Racial Reconciliation

“Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”

Becoming Beloved Community in the Diocese of Northern Michigan

November 8, 2021
Racial Reconciliation

By Rick Stanitis of the Becoming Beloved Community team in the Diocese of Northern Michigan

The Becoming Beloved Community (BBC) team of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan began in April of 2019 when a group attended a BBC workshop in the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio. This gathering inspired many of the attendants to journey together in the important work of dismantling systematic racism in our church and communities.

We learned at this Province V event that efforts are going on all around the church and the province. We were eager to share the work in our diocese and hear from other people. Our team explained our local context and shared that the five Indigenous nations in our diocese will continue to be the priority of our team. There are many ways that we are moving forward in Northern Michigan—here are two of the many projects.

Workshops for personal development and to acquire the skills necessary to improve communication, reduce tensions, and deal with prejudices are happening virtually and in-person across the diocese. “Our Shared Humanity: Finding Common Ground in a Divisive World” has been revised by the author and has materials that lead to dialogue. This workshop is often the first step for individuals as they start the transformational journey to become members of a church that looks and acts like Jesus.

A new curriculum and toolkit have been completed that incorporate the “Seven Grandfather Teachings” found in North American Indigenous cultures. The goal is to start a pilot program of peace camps for middle and high school youth in the diocese during the summer of 2022. After the pilot program, plans for other camps in the summer of 2023 will be made. Youth will learn skills to approach their problems peacefully and create their own solutions to the injustices they see in the world.

Becoming Beloved Community is not a program or seasonal activity or something that you do when you are asked by others to participate. This is a paradigm shift. It is a new way of being, a way of opening your mind and heart to the Spirit of God. Becoming Beloved Community is not a “one and done” or a training that is required for ministry. It is an ongoing transformation that we must fully embrace in the most gentle and genuine way that we can.

We experience this as a change that comes from the heart and will make our community a more welcoming place for all children of God. So, join a group, read a book, engage in learning opportunities to educate yourself in the overdue work of dismantling systematic racism. It is up to each of us to create a better world for everyone–a world where racism is not destroying lives. Be the person who brings about the change that gives life, and work toward Becoming Beloved Community.

Rick Stanitis coordinates and convenes the Becoming Beloved Community team for Northern Michigan.  He is the campus missioner for the Diocese and is located at Canterbury House in Houghton, MI.

The photo below is of the Becoming Beloved Community team of the Diocese of Northern Michigan, gathered at Bellwether Farms in The Diocese of Ohio in April 2019. From left to right: Arlene Gordanier, Rick Stanitis, Deb Nedeau, Kathy Vanden Boogaard and Bud Nedeau.