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More Religion In America
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Resources for Maintaining Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This article from the Inclusive America Project highlights many faith traditions with links to virtual events, religious literacy tools, and ways to support local communities. Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Jewish, and other traditions are represented on this diverse list.
article
Black and Latino Startup Churches Work to Stay Afloat During Pandemic
This article highlights congregations of color that revolutionized urban ministry during the COVID-19 health crisis.
web resource
Seder2020
This clearinghouse for virtual seders allows you to create your own or join another.
For The CRG Created For The CRG
Talking About Racism

Many congregations are looking for resources to help them talk about racism. White congregations want to prepare for dialogue with their multi-cultural neighbors. They want to learn more about the historical roots of racism and how it has become ingrained through social and economic structures.


Among the many fine books available, there is one curriculum that stands out as practical, accessible, and free. White Privilege: Let’s Talk – a Resource for Transformational Dialogue is a free, downloadable curriculum from the United Church of Christ.


It is designed to engage participants in “safe, meaningful, substantive, and bold” conversations on race. The curriculum contains background reading, webinars, and a conversation guide.


To get a feel for the material, it may be helpful to watch one of the five accompanying webinars, such as Whiteness as the Norm. For congregations who want to delve more deeply into racial issues impacting communities of faith, take a look at https://thecrg.org/search/results?query=race.


book
Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America
This grace-filled book calls White Christians to recognize that well-intentioned actions perpetuate racial divides if leaders aren’ t proactive about bridging the ethnic gap.
book
The Cross and the Lynching Tree
This book draws a line between the central image of western Christianity, the cross, and the symbol of racialized terrorism in the United States, the lynching tree, and asks why we haven’ t connected the two sooner.
book
Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare
This book explores the relationship between the personal and public ministries of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
book
Witnessing and Testifying: Black Women, Religion, and Civil Rights
This book explores the unsung roles of women in the Civil Rights movement.
media
What Manner of Woman
This 15-minute documentary celebrates black women, explains Womanist Theology, and highlights women’ s historic contributions to freedom and Liberation Theology.
For The CRG Created For The CRG
FACT Gearing Up for 2020 Survey

The new Faith Communities Today (FACT) survey is in the works. The survey officially launches next year, and FACT is in the process of finalizing participants now. Faith groups and denominations will survey their congregations early next year. Take a look at the list of groups that have agreed to participate and ensure that your group is represented. If your religious body or denomination isn’t listed, you can contact FACT at sbrown@hartsem.edu to inquire about partnership opportunities.


FACT is an interfaith research organization that provides key information on a range of subjects relating to congregational life in America. Previous FACT surveys resulted in relevant findings about conflict, outreach, young adults, spiritual vitality and more.


The goal for this new report is to survey 20,000 congregations in 2020.


For The CRG Created For The CRG
The Formative Power of Your Congregation

Many elements make you the person you are. You are shaped by your race, your geographic location, and your genetic structure. Your personality is formed by your family, your friends, and the choices you make along the way. You are influenced by education, social affiliations and friendships.

All of us are formed by the company we keep. The company we keep includes the congregation you attend. Whether you are aware of it or not, the activities of your congregation create certain thoughts, feelings and behaviors that make you who you are. In this way, your congregation has formative power.

Life together

I was reminded of the importance of being part of a religious community when a clergy person described a project happening in his congregation. He told me about a booklet being produced by the staff called Rule of Life. The Rule of Life is a guidebook outlining what it means to be part of the congregation.

The pastor says, “We want to encourage people to live a certain way of life.” Part of the guidebook is written as a catechism with answers to be learned and recited. Other parts of the guide describe specific practices in which one participates as a member of the congregation: at noon every day we are going to pray this Psalm.

If you read Psalm 23 every day, that Psalm is going to become part of who you are. The virtue of trust represented in the lines of the Psalm will more likely become part of your heart, mind and soul.

What elements are most formative in a congregation?

Of course, it depends on the particular congregation. I have observed and experienced the following activities having a positive impact on adherents:


  • Testimony, telling the story of their lives

  • Religious practices, particularly worship, prayer, singing, study of scripture, and rites of passages or sacraments

  • Reflection on practice: not just doing things but thinking about their impact with others

  • Relationships including across generations

  • Liminal experiences: pilgrimages, mission trips, cross-cultural experiences, spiritual retreats

Sharing stories

Here is an exercise to consider doing with a congregational board, team or class.

Remember a time when a congregational experience formed or reinforced a positive attribute in you. Write down the experience. Take turns sharing the stories out loud. Listeners are invited to ask open, curious questions to enhance group reflection. What themes are evident? What further growth might the congregation support?

Resources you can use

To consider this subject more, look at these resources: the books In Search of Wisdom, Community: The Structure of Belonging, and Living into Community.

 

 

book
When One Religion Isn't Enough: The Lives of Spiritually Fluid People
This book describes “religious multiplicity” - the reality of a person being formed by more than one religious community and tradition.
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