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  • Helms Jarrell

Living Justice: An Anti-Racist Practicum

Since the fall of 2020, I have been participating in a cohort of "diverse scholar-practitioner-activist leaders to develop resources to critically advance the anti-racist/pro-reconciling (AR/PR) imperatives, and to teach other lay persons, clergy, scholars, and institutional leaders how to take next steps to institutionalize justice by building upon the current AR/PR training model." Each week, we start with music. Gathered on zoom, we listen to a wide variety of instruments and voices singing songs of liberation. Then, we hear from Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) clergy and scholars on topics of race, colonization, culture, and theology. There are opportunities throughout the meeting to interject thoughts, ask questions, and share in small groups. We've been challenged to write reflections and ideate around certain concepts, coming up with thought projects or hands on ones.


The people "in the room" are some of my favorite Disciples relationships. While the topic is interesting and often at the forefront of theological and congregational discourse, what brings me back each time are the folks on the call. We range in age, gender, race, geography, and backgrounds and we also have several commonalities- when a rhythm hits the airwaves, we all tend to move; when we see someone's child on the screen, we all tend to grin; when someone is on the call making dinner, we all ask if we can have a bite.


We have covered topics like the power of pop culture and its potential as a tool for social change; human centered design, honoring our ancestors, centering black women's bodies, and our connection to the cosmos.


Here's a little bit more about the project:


"The Living Justice project is rooted in the lived theologies of transformative leaders and communities. It takes attention to ecologies of transformation and theological diagnosis to be crucial. The practicum will clarify and consolidate what these leaders and communities already know about the underlying ecologies that enable transformative conversation, pedagogy, and change.

It focuses on connecting and developing scholar-practitioner-activist leaders. The project's immediate aim is to develop leaders and a curriculum for a more extensive anti-racist practicum. It will provide a space to develop plans, explore risks, and think through the challenges and opportunities presented by this moment. It is ultimately aimed at reaching Disciples who would benefit from such a practicum to further their interest and commitment to justice in their communities after having already completed the basic AR/PR one-day training.

Its central strategy is to develop and test a new context and model of conversation and pedagogy, an anti-racist practicum. The heart of the project is to curate a creative design lab for innovative practitioners to invite thought to develop an anti-racist practicum to activate courageous conversation, analysis, and pedagogy."


I am glad to have been a part of this project and look forward to the ways it continues to shape me and the Church. f you'd like to know more about this project and the core leadership team, click here.




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