It all begins one-to-one.
Someone extends a hand (or a socially distant wave in our Covid world), and a conversation begins. And yet, this often seems to be where people with open hearts and a yearning for racial justice and healing feel stymied. How can we make meaningful connections across the divide of race when much of our society remains so segregated today? And is it even possible in our pandemic restricted society today?
Interwoven Congregations begins by helping people of faith (Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other traditions) who are committed to racial justice and healing to find another faith community (with a different racial composition) with which to partner. These connections often begin at the clergy level. In other cases, faith communities may already have a relationship with another faith community, but they can use some assistance to deepen the partnership and take it further.
Aside from supporting linkages between clergy and the leadership teams of the two partnering congregations, Interwoven Congregations supports the creation of small relational groups composing of 10 - 12 people (5 to 6 from each congregation) which meet monthly. For now, these gatherings can take place effectively over a platform like Zoom. As public health guidance allows, these gatherings can take place in peoples' homes or at their respective faith communities.
Beyond small group gatherings, the two partnering congregations can build relationships by doing things together, such as sharing in worship, partnering in mission projects or continuing to deepen their awareness of racism through combined special events. There are a wealth of other social occasions on the faith community calendar that lend themselves well to linking up with your partner congregation and helping people, two people at a time, to enter into meaningful relations over this divide of race.
The point of it all? The first answer is joy -- the joy we find in building community across the rich diversity of God's creation. But we also know from numerous studies that one of the feeders of racism in society is the implicit biases that many of us harbor based on race. Whether we're conscious of it or not, we perpetuate the racism that we drink and breathe each day. Building relationships with people of other racial backgrounds, studies show, is one effective tool to dismantle racism -- one relationship at a time.