On Tuesday, July 23rd, people of color representing every MCC region in the United States gathered together in beautiful Miami for three historic days of dialogue and fellowship where the love was as bright as the sunshine. Part training, part retreat, “Renewing Our Minds, Restoring Our Souls” was convened with two goals in mind: to reevaluate and reconstitute MCC’s anti-racism analysis and to provide time and space for spiritual reflection and communal fellowship. Anchored by the 23rd Psalms and Romans 12:2, our coming together proved to be a time for sharing love, faith and hope for and with ourselves, our churches, our communities and our MCC!
A better place could not have been chosen. The diversity of our gathering was reflected all around us. A daughter of a MCC coordinator remarked that she felt like she was in a Latin American country. One regional representative stated that she never had to speak English the entire time we were together. Our gathering also reflected the concern of our communities regarding recent events throughout the nation. We expressed concern over the recent Zimmerman verdict, the “Twitter rage” against Marc Anthony’s performance of the national anthem at the All-Star baseball game earlier in the month and the continued plight of Native American women after the passing of the Violence Against Women Act. We recognized the history-making actions of a group of Black and Brown youth going by the name “The Dream Defenders” as they have been waging a sit-in at Florida’s governor’s office to protest the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law since the end of the Zimmerman trial. These national and historic events grounded us as we gathered together toward strengthening MCC’s commitment to racial justice.
Our consensus was clear – MCC has one of the most respected anti-racism legacies among Christian relief and peace organizations, yet there remains plenty of work to be done to actualize MCC’s stated racial justice mandates. Our effort is to hold up that legacy with the mutual desire to progress even further and see realized the racial justice convictions shared across the organization. In that spirit, we took the time to honor the past and those that first opened the eyes of the organization to the reality of racism even as we focused on the present with hopes for an even more deliberate future of racial justice commitment and action. By honoring our past, we honor the work that remains ahead of us and prepare ourselves for the mighty work at hand. Our very presence together was statement to our mutual desire and commitment.
The sharing of the core components of what will become MCC’s renewed anti-racism analysis provided the opportunity for all gathered to digest, reflect and ask questions that will enhance the analysis. The critical feedback from participants called for an anti-racism analysis that is spiritually-centered, heart-felt, informed by MCC’s past, flexible enough to meet constituents wherever they are in their respective anti-racist journeys, honors the growing cultural diversity that is MCC and seeks justice both within and without MCC. Of the goals of the program that were shared, the most compelling seemed to be the mutual desire to strengthen MCC’s relationships with churches of color.
Our fellowship did not end when the day’s work was done. In the evening we shared laughter over Cuban and Argentinian and Mexican meals as the festive sounds of the Caribbean islands played around us. We traded stories as we walked along the clear-blue waters of the bay as palm trees swayed overhead, basking under a warm Miami sun. Our experience was greatly enriched by the guidance of MCC East Coast’s Andrew Bodden, whose family calls Miami home. With clasped hands we ended our time together in prayers for safe journeys home. We left inspired to make our home in MCC all the more warm and welcoming for those who will follow in our footsteps – footsteps on the pathway to the healing waters of justice and the ever-flowing stream of righteousness.
This meeting will be followed by a meeting with our white sisters and brothers in MCC that share our commitments to racial justice. That meeting is still being planned. For more information, please contact Ewuare Osayande, Anti-Oppression Coordinator – email@example.com.