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Workshop equips youth leaders to teach anti-racism

Posted: April 25 2024 at 06:28 AM
Author: Al Benson

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Chicago and suburban church youth leaders gathered at Wesley United Methodist Church in Aurora on April 13 to explore laying the groundwork for friendships and alliances to fight racism.  

"Becoming the Beloved Community: Disciplining Anti-Racist Youth,"  a morning workshop, was presented by the Anti-Racism Task Force of the Northern Illinois Conference. It was developed specifically for leaders of youth based on the Becoming Beloved Community Workshop that is offered to churches.

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Rev. Matthew Krings, pastor at Berry UMC in Chicago and a task force member, welcomed participants. He said the workshop aims to provide a deeply reflective and contemplative discernment about systemic racism and ways to address it.  

The workshop facilitator was Richard R. Guzman, professor emeritus at North Central College in Naperville and a member of the conference ARTF.  

“This workshop conveys facts and essential knowledge about race and racism,” Guzman said. “We seek to help participants experience some of the harm and hurt racial prejudice has caused.  

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“The workshop emphasizes engagement, not confrontation. To make progress on race, we have to stay engaged, even with people we disagree with.” 

Trained facilitators led story sharing, helping people connect personally with presentations. Small-group discussions followed presentations. 

Guzman added that the program re-balances views of the personal vs. the systemic. “Though we talk about the harm personal racism causes, we also have to become aware of systems,” Guzman said. 

Relationships are paramount, he emphasized. Through friendships and alliances, people can unite to counter racism. The workshop is respectful while confronting hard issues. Guzman concluded. 

The program was launched by a pilot workshop for churches in 2021 at Friendship UMC in Bolingbrook. Other churches hosting the workshop are North Shore UMC, First UMC in Glencoe, First UMC in Elmhurst, and First UMC in Elgin. 

Part 2 of the workshop will be happening on May 18. All are welcome (no need to have attended part 1). Learn more

Learn more about the Becoming Beloved Community Workshop

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