take a moment to read some of Tema Okun’s insightful writings and think about what you can change in your home, workplace, or congregation to help dismantle White Supremacy Culture and help bring about God’s Shalom.
Yours in Christ,
Gwyn, Kat, and Shannon
Earlier this summer, Canadian church leaders were made aware of a unique opportunity to join with the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) as a signatory on a joint statement condemning anti-black racism in Canada. While Community of Christ in Canada has not yet been admitted as a full member of the council, our engagement has been highly meaningful, and we have been building good ecumenical relationships.
In our June 2020 survey of church members across Canada it was clear that there was a strong degree of support for our denomination’s participation in this effort, and we have been busy following through with this mandate. With 107 responses from across Canada, the results provided us with the feedback we needed to proceed in a way that honoured our tradition of being guided by the wishes of the body. It is worth mentioning that the Intercultural Chair of the CCC praised our democratic and participatory process indicating that he felt we were taking the time to connect with members rather than simply having our leaders sign on to a statement.
With the support of the membership, Canada East Mission Centre President Kerry Richards, our designated representative with CCC, formally added Community of Christ in Canada’s support to the joint statement.
View the official CCC joint statement here.
While we recognize that signing a document in and of itself is not enough, it signals the beginning of a larger ecumenical conversation and actionable steps. By joining this declaration, we are making strides toward fulfilling our call to “…work tirelessly to tear down walls of separation and to build bridges of understanding.” (Doctrine and Covenants 162:6b) We seek reconciliation within our own denomination and through our communities across Canada, and we look forward to hearing from you about the unique ways in which you prioritize to combat anti-Black racism in your congregations. Thank you for your participation in this process.
Apostle Art Smith
President Steve Veazey has released a video statement on racism and the response to it that is required by all members of the church. He shares some of his own experience in awakening to and confronting racial injustice. His challenge focuses on how racism denies the Worth of All Persons, one of the church’s Enduring Principles. Racism operates in opposition to the reign of God on Earth. And if we are FOR the Worth of All Persons and the reign of God on Earth—as Jesus calls us to be—then we must speak and act AGAINST racism in all its subtle and not-so-subtle forms. Please take a few minutes to watch this video and consider your personal response.
Earlier this month church leaders in Canada were made aware of a unique opportunity to partner with the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) in a timely joint statement recognizing and marking the International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) in the Canadian context. As the world continues to reel from George Floyd’s murder in the United States, it is imperative that we look inward at our own racial biases here in Canada to support positive change in our own communities.
With this opportunity to stand up for racial justice in mind, we distributed a survey to you via our mission centre mailing lists as well as our social media channels. You responded with swift and overwhelming support. We received over 100 responses from all across the country, and the results are in:
We hear you, and I have asked Kerry Richards, our designated representative with CCC, to proceed in formally adding Community of Christ’s support to the joint statement.
Jonathan Schmidt, Intercultural Chair of the Canadian Council of Churches, had this to say about our process to survey membership:
“I really like the engagement you are doing across Canada--making this more than simply signing on as a leader, but also engaging your communities in conversation.”
We see value in- and are proud of- our culture of theocratic democracy. Thank you for helping us to bring this unique aspect of our tradition to the CCC.
While signing a document in and of itself is not enough, it is the beginning of a larger ecumenical conversation and actionable steps. By joining this declaration, we are making strides toward fulfilling our call to “…work tirelessly to tear down walls of separation and to build bridges of understanding.” (Doctrine and Covenants 162:6b) We seek reconciliation within our own denomination and through our communities across Canada, and we look forward to hearing from you about the unique ways in which you prioritize to combat anti-Black racism in your congregations.
Field Apostle for Canada
From The First Presidency on behalf of the World Church Leadership Council:
Community of Christ, a member of the National Council of Churches USA, fully endorses the statement issued by the NCC expressing outrage because of the death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. (See: nationalcouncilofchurches.us/floyd-murder/).
Community of Christ accepts the challenge to be “beacons of light in their own [our] communities by addressing racism where they [we] are, acknowledging the trauma experienced by those in the Black community and working tirelessly to end racism and white supremacy once and for all.” The same commitment applies to the suffering of all people who experience racial discrimination and violence in all nations where the church is established.
The USA Team of Apostles urges friends and members of Community of Christ to read a statement from the team released June 1 regarding current events. The statement also will be posted across the church's social media network.
Thank you for you faithful support of Christ’s mission.
In the last couple of years Community of Christ in Canada has been participating as an observer with the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC). While we have not yet been admitted as full members, our engagement has been highly meaningful. We have been building good ecumenical relationships.
We now have the opportunity, as an observer at the Council table to add our signature to a joint statement recognizing and marking the International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) in the Canadian context. The International Decade for People of African Descent was declared by the United Nations in 2015 to last through 2024.
For more information, we encourage you to review the following resources:
By joining other churches in Canada in this joint statement we would be expressing our desire to join them in asking the CCC to make anti-racism, specifically anti-Black racism, and the goals of the UN IDPAD, a priority.
I believe that this is an opportunity for Community of Christ members and congregations in Canada to prophetically respond to these matters with creative engagement as individuals, groups, congregations, and jurisdictions.
As Community of Christ Canadian leadership contemplate signing this joint statement, we would be interested in hearing from you. Please complete this survey by Wednesday, June 17, 2020.
I also welcome any other feedback on this opportunity.
In the peace of Jesus Christ,
Field Apostle for Canada
community of christ
355 Elmira Road North, Unit 129
Guelph, ON N1K 1S5 Canada
Canada West Mission: 877-411-2632
Canada East Mission: 888-411-7537