Click on the tabs below to read more about how and why we are continuing to mobilize around racial justice this Lent.

As a multi-ethnic church, we recognize that we are called to different work depending on our proximity to white privilege and the deeply embedded structures of racism that have shaped our country since the beginning. Yet we join together as Christians in one voice to lament the murders of George Floyd, Amhaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and many others whose names we know and do not know. 

In this national moment we say yet again what should be obvious to all Christians and people of good will: Black Lives Matter. We have stood for racial justice since our church was founded twenty years ago because the Jesus we know is always in solidarity with those who experience oppression and injustice. 

Yet we confess that we have not lived up to our values and statements and ideals. In the words of the old liturgy, “We have sinned by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.” We have been too complacent and too complicit. We hear in this moment a call from God to renew our commitment.

Talk is cheap and offering one more statement is easy. Yet as the protest signs say, “silence is violence,” so we offer these heartfelt words, as inadequate as they are. We know that these words will only resonate if our collective action makes them ring true. Church Without Walls has got gospel work to do.

The late John Lewis wrote these words before his passing: “Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.”

At CWOW, we boldly reaffirm our longstanding commitment to stand against America’s persistent and insidious sin of racism. And, in this watershed moment where the nation’s attention is captured by the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism, we aspire to proactively answer Lewis’s call to go all in on the redemptive work of racial justice – “not only with words or speech, but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18). We believe this work is core to our collective and prophetic witness as Christ followers to “do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8). 

To guide us as a church family on our journey of 381 Days of Racial Justice, CWOW’s Racial Justice Leadership (RJL) team identified the November 2020 election as one pressing, strategic opportunity to advance racial equity and dismantle oppressive, unjust systems. In the run-up to the election, we will collectively live out our pursuit of racial justice in three ways: we will educate, activate, and accelerate.

Educate: We will familiarize ourselves with the structural issues that perpetuate racial injustice. Specifically, we will seek to partner with and learn from racial justice leaders and organizations, and we will look closely at three California propositions that address inequities in the criminal justice system and the policy implications of each.

Activate: We will collectively and prayerfully identify the best actions to take to address systemic inequities. At a minimum, that could simply means voting (and voting early).  For those of you who are not able to vote, it will be incumbent upon the RJL to work with you to find other ways to participate.  

Accelerate: We will extend the call for racial justice beyond the CWOW community. For example, we will encourage others in our sphere of influence to vote and share what we are learning about the ballot propositions. Let’s mobilize those we know and those we don’t to advance racial justice.

The November election is one step in our collective journey as a church family, but we are in the work of racial justice for the long haul. Together, with humility and great expectation, we look forward to partnering together to bring God’s upside-down kingdom justice more fully into our community, country, and world. 

At CWOW we are seeking to be steady, strong, and sustained in our commitment to racial justice. One way to lean-in together is to track and coordinate our action for 381 days, the length of time that it took for the Montgomery bus boycott to achieve the desegregation of public transit. Under this overarching framework, our focus will be 3 pronged:

– To learn new ideas from one another and track how we are sustainably engaging in racial justice as individuals in our own spheres of influence.
– Our racial justice leadership team, made up of a diverse group of community members, will lead us in specific ways to do racial justice outside of our CWOW Community.
– We will participate in an elder-lead dialogue about opportunities for racial justice within our own community, and look to implement positive change at CWOW.

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Lenten Practices to Deepen Discipleship Around Justice

In the spirit of our 381 Days of Racial Justice campaign, we wanted to provide another resource to you that would connect with the ways in which we reflect on Jesus’ journey to the cross.  

There are so many choices we can make during Lent in order to deepen our relationship with Jesus.  Normally we think in categories like fasting or prayer.  Yet, consider how God may be calling you to lean into our discipleship around justice and shalom.  Our practices in Lent are often around giving up some habit or practice in order to make space for a practice that helps you draw near to God and God’s heart.  If this is a season where one of those ‘add-ins’ are connected to God’s call of shalom, here are some suggestions that you might consider.  [We especially want to commend these suggestions to use as ones that can be done corporately with people in your Life Group, your home or whatever configuration of folk you want to gather.]   

CONTEMPLATION/LITURGY 

  • Use Claiborne’s Common Prayer, A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.  Claiborne combines the elements of liturgy, with an orientation towards praying for justice.  The online version updates every day and can be found at https://commonprayer.net.  You could do this on your own, but you could also connect with a few friends and do it over Zoom.  Daily liturgies often hold space for intercession.  You may want to consider the Prayers of the People topics from Sunday Celebration as the focus of your intercession.
  • A former member of our community co-authored a Lenten contemplation tool that remains relevant and powerful as we use this season to cry out for justice.  It can be found at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pJQYi1_KymFR9NZyUVD2j7VPu91Rs0yr/view.  (This is the whole .pdf of the daily prayer times)
  • Use a lenten devotional created by Indigenous Christian brothers and sisters that approaches lent from a relational context of Christian to creation.  You can sign up here: https://www.eloheh.org/ 

EDUCATION/EMPATHY 

  • Consider using a book as a part of your devotion this season, such as The Cross & the Lynching Tree by James Cone.
  • Consider taking a weekly, slow walk using something like a podcast during a walk, like “Reclaiming My Theology
  • Watch a video to learn more about American History that may be less familiar to you such as:
    • Banished, a documentary on PBS about the forceful removal of Black Americans from their homes that still has modern implications
    • Chan is Missing, a film set in San Francisco’s Chinatown (available on Kanopy)
  • For our white brothers and sisters, consider joining one of the Lenten Life Groups oriented around building empathy, especially around the experience of our Asian and Asian American brothers and sisters.
  • Join a prayer time with One Blood Prayer Fellowship on February 28th at 6pm.

ADVOCACY 

  • Join a Lunch & Learn with Pastor Gary to learn more about engaging in Environmental Justice and Creation Care.  
  • Write a weekly letter (not email!) to someone who has decision power about a justice issue you care about.  And don’t just reprint the letter, but speak to it from a different angle each week.  
  • Attend a meeting (city council, PTSA) 

GIVING 

  • Donate a fixed amount of money (you could do it based on your earnings or perhaps what you spend each week on something with regularity [that perhaps you give up for Lent as well]) to an organization doing good work around a justice issue you care about.  If you are looking for ideas consider: 
    • Justice for Migrant Women – an organization currently providing support for these workers who bear significant risk due to COVID-19 with few legal protections or resources
    • La Cocina – an organization supporting low income food service business owners through this COVID-19 crisis
    • The Bail Project – an organization that continues to provide bail relief to individuals who are incarcerated without a conviction while waiting for trial

SERVICE 

  • Volunteer with a local Asian/Pacific Islander community group who is doing neighborhood ‘monitoring’.  
  • Collect books from your network for Achieve Academy
  • Help cook a meal for Men of Valor Academy for Easter Sunday celebration

Justice Blog

Check out our blog to find out how the CWOW community is engaging with racial injustice, both locally and globally.

Justice Together Campaign Archive

See action plans from past weeks.

Justice Together 2020 Resources

Find our archive of supplemental links and videos.

To receive the official Justice Together meeting link email info@churchwithoutwallsberkeley.org, or look for it in This Week at Cwow and the Weekend Update email newsletters.

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