All Church Read launches with emphasis on “staying human as we build a just world”

A new All Church Read offers an opportunity to seek restoration in a year faced with several global crises and an upcoming presidential election.

Join the Movement and Racial Justice Ministries of the United Church of Christ have created an invitation to deepen our capacities and commitments to healing, wholeness, and care with two book selections and a wealth of resources to read them collectively.

The books are Sacred Self Care: Daily Practices for Nurturing Our Whole Selves by Chanequa Walker-Barnes, which is structured as a seven-week guide to create habits tending to the mind, body, and spirit; and Black Liturgies: Prayers, Poems and Meditations for Staying Human by Cole Arthur Riley, a collection of prayers, letters, poems, meditation questions, breath practices, and scriptures.

“Our hope is encountering the books together will be a way of deepening the invitations to sacred self-care using some of the beautiful prayers and rituals that Black Liturgies offers,” said Sharon Fennema, Join the Movement curator and storyteller.

The All Church Read will interweave the themes and readings from both books through a group engagement curriculum, available now through the Frontline Faith Resource Center.

Videos and webinars to deepen the conversation will launch from now through November, including a video series created by the Rev. Cheryl Lindsay, UCC minister for worship and theology, and some to feature the authors of each book.

Reminders that we are sacred

Velda Love, minister for racial justice and Join the Movement lead, said she has found books by both Walker-Barnes and Cole as strong resources to recommend to “kindred spirits doing racial justice work and restorative self-care journeys.”

These two books were selected for the All Church Read with particular relevance around conversations she’s had with people trying to remain aware and connected with what is happening politically in the United States and prayerful for people undergoing violent attacks and loss of life in Gaza and Ukraine.

“I wanted to offer resources that would strengthen and encourage communities, congregations, and justice warriors across the UCC,” said Love. “Chanequa Walker-Barnes and Cole Arthur Riley have written words of encouragement that replenish one’s heart and soul. There are healing practices, reminders that we are sacred human beings created in the image of God. These resources are more than books to read during a liturgical season. Chanequa and Cole Arthur have provided companions for staying human as we build a just world for all.”

Concrete practices

What makes this year’s two All Church Read books unique is how, in addition to encouraging discussion, they center around concrete practices for self-care. That’s because the journey to racial justice is intimately connected with developing an understanding of how to care for oneself, according to Fennema.  

“Racial justice and visions of a racially just future are intimately tied to our own wholeness and restoration of body, mind, and spirit,” she said. “For us to accomplish that vision, we have to be practicing not only anti-racist practices, but also healing and restoring practices. A key component of that movement work is making sure we’re attending to what it means to be flourishing in our bodies, minds, and spirits. Noticing how much people are feeling like there’s a lot at stake in this election, we wanted to not only talk about how we vote and what we advocate for, but how do we stay human and connected and compassionate and loving in the context of what appears like it could be a divisive season.

“These books offer us real concrete practices to lean into those questions.”

All Church Read resources are available now.

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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