By Rev. Chris Brouillard-Coyle
Take a moment to think about all the attributes that contribute to a first impression of you. What assumptions do people make about you because of your gender, who you love, your skin colour, the way you talk, where you are from, the way you dress, and so on? Have people’s assumptions of you always been fair?
Thinking about those characteristics which contribute to first impressions, consider each of the following statements. Give yourself one point for every statement you feel is true for you:
1. I am not anxious walking alone at night.
2. People haven’t misgendered me – ex., called me male when I am female, etc.
3. I learned the history of my people in school.
4. People are not threatened by my appearance.
5. I don’t have trouble accessing shops, churches, restaurants, and services.
6. I have not been called an abomination to God because of who I love.
7. My denomination does not need to celebrate the first person like me who has become a priest.
8. People aren’t offended when we celebrate an event (e.g., wedding) with my traditions.
9. Stained glass images, icons, pictures, and statues in my church have individuals with similar characteristics to me.
10. I feel like I belong at church.
How did you do? Scored 0-4: You often experience unfair assumptions about you. Scored 5-7: You have some experience with unfair prejudice. Scored: 8-10: You fit the norms of the community which gives you power and privilege whether you expect it or not.
Who are our people? When we look around our sanctuaries; when we check out the faces at ordinations and synod; when we gather for food, fellowship, and celebration; how many of those faces look similar? What is it like when someone different shows up? How are these individuals treated? In what ways do we intentionally create space for them?
Who are our people? When we listen to the stories of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, what do we learn about who our people should be? Are we ready to talk about those places and spaces where our efforts have fallen short of this ideal? Are we ready to acknowledge those ways in which comfort and complacency have created churches where not all people can easily say they feel like they belong?
In “Church Cracked Open: Disruption, Decline, and New Hope for Beloved Community”, Stephanie Spellers explores the history of the Anglican Church, highlights some of its reformers in recent years, and explores how the church can use the tools already available to become a more authentic version of the beloved community God calls us to build in Jesus Christ.
Are you ready to go there? Are you ready to explore power and privilege in new and significant ways that will help us to seek to transform the unjust structures of society, challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation? Start by reading the book. Then join the conversation with Social and Ecological Justice Huron via Zoom in October. More details will be distributed in the “Upcoming Events” bulletins.
Rev. Chris Brouillard-Coyle is a tri-chair of SEJH and a tri-chair of Justice League of Huron.
(Featured photo: Sakatsky/Unsplash)