This piece is an excerpt from It Is Time Now: Offerings from the Beloved Community Project, an educational resource produced in 2019 as part of Star Island’s Beloved Community Project. The Star Island Beloved Community Project is a journey SIC has begun as an organization to create a more inclusive and intentional community, to help spread more empathy and understanding in the world, and to become a more welcoming place for all people. We recognize and affirm that many have been on this journey for a long time, and we are excited to listen and learn as we continue on this important journey.
For your community, for your family, your conference, your neighborhood.
There is always something that you can do to help aid and abet love and justice, liberation and thriving.
Sometimes I think we can get stuck because we get too attached to an idea of what a mobilized, energetic, anti-oppressive community should do.
For instance, years ago I had a friend and colleague who had just started her first ministry. She and I had worked closely together in some anti-oppression initiatives and so when we first connected, months into her work there I asked whether or not she had been looking to do any anti-racism work with them.
“Please,” she said. “First I need them to start liking one another.”
We laughed and I heard about how fractured and disconnected her community felt. Her first step there along with her leaders was to help the community connect and weave real relationships with one another.
Every community will have a different next step.
Finding the enthusiasm and openness helps. Finding positive and generative energy to build on helps.
In my most recent ministry, along with some wonderful leaders, we were discussing ways in which we could introduce some anti-racism work and activism in the congregation. Without prompting, one of my most respected and wise leaders asked if she could lead a class with her daughter, a book reflection and discussion book around racism. I joined her in the effort, and it was a wonderful class. And it was born of her passion and enthusiasm. It also happened to fit perfectly with a desired strategic priority.
Sometimes we who are blessed with the sacred task of leadership can be impatient. Sometimes we can try to force an initiative, a class, a strategy, we can push and push because we are convinced we know what is needed. But there is a next step, an organic, life giving, generative, appropriate next step. Sometimes we just might need help to see what it may be.
Seek out wise counsel. Find similar communities who have experienced successes. The work for liberation and love has been going on for a long time. Find ways in which your community has experienced similar successes and build on those.
The Beloved Community longs to be. Whatever context, whatever community you love, it longs to be healthy and thriving, liberated and free. And so the task of leadership is together to discern, in what ways might we set this community free. And then to go and do that.