What Is Beloved Community?
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. popularized the notion of the “Beloved Community.” King envisioned the Beloved Community as a society based on justice, equal opportunity, and love of one’s fellow human beings.
As the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, we strive toward Becoming Beloved Community — we dream and learn and do the hard work to foster Beloved Communities where all people may experience dignity and abundant life and see themselves and others as beloved children of God. Together, we are growing as reconcilers, justice-makers, and healers in the name of Christ.
Below are resources to support those who are delving into issues like antiracism, LGBTQ+ inclusion, and loving our unhoused neighbors. Whoever you are, and wherever you are in your learning and action, we hope you find something that will bring clarity, healing, and a deeper understanding of God’s love for all God’s children.
Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.
— The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
While racism is often framed as hateful actions perpetrated individually, it’s important to zoom out and look at our culture and society. Many unconscious biases lurk beneath the surface of our psyches, informing how we relate to others. This isn’t our “fault” — which is to say, we didn’t wake up and decide to be prejudiced — but it’s the water we swim in every day. Harvard’s Implicit Association Test on Race found that 68% of respondents had a slight, moderate, or strong automatic preference for European American compared to African American; only 18% of respondents displayed little to no automatic preference.
Whether you're in the 68% or not, the way forward may not be clear. If you're fundamentally prejudiced, how can you possibly change? And if you're not prejudiced, why do you need to do anything differently? As the National Museum of African American History & Culture explains, "No one is born racist or antiracist; these result from the choices we make. Being antiracist results from a conscious decision to make frequent, consistent, equitable choices daily. These choices require ongoing self-awareness and self-reflection as we move through life." In other words, it's not about who we are; it's about what we do.
- Pretty Good: Are your kids too young to talk about race? (quick stats on childhood development)
- Life Kit from NPR: How White Parents Can Talk To Their Kids About Race (10-minute podcast)
- Parent Toolkit: How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism (article)
- CNN & Sesame Street: Racism Town Hall (videos)
- Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ: Racial Justice Resources for Families
- Peggy MacIntosh: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (article)
- National Museum of African American History & Culture: Talking About Race (learning resources and conversation guides)
- The Episcopal Church: Sacred Ground: A Film-Based Dialogue Series on Race & Faith (intended for small groups but could be done as a family)
- Ijeoma Oluo: So You Want to Talk About Race (book)
Our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Marc Handley Andrus, endorsed this statement from the Union of Black Episcopalians: “Recognizing that history cannot be undone and that we must move forward working for change, we invite all members of the Episcopal Church to join us in the fight to eradicate the systemic racism that has plagued our country and the Church.”
We find support for this throughout our sacred scripture. In his letter to the Galatians, St. Paul casts a vision of equity in Christian community: “You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28 CEB). Antiracist work is Christian work. Will we answer God’s call?
If you're interested in learning and doing more, we suggested connecting with one of these faith-based organizations engaging in antiracist work.
- The Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing: "The Center, which opened in October 2017, offers a model of prayerful education that forms and reforms individual and collective action: a defined curriculum, thoughtful training, pilgrimages, and dialogue. Guided by faith and led by intention, the Center will continue its important work until our work is no longer needed. We seek the beloved community and the rewards of living life in that community — free of racism." Check out the free, virtual Dismantling Racism trainings offered through December 2020.
- Faith in Action Bay Area: "A network of congregations and community leaders working to ensure that the dignity of all people in our community is upheld. We develop leaders, promote civic engagement, and lift up our faith values, in order to confront power and change systems. We envision a world in which all people receive the respect, justice, and opportunity they deserve." Check out the White Faith Leader Formation Series launched in June 2020, which has helpful information for both lay and ordained Christians.
- PACT: People Acting in Community Together: "A multi-faith, grassroots organization that provides leadership training and experience to community members of many different ethnic, religious and socio-economic backgrounds. Through PACT, people work together to solve the most pervasive social problems of our day. " Headquartered in San Jose, PACT does work all across the Bay Area and beyond.
We remember and honor the Indigenous people of North and South America, in particular the Ramaytush Ohlone, whose traditional land that we now occupy was taken from them. We give thanks for them and express our gratitude for their continued witness on how to live a life that is honorable. May we always remember that the Earth does not belong to us, that we belong to the Earth, and that we are all relatives in life. Help us to learn from our past mistakes and be instruments of justice and peace for all people in today’s world.
The Ohlone are the predominant Indigenous group of the Bay Area; specifically, the Ramaytush are the original occupants of the land now known as San Francisco and San Mateo Counties.
Learn more about the Ramaytush through the Association of Ramaytush Ohlone (ARO). For broader Ohlone history, past and present, visit the official websites of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe and the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust organized by Lisjan Ohlone women.
- Coming soon ...
For teens and adults:
- Teen Vogue: Colonialism, Explained (article)
- Kaitlin B. Curtice: Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God (book)
- As Christians, we are called to work for full inclusion of Native Peoples in the life and leadership of the church. Learn more through the Episcopal Church's Indigenous Ministries.
- If you feel moved to make a financial contribution, the Association of Ramaytush Ohlone (ARO) requested that funds be directed to the Sogorea Te' Land Trust.