What does shalom look like in friendships? What does shalom look like in cities where there are significant barriers to racial reconciliation? Executive Director Matt Russell, Ph.D. ProjectCURATE, a social incubator founded by St. Paul’s UMC Houston is excited about his latest grassroots opportunity. “This is not another workshop or seminar on race relations,” he shares. “We are partnering with community organizations, Houston thought leaders, and UMC churches this fall to try something bold. “We want to see if it’s possible to nurture specific relationships within a group of multiethnic leaders and learners in this city. Our goal is to dismantle racial barriers while reconciling our Christian ideals.”
Through the upcoming Race & the Christian Imagination curriculum and cohort, participants collectively discerning how to respond to the harmful cultural norms with a gospel narrative that is rooted in improbable friendships.
The learning experience is designed to equip participants in core competencies for effective social engagement and collaboration such as:
- Critical and Generative Dialogue
- Reflective Action & Presence
- Breaking the Cycle of Violence
- Resolving Interpersonal Conflict
- Developing Cultural Intelligence
“We invite our UMCs across the conference to consider enrolling leaders in our Fall 2017 curriculum,” shares Matt. “Ideally, 7-10 leaders of your church could receive the training they need to expand their cultural intelligence, biblical discipleship and evangelism efforts, and their ability to engage their communities for the sake of the gospel of reconciliation.”
What is Involved?
- Attend a monthly training and teaching from September –December.
- Tuition cost is $100 per semester and $25 for materials per semester for those that can afford this amount. Scholarships are available via application, leaving just the $25 per person to offset the printing of materials.
- Since attendance is crucial to the learning process, it is important that participants refrain from missing more than one meeting during the semester.
- A workbook will be given to each participant as a point of reference for review and preparation between meetings. This workbook includes practices for reflection and empathy, as well as learning activities, such as journaling. In addition, videos will be available online for learning and interaction with other cohort members. The integration of the material into each individual’s life will depend on how much work they put into their time between meetings.
- The September Dinner is yet to be confirmed, however all other sessions will take place from 9am – noon on September 16, October 21, November 18 and December 16
- Register online before August 31st at http://www.projectcurate.org/join-for-2017.
The Woodlands UMC Hosts Conversations on Race and the Church
Rev. Michelle Manuel, The Woodlands UMC (TWUMC) Associate Pastor of The Loft worship community shares, “In the last few months I have felt pressed to just begin hosting conversations surrounding race in America and the church. With encouragement from Bishop Bob Hayes, this spring I hosted a small group book study on Divided by Faith by Emerson and Smith. The group was open to learning about their own privilege and learning from others.”
Energized to do more, the group birthed the “Can We Talk” summer series, which is open to the community. Over 70 people attended the first series in June to share a meal, watch and discuss a TED Talk. “On July 27, Matt Russell and Cleve Tinsley will share about their experience with race and ministry, and field questions from the audience,” Michelle adds.
Michelle and her husband plan to be trained as facilitators to grow in their own understanding of privilege and race, and facilitate continued conversations and relationship building at TWUMC.
Matt welcomes additional speaking opportunities around this relevant topic. He adds, “We pray this cohort training, topic of conversation and method of facilitating improbable friendships will have the potential to transform and redemptively disrupt our cities and culture.”