Racism and prejudice are fundamental causes of conflict and violence in the world. Churches have an important role to play in encouraging positive ways of handling conflict, bringing people together from different backgrounds, supporting community activities that are reconciling and healing, and holding out the gospel vision of our unity in Christ.
Activities like those outlined below can be of help in interpreting and responding to events in the news (hate crimes, riots, the burning of Black churches…). They can help your congregation follow through on the interest generated by Martin Luther King Day and move beyond stereotypes to meaningful activity. Resource ideas are included on the back of this flyer. Feel free to contact the LPF office for additional ideas or assistance.
- Teach children about different cultures, ways to handle conflict, and God’s love for all people. Use pictures, books, and toys that reflect the diversity of the world. Join in activities with other groups of children who come from different cultures. Help children make connections between Jesus’ teachings on reconciliation and current events and observances such as Martin Luther King, Jr’s Day. Ask persons of various cultures, such as church members and exchange students, to teach the children songs, prayers, games and crafts from their heritage.
- Create worship featuring hymns, prayers, and sermon materials from other cultures. Highlight themes of justice and equality before God. Hold a joint service between congregations of different ethnic backgrounds.
- Offer adult forums on topics such as biblical perspectives on race, the vision of Martin Luther King, Jr., challenging prejudice, examples of racism from the news, and conflict resolution.
- Arrange film and video showings to spark interest and activity. Use group discussion videos like The Family of God: Helping Pre-Adolescents Respond to Racial Stereotypes, or You Can’t Do It Alone: Fighting Racism. True Colors is an excellent 20-minute discussion video.
Consider showing a feature film, such as A Long Walk Home, or a segment from the wonderful PBS series Eyes on the Prize. (graphic)
Videos are available from public and college libraries, video stores, and social justice groups.
- Organize community projects that challenge prejudice for your youth group, women’s and men’s organization, or other group. Ideas include sponsoring a refugee family, volunteering for a multicultural event, organizing sister parish activities, or offering a place of worship for a mission congregation of another nationality.
- Encourage reading through your church library. Set up a book table during coffee hour featuring books on Black history, peacemaking, conflict resolution, and prayers from different cultures. Organize a “book club” for reading and discussion. LPF’s affiliate, the Peace & Justice Resource Center, offers a discount to church libraries.
- Use your church bulletin, newsletter, and bulletin boards to feature relevant holidays, community events, and public figures that challenge racism. Highlight designated months, such as Black History Month in February, Asian American Awareness Month in May, Latina/Chicano Heritage month in September, and Native American Awareness month in October. Honor peacemakers who challenged prejudice such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Cesar Chavez, Dorothy Day, Rosa Parks, (graphic) and Oscar Romero on the anniversary of their birth or death. For other dates, see calendars such as those published by Syracuse Cultural Workers, PO Box 6367, Syracuse, NY 13217.
- Make personal change by committing yourself to expand your understanding and involvement in racial justice. Spend time reflecting on your own cultural heritage, as well as on your stereotypes of others. Increase your reading and discussion of current race and prejudice concerns. Volunteer time to support refugee families, exchange students, and others having to adjust to our country. Strengthen your own relationships across cultures.
The Vision and Challenge of Martin Luther King, Jr. (bulletin insert)
Search our blog for the latest postings about: Racism
Check out our other resources on Race, Gender, Class, Prejudice.