CHHSM invites wider church into anti-racism course, discussion group
A unique discussion group organized by the UCC’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries will examine the online “Reason to Have Hope: A Public Health Response to Racism” course. The discussion of the multi-part, interactive, free course begins Sept. 14.
The discussion group will meet weekly via Zoom from 1 to 2 p.m. ET through March 15. Each session will be devoted to a different part of the course. Any UCC member or friend is welcome to join.
The every other Tuesday discussions will provide an opportunity to learn about the public health implications of systemic racism. Participants also may choose to bring the course back to their own UCC settings and start local discussion groups.
‘Continue the call to action’
“Reason to Have Hope was created as a resource for the UCC General Synod resolution — co-authored by CHHSM and the UCC Council on Racial and Ethnic Ministries — ‘To Declare and Respond to Racism as a Public Health Crisis,’ which delegates approved in July,” said the Rev. Elyse Berry, CHHSM’s associate for advocacy and leadership development and creator of the curriculum. “We are offering this course discussion series in order to continue the call to action and momentum arising out of the resolution.”
Everyone wishing to participate should sign up for the discussion group and then register for the course. Participants will receive calendar invitations for the group discussion, including Zoom instructions. Participation is free, and people who sign up are not required to attend every session.
“Since all of the course content in online, people can easily go back and learn more about a specific topic, or catch up on a session they missed,” Berry added.
Focus on systems
Reason to Have Hope helps people in all settings of the church gain a deeper understanding of the harm that racism and white supremacy have on health and well-being. The material focuses on the systemic causes of health disparities for people of African descent, Indigenous peoples and other people of color, and on how the work of health equity is tied to liberation for all.
Key to the course is its deep theological grounding. Not only does it present the facts of painful realities, but it also relates stories of humanity, resistance, and solutions from lived experience. Reason to Have Hope begins by laying a foundation for approaching racism as a public health crisis, and then delves into specific issues and topics. These include racism in medicine, health disparities, health equity, poverty, trauma, and health ministries, among others.
The group is part of CHHSM’s ongoing Together We Learn discussion groups program. The program grew out of commitments the CHHSM Board made in its June 2020 statement on systemic racism. Previous groups have discussed “Native” by Kaitlin Curtis and “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi. Reason to Have Hope marks the first time a discussion group will be built around an online course.
A step in a process
CHHSM President and CEO Michael J. Readinger emphasized that this latest discussion group selection is another step in the process of becoming anti-racist.
“Understanding the magnitude and long history of racism — not just in public health, but in society as a whole — is imperative in becoming anti-racist,” Readinger said. “We believe ‘Reason to Have Hope’ provides the grounding for all UCC congregations, CHHSM members and friends to move forward in achieving that goal. By becoming anti-racist, we can build a more just, caring, and compassionate world.”
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