“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
From Pastor Belita Mitchell and team, Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren:
Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren ‘Black Lives Matter’ Statement
As followers of Jesus we stand in solidarity with our black brothers and sisters enduring racial violence and systemic oppression. We denounce anti-black racism resulting in police brutality, mass incarceration, and unjust legal systems that disproportionately harm black and brown people. We denounce the evil “principalities and powers” at work in our world that seek to kill, steal, and destroy people made in the image of God.
As a congregation we commit to doing justice and peacemaking in the way of Jesus. For the times we as a church have been complacent about the suffering of others, we confess our complicity. By God’s grace we repent and courageously align ourselves with the Spirit’s activity and the Messiah’s reign on earth. And in obedience to God we seek to set things right where every valley is lifted up and every mountain is made low. Jesus teaches us how to struggle against oppression through his example of standing in solidarity with those who were considered ‘the least’ and ‘the last’ in his society. And because Jesus affirmed that poor people’s lives mattered, that Samaritans lives mattered, and the lives of those crucified by Rome mattered, we affirm that black and brown lives matter too, and are precious to God.
As a congregation we commit to deepening our faithfulness to Jesus through holy listening, through intentional learning, and through discerning congregational public action. ∙ As a congregation we commit to creating intentional inter-generational space where the stories of our black and brown brothers and sisters are received with love. In line with God’s upside-down kingdom, we will encourage marginalized stories to be centered while inviting those in the dominant culture to step back and be slow to speak and quick to listen. Specifically, we will make space for this congregational practice immediately after we return to worshiping together in our building.
- As a congregation we commit to deepening our understanding of the history and present systems of racism in the United States, as well as the complicity of the western church in the legacy of white supremacy. We will study the history, our present society, and the theological implications of racism and its ties to the church. Specifically, our congregation will begin with Jemar Tisby’s “Color of Compromise” video series. We will follow that up with ongoing learning.
- We will grow in our understanding of what it means to be an intentionally and actively anti-racist church. Finally, we commit to taking public action because we are called to do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. Just as Jesus spent most of his time out in the streets of Galilee serving and living in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable we too seek to take action that makes the Jesus story visible to those who have their backs against the wall.
- Specifically, we commit to ongoing discernment as a congregation about what public actions, community partnerships, and organizing efforts in our neighborhood we will participate. We know that faith without works is dead and discipleship requires a love willing to respond to the suffering of others. We pray for a prophetic witness that pleases God and participates in seeing justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.
Harrisburg First Discernment Team & Pastor Belita Mitchell
(Harrisburg First CoB is located on Hummel St in Harrisburg’s South Allison Hill neighborhood which is comprised of the largest concentration of low-income families between Philadelphia & Pittsburgh.) ~
You can watch Jemar Tisby’s “The Color of Compromise” series too!
“When we truly know justice, we will truly know peace.” ❤️
Yes, I used the exact same title as last year’s post. Because it’s still true and more salient than ever!
In this time of critical mass, we have an opportunity to make changes at every level. Governor Wolf just declared Juneteenth a state holiday.
Time to make Juneteenth a federal holiday!
Original Juneteenth order found in the National Archives:
Some ways to help others:
And some ways to help yourself. We need you alive and doing okay!
The emotional impact of watching white people wake up to racism:
Medical professionals bias tiktok:
“Dear fellow White ladies” video:
White progressive backlash:
“This google doc was thoughtfully put together for white people and white parents. Read, teach your children, others, and more importantly yourselves. Do NOT rest on the laurels of black people and expect them to continue to do the work for you.”:
DC physician’s Detroit childhood Girl Scouts experience:
How to show support to Black colleagues:
For White academics:
Your Black colleagues aren’t okay:
“Dear White People: this is what we want you to do”:
“White folks wanting to help? Here’s your one freebie”:
Thread of reading list recommendations from Victoria Alexander:
The Anti-racist book list:
Book recommendations to share with young readers from Kathie MacIsaac:
Someone said I did a racism, now what?
What to say when someone says something racist or bigoted in everyday situations:
Saturday, 6/13, 10:00 am:
This workshop is aimed at helping White women (trans-inclusive, NB-inclusive) to understand and work on their own racism/ gain understanding of systemic racism. (Women of any race may attend, but Black and Brown women may find it remedial!)
Emphasis on movement perspective of connection, cooperation, safety, kindness, trust, and inclusion, rather than the western-masculine model of critical and exclusionary activism.
WHAT really is race?
WHY is race hard to talk about?
WHY is “White women” a charged term?
HOW does feminism fit in?
HOW can we heal racism?
WHAT can White women do to help?
Presented by Dr. Liz Yaelingh-Scoffins of Intersectional Life Counseling & Psychology
$25 (or request scholarship if needed)
BIPOC may attend for free using the code: BiPOC
20% of proceeds will be donated to the BLM cause (TBD).
Register Here: http://www.ombabycenter.com/race-action.html
Zoom link will be provided in a reminder e-mail prior to the workshop.
Furthermore, no matter how hard we work on it, no one owes you or me absolution. That’s not how this works. Become better because it’s the right thing to do and will make society better for all of us.
Look at this: future universities will have entire specializations in the study of the 2020s.
Turbulent times with great disparity in who is affected are likely to lead to social unrest. Medically, financially, socially, emotionally, and legally, marginalized groups have been dealt an incredibly disproportionate blow by the events of this year.
The killing of George Floyd was a tipping point. We all have a choice now. Will you contribute to peace? How are you using your voice?
By contributing to justice. By combating injustice. By helping when you can help. By educating yourself. By understanding the context in which we all–not just any one of us–live. By helping others to understand as well.
Reverend Belita Mitchell (First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg) on peace-building in 2014. First video in a series*.
“How are justice and peace related in your thinking or your experience?” (5:00)
If you are someone in a dominant social group, there is no need to burn or break anything to make yourself heard. Authorities and media attend well to peaceful protests from White people.
In fact, you don’t even need to take to the streets. Just speaking up when you hear unjust or racist words spoken is incredibly helpful. (Here is a very helpful and practical list of ways to speak up against bigotry in many settings.)
When we truly know justice, we will truly know peace. ❤️
I’ve heard that a number of you played roles in or watched Godspell as a musical number at your youth groups or summer camps. I never did. But I did see the movie as a child and we had the vinyl album at home, which I’m pretty sure I wore out memorizing the songs.
At the time this movie came out it was considered very hippie and almost heretical, though by today’s standards it may seem pretty tame.
Have you ever really listened to the words, though? Do you get them?
A widespread crisis is a risk to all, but it will always have worse effects on those who are in any marginalized group. Tynisa Walker has a son who is 15 and autistic. She fears for him daily, but especially now that there is unrest. She is pleading for his life.
Maya Richardson has some good mental health recommendations for Black people, especially Black youth who may be newly exposed to the threats and dangers of living in this society:
If you are White and you don’t know where to start with understanding race issues in America, you can start here: Someone Said I Did A Racism; Now What? A Guide
You might also consider watching When They See Us, currently available on Netflix.
In the past few weeks, I’ve seen an increase in people discussing and writing about having gained weight since the event of the pandemic. Many of us have turned a corner from “acute crisis” to “settling in for the long haul,” and we’re taking stock now. We’ve also recently heard some public figures make critical remarks and references to others’ weight, which has only increased pressure on everyone who already struggles with body image or who experiences criticism about their bodies.
Just so you know, this is not a post about how to lose weight. This is a post about some steps to take if you are thinking about losing weight. This is because the first thing we often jump to when feeling unhappy about our bodies is restricting food intake (“dieting”). But that’s often literally the last thing to do! So please remember to consider these other factors FIRST before jumping to food restriction.
Sleep is often one of the biggest factors in weight changes. Have you been struggling with sleep the past few months? Many people have, whether because of anxiety, depression, or change in routine. Sleep deprivation can change hormones: it reduces leptin and increases ghrelin, which can dramatically disrupt both appetite and metabolism. This can mean experiencing intense cravings and processing fuel differently.
Sleep deprivation also interferes with executive function, which means both cognitive and emotional processes are harder to manage. That can mean it’s hard to plan for and prepare the food you’d like to eat. It can also mean increased emotional eating, or in some cases loss of appetite because of anxiety or depression.
So first of all, make sure to prioritize sleeping enough and sleeping regularly before addressing your eating.
After getting your sleep on track, next consider how you’ve been exercising (or not!)
Whether you’re an essential worker who’s been stressed and working extra hours, or you’ve been working from home, or you’ve been unemployed and out of your normal routine, your body needs the stress outlet of some kind of movement.
Often when people are worried about weight, they focus on exercise as a method of “burning calories.” There are a lot of good reasons to exercise, but “burning calories” is usually an unhealthy way to approach exercise. It’s often an approach that is self-punishing (“I must do an unpleasant activity because of my size!”) or contains elements of bargaining or paying for eating (“I can eat this food I like if I ‘pay’ for it by exercising!”) You don’t have to “pay” for eating with exercise.
A healthy exercise approach is to focus on improving heart function, improving lung capacity, gaining flexibility, metabolizing cortisol to decrease anxiety and regulate sleep, and attenuating depression. In other words, exercise to improve your physical and mental health. Not as a way to neutralize eating.
If you are not satisfied with the overall nutritional balance of foods you are eating, then you are certainly allowed to modify what you’re eating. But when changing your diet, it is important to remember that the goal is to first ADD components you believe you are not getting enough of. Maybe you feel you’re not getting enough leafy greens, or enough legumes, or protein, or calcium. Search out foods that will help to add those elements to the overall balance of your diet! It is acceptable to still eat other foods for enjoyment.
It can be hard to prioritize “adding in” foods, partly because we are constantly bombarded by puritanical, perfectionistic messages that we should be removing or restricting foods.
So you’ve stabilized your sleep, you’ve improved your relationship with exercise, you’re getting a better balance of the nutrients you need, and maybe that’s enough! Maybe you’re back to feeling okay!
–Or, maybe you still feel you’re eating more than you want to, or more than you think you “should.” What then? You’re doing all the “right stuff!” Why are you still eating more! Well, this is the hard part, as the emotional component of any behavior change usually is.
Whenever a behavior is difficult to change, there is usually some part of you that is using the behavior to feel okay. To feel safe, comforted, entertained, loved, awake, valued, to feel pleasure. Eating is such an emotionally layered action. We are not simply input/output mechanisms for fuel and activity.
What emotional need has food been fulfilling for you while you’ve been dealing with stress? Until you can find another satisfactory way to fulfill that emotional need, you will continue to use eating behavior as an emotional tool. No amount of calorie tracking, substitute sweeteners, or rigid meal-planning will sustainably alter that dynamic.
Something to keep in mind is that you can’t fool yourself about your own motives. What I mean by this is, you may be saying to others or to yourself, “I’m doing this for my own good! I need to restrict my food for my health!” but meanwhile there is part of you thinking “I’m going to restrict food because I should be punished [for existing, for taking up space, for using any resources, for having the “wrong” appearance].” Or maybe there is a part telling you that it’s not okay to be fat, or maybe it’s calling yourself names.
Guess what? Until you can keep that part of you from bullying the part that is using food to feel better, it will only make things worse for all parts of you.
Ironically, the bullying part needs patience and tenderness to change, too. That bully part is usually trying to protect you from the criticism of important others. “If I criticize me first, then I won’t get criticism from others.” Let the bullying part of you know that you truly appreciate the protection, but that it’s not necessary any longer. You don’t need it to call you names or harass you.
When you are able to pacify the bullying part, then you will be able to more clearly hear the part using food as an emotional tool.
If that part of you is using food for comfort or safety, is there something else you can use sometimes to feel comforted or safe? If that part is using food to feel loved or valued, can you find some other ways to remind yourself you are loved and valuable? If that part has been using food to quell boredom, can it tell you some other things that might help you feel interested and alive?
Once you have examined the emotional underpinnings of your eating habits and your body image, then you can find more acceptance for yourself, and you can choose whether you want to change your behaviors. But in the meanwhile, remember that this body has carried you, and helped you survive and overcome everything that you have lived through so far. It deserves gratitude and care from you! And so do you, yourself. ❤