Highlighting the good work of faith communities as they seek to engage in this year's mission opportunity in their culture and context.
“You've gotta be kidding me.”
That was the Rev. Brenda Ziebell’s reaction when she learned that her community of Rushford, which is nearly all white, has a history that includes diversity and activism.
The story was revealed when one of the members of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Rushford found a hidden room in her home. She later learned that the Quakers who had built the home had built it in order to participate in the Underground Railroad. She was then spurred on to dig deeper into this story to discover how the community was involved and impacted.
She found that the building that Emmanuel worships in was built by Louis Pinkley, a freed former slave.
This revelation has reoriented the members of Emmanuel in their understanding of their community, and has caused them to ask a deeper question about how they can embrace and learn from the advocacy and activism of their ancestors.
This question has led Emmanuel to plan an event to bring the community together for learning and conversation. Together, they will dig into this untaught and unremembered past and figure out what it has to tell them about their life and work as a community today.
To do this, they're bringing in a former Rochester NAACP President to teach them more about the history of the community, and help them understand how racism exists and operates in their community and in the nation today.
The young people of Emmanuel are talking to their social studies teachers to encourage others from the school to attend, and they're engaging people from across their community.
How is your faith community creatively engaging this year's mission opportunity? What's the story of race in your community? Contact Rachel Babbit, your Missioner for Community Engagement, to dig in, get resources, and learn more.