Preserving the Beloved Community

Some of the beloved community that OEP thanks and appreciates for
their collected support; 2019.

Written by Mary E Boria, of the Anti-Racism Transformation Team, for the 2020 OEP Spring Newsletter. In response to the OEP value Beloved Community. 

Two months ago, around the beginning of March 2020, this would have been a very different discussion. The ongoing realities of life's struggle and increasing disparities between those with and those without privilege was a very familiar refrain. The stress and strain of poor and communities of color was evident in all aspects of people’s lives from health to income and feelings of safety and security in the world. Many made do (while others did not), and some at least held the hope that things would get better for their families and communities. A more direct and public outcry challenged the status quo to eliminate oppression and inequality. The Anti-Racist Transformation Team (ARTT) of On Earth Peace has helped to shape an understanding of the Beloved Community within the context of these realities. Dismantling systems that oppress, and transforming others, is a slow and arduous undertaking. Understanding the role of racism, gender oppression, and poverty have become foundational to the work of OEP. Changing culture and institutionalizing new practices takes time (even as we think of its urgency); 

But, in the midst of our slow but determined progress, out of the ashes comes the Coronavirus (COVID -19 ) early in 2020. The world stopped, and our lives have rapidly changed, leaving uncertainty, pain, and death to follow. For some, our relative comfort and security has turned to fear and massive loss.

What is the hope for the Beloved Community in our yet to be determined new reality? And how do we live out our values of anti-racism, non-violence, action towards justice, welcome and hospitality, and Radical Christian love?

Early in my social work career, we learned of the Chinese concept of  “crisis.” Crisis provokes danger and/or upheaval that is real and tangible. Yet in the midst of a crisis, there too is often an unacknowledged opportunity; the opportunity to act beyond just survival. While it is real that Power is often more attuned to taking advantage of the vulnerable during these times, there is also power, resiliency, creativity, and resourcefulness that everyday people have been known to mobilize. By witnessing, supporting, and participating in actions of everyday people to reduce harm, halt the abuse of power, and demand justice in all kinds of ways, we model the Beloved Community. Developing a deep analysis of the context and conditions which disadvantage groups of people in our various faith-based and secular spaces allows ARTT to leverage changes in policy and practice. ARTT’s work opens the door more widely, building more authentic and accountable relationships toward social change and social justice. 

 

Caucusing in OEP has fostered deeper conversations between People of color and white members to reflect on the ways socialization has shaped our lives and our worldview. Caucusing helps in the decision making and actions of OEP.

 

A significant crisis is a major disruption in all our lives and our communities; our experience of the Beloved Community may be strained in many ways. Often the urgency to adapt to a survival mode pushes us to succumb to forces we feel are beyond our control. Or we can mobilize our collective strength, resources, and allies, to preserve communities and practices that demand social change. Who we are as antiracists/social justice-loving Christians provides us the framework to transform outdated practices and build more authentic relationships within OEP, the Church of the Brethren, and in the world.


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