This past Friday marked the second of four sessions in our Becoming Together: Toward the Beloved Community study led by Rev. Simon Park. As part of our mission to seek truth through the gift of Scripture, we reflected on the important issue of racism in our society and our role as a church and community in the fight against anti-black racism. Last week we learned about the history of the Galatians, the concept of model minorities, and the white normativity that we see in today’s society. Many of our ESM congregation members shared their stories and honest reflections on issues relating to racism, freedom and identity.
This week we covered Galatians 1 and 2, exploring the source of the gospel as Paul understood it. As we began to delve into the message and thoughts of St. Paul, we learned about how this revelation of the Gospel changed Paul’s entire belief system, helping him find a new calling in life. We continued to look at the real-life implications of Paul’s understanding of the gospel and how he built communities based on new norms. We began to understand that the essence of a new community is based on the norm of a life where all receive God’s grace without regard to their worth.
From the insights of these chapters, we were able to relate to our current real-world context. In particular, we reflected on the residential patterns of Toronto, and realized how we’ve structured ourselves as a society. Toronto is much more segregated and racialized than we thought, even though we hold this reputation of being one of the most diverse cities in the world. What do these facts tell us about the norms we follow and the choices we make? Whom have we deemed worthy to be with? Is this due to the subconscious choices we make as citizens? Or is this a systemic issue that stems from the top and those in power? Questions like this provoked discussion and deep reflection on our actions as a faith community.
As we were able to listen in to the discussion groups and hear the thoughts of our congregation members, many insights and new perspectives were introduced to us. Topics such as cumulative advantage, white privilege and ignorance branched many discussions on our history and our role as a faith community. Some members realized that normality and what seems right can be subjective; things that may be wrong can seem normal to us if we are used to it. Others discussed ignorance and how we are hesitant to help those who are different from us. Overall, it was truly a beautiful sight to see many of the members of our community, from all different types of backgrounds and experiences, come together and honestly discuss such prominent issues in our current context. We encourage you to continue to participate in these active discussions and Bible studies as we explore our role as a church and faith community.
See you next Friday!