Waking Up White - Join the Conversation

This past week I participated in a gathering of Presbyterians in Louisville, Ky., in preparation for this summer’s General Assembly. In the course of those meetings I chatted with a pastor who had previously preached at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church.

She told me her favorite thing about preaching here was that after her sermon, as people greeted her at the door, multiple folks gave her additional reading recommendations to complement some of the ideas she had mentioned in her sermon. She recognized BMPC as a place where we are curious not just about faith, but about the world, and this is a place where we seek to educate ourselves on how to live and work faithfully in an ever-changing world.

This is one of the things I love as well about BMPC. Somedays I wish the only work I had to do was finally get around to reading all the thoughtful and compelling books that have been recommended to me by members of this congregation.

This is why I am especially grateful that when the Adult Education Council and I recommend a book to the congregation to read, so many of you join us in this all church book conversation.

We have already sold more than 100 copies of Debby Irving’s book Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race. Last Sunday around 50 people gathered to begin a conversation about the book and how our own experiences of race - especially for most of us our experience of being white - compare to Debby’s story of becoming aware of her own place in the history and culture of race in our country.

Debby writes:

“Self‐examination and the courage to admit bias and unhelpful inherited behaviors may be our greatest tools for change. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable enough to expose our ignorance and insecurities takes courage. And love. I believe the most loving thing a person, or a group of people, can do for another is to examine the ways in which their own insecurities and assumptions interfere with others’ ability to thrive. Please join me in opening your heart and mind to the possibility that you—yes, even well‐intentioned you—have room to change and grow, so that you can work with people of all colors and ethnicities to co‐create communities that can unite, strengthen, and prosper.” (Waking Up White, p. 249)

One of the reasons, besides its relevant and compelling content, that we are reading this book together as a church is because it has been recommended by the Co-Moderators of our Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly, the Revs. Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston. As Denise and Jan have been traveling these past two years and visiting Presbyterian congregations around the country, they have identified the issue of race to be one of the most pertinent to the future of the Presbyterian Church.

We will welcome Debby Irving at the end of this month - on Sun., April 29 - to speak both at 11:15 a.m. after worship, as well as to lead a workshop on engaging in effective conversations on race in our communities at 1:00 p.m. in Congregational Hall. Books are still available in the Book Center for $5.00 each.

We hope you can join us in this important and timely conversation.