Responding to Racist Violence as the People of God

The confluence of the inequities revealed by COVID-19 and the systemic racism evident in recent acts of violence calls us to speak out, to fulfill our duty to protect the dignity of every child of God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. As our Presiding Bishop Curry wrote, "Love does not look like the silence and complicity of too many of us who wish more for tranquility than justice." Justice is love in action.

Most of us have a societal advantage that comes with being seen as the norm in America. It makes life smoother, and it's something we would barely notice unless it were suddenly taken away or didn't apply in the first place. We are in a unique position to make a difference by developing an awareness of systemic racism and fostering anti-racism in whatever we do and wherever we go. It takes some education, a lot of prayer and a willingness to step out of our comfort zone.

Each week the Outreach Community Service Committee will make suggestions under the categories LEARN, PRAY, ACT. One size does not fit all, but it's a start. If you have ideas, please let us know. We hope that these resources will serve to begin conversations that will be ongoing. Learning requires discernment. Prayer requires waiting upon God. Action is the fruit of these disciplines. Together, they provide us an opportunity to grow.

Here is an example of the suggestions: (This page will continue to grow with resources. Check back often.)


  • Understand Juneteenth (https://www.history.com/news/what-is-juneteenth).
  • View award winning documentary "13th" by Ava DuVernay on Netflix.
  • Read Waking up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving.
  • View TED Talk: How to Overcome Our Biases? Walk Boldly Towards Them by Verna Myers at TEDxBeaconStreet.
  • Read Jesus and the Disinherited, a 1976 classic by acclaimed theologian and religious leader Howard Thurman, who said he was attempting to explore “what the teachings of Jesus have to say to those who stand with their backs against the wall…the poor, the disinherited, the oppressed.”
  • Take a look at "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro,” a speech by Frederick Douglass before the Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society of Rochester, New York, July 5, 1852. Please select passages or quotations that struck you that you might wish to discuss.
  • Explore the online presence of the Equal Justice Initiative, founded by public interest attorney Bryan Stevenson. EJI believes we need a new era of truth and justice that starts with confronting our history of racial injustice and the dehumanizing myth of racial hierarchy. Read EJI’s brief descriptions of enslavement, racial terror lynching, segregation, presumption of guilt and mass incarceration. Or, look at some of the issues in depth through reports and videos available on the site. We expect to hold nuanced conversations in the future, as Mr. Stevenson encourages us to make use of his materials for this purpose.
  • First, read the story of Jesus’s encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in the Gospel of John 4:1-26.
  • Next, take a look at a short video, Renouncing Privilege at the well in Samaria, in which the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, finds an eye-opening lesson about racial privilege in this same story. Privilege is hard to see when you possess it and impossible to miss when you don't. Do you agree with her?
  • Finally, view or read Peter Vanderveen’s sermon from July 5, 2020, in which he said: “Civility isn’t enough. More important, more vital, is developing a renewed sense of love, which — I must insist — has nothing to do with affection or sentiment. For what love entails is seeing others through the lens of an infinite grace, which, because it is inexhaustible, cancels our disdain.”
  • According to University of Pennsylvania graduate and sociologist, Alice Goffman, in the U.S. two institutions guide teenagers on the journey to adulthood: college and prison. Ms.Goffman spent six years in a troubled Philadelphia neighborhood and saw first-hand how teenagers of African-American and Latino backgrounds are funneled down the path to prison — sometimes starting with relatively minor infractions. In a 16-minute TED Talk, she asks, "Why are we offering only handcuffs and jail time?" View TED Talk: How We’re Priming Some Kids for College and Others for Prison.
  • Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch wrote that the killing in Minnesota of George Floyd has forced the country to “confront the reality that, despite gains made in the past 50 years, we are still a nation riven by inequality and racial division.” To create an equal society, we must commit to making unbiased choices and being antiracist in all aspects of our lives.  Discussing race—from the inequity embedded in American institutions to our country’s long, painful history of anti-black violence to our own internalized biases—is an essential step in sparking meaningful societal change. To support these difficult conversations, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture launched a “Talking About Race” portal:  https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking-about-race/topics/being-antiracist. Visit this portal; it’s worth the effort.  Or, for an illustration of one aspect of racism, implicit bias, take a look at this 2 ½ minute video from the portal called “Implicit Bias:  Peanut Butter, Jelly and Racism”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JVN2qWSJF4
  • “In this country, American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.”  Toni Morrison
  • The American Anthropological Association states that "the 'racial' worldview was invented to assign some groups to perpetual low status, while others were permitted access to privilege, power, and wealth. The tragedy in the United States has been that the policies and practices stemming from this worldview succeeded all too well in constructing unequal populations among Europeans, Native Americans, and peoples of African descent." To understand more about race as a social construct in the United States, visit https://understandingrace.org/ (or copy and paste this in your browser). At the site test your knowledge of race and human variation: https://understandingrace.org/HumanVariationQuiz. Or learn about sports sterotypes: https://understandingrace.org/SportsQuiz
  • “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 the absence of making antiracist choices, we (un)consciously uphold aspects of white supremacy, white-dominant culture, and unequal institutions and society. Being racist or antiracist is not about who you are; it is about what you do.” (National Museum of African American History & Culture)

    Jane Elliott, a teacher and anti-racism activist, performed a direct experiment with the students in her classroom, demonstrating just how easy it is to learn prejudice. Watch Jane Elliot’s blue eyes/brown eyes racism experiment here.

  • To prepare for our Just Mercy discussions, watch a brief Trinity Church Wall Street video of Bryan Stevenson, in which he points out that our legacy of racial inequality has distorted and diseased us. The great evil of American slavery, he says, is not involuntary servitude but the ideology of white supremacy that we made up to make slavery look acceptable. View here.

  • How would you pray for Bryan Stevenson, the people he serves and us as we consider the issues of justice and mercy?

  • During our Just Mercy conversation on October 11, the issue of white privilege/advantage was raised.  The National Museum of African American History and Culture has developed an online portal to foster constructive conversation on this subject. The site begins by pointing out that “whiteness and white racialized identity refer to the way that white people, their customs, culture, and beliefs operate as the standard by which all other groups are compared.”  Go to Talking About Race - Whiteness to unpack this topic.

  • During our final Just Mercy discussion, we were reminded of the words of Portia in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice: “The quality of mercy is not strain’d; It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes…And earthly power doth then show likest God’s When mercy seasons justice…we do pray for mercy, And that same prayer doth teach us all to render The deeds of mercy.” (Act IV, Sc. 1) How can we show mercy to our fellow human beings, especially those who have been subjected to racial inequality and injustice?

  • In June our Bishop Daniel Gutierrez wrote: “More than just a personal prejudice, racism is a systemic and institutionalized problem that continues to find new ways to seep into our legal system, politics, prisons, and yes, even our churches. With tears in our eyes and Christ in our hearts, we must do everything we can to confront and dismantle the structures and systems that allow such injustices to occur.” His comments are applicable today.

  • “Not just an issue or a cause, anti-racism is a spiritual practice, a life’s work. For white people especially, it involves unlearning and changing long-held patterns of privilege that harm people of color. For all of us, it requires creating communities committed to racial honesty, support and healing.” Diocese of Pennsylvania Anti-Racism Commission

  • Former Eagles linebacker and now sports analyst Emmanuel Acho has created a video series called “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” as well as a book by that name “in order to educate and inform on racism, systemic racism, social injustice, rioting & the hurt African Americans are feeling today.” In the second episode Acho sits down with Matthew McConaughey, who asks “How can I help?” and introduces the term “white allergies.” View Episode 2 here

  • “Is my skin brown because I drank chocolate milk?”  Watch how Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, former president of Spelman College, answered her 3-year-old son when he told her that a classmate said his skin was brown because he drank chocolate milk.  To view the video, copy into your browser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_TFaS3KW6s

  • Is your bookshelf part of the problem? According to NPR commentator Juan Vidal "If you are white, take a moment to examine your bookshelf. What do you see? What books and authors have you allowed to influence your worldview and how you process the issues of racism and prejudice toward the disenfranchised?" For more of his commentary, go to: https://www.npr.org/2020/06/06/870910728/your-bookshelf-may-be-part-of-the-problem
    Listen to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's Call to Prayer for the Nation at https://episcopalchurch.org/.
    Have you heard of the Interfaith Community Prayer for Racial Justice, right here on the Main Line? It began last fall when members of many faith communities came together for nine weekly vigils focused on drawing sustained attention to the need for racial justice in Lower Merion and Haverford Townships, Philadelphia, and our nation. Now it is continuing online. Led by Molly Hicks of Old Haverford Friends Meeting and the Rev. Carolyn Cavaness of Bethel AME Church of Ardmore, this weekly gathering, open to all, will meet on Zoom each Wednesday from 5:30 to 6 pm. There will be opening and closing prayers, readings and/or songs as well as time for contemplation and meditation.


In this year alone, at least one person of color per month has died at the hands of police or people associated with justice departments. Pray with these names: William Green(Jan. 27), Ahmaud Arbery(Feb. 23), Manuel Ellis (March3), Breonna Taylor (March 13), Steven Demarco Taylor(April 18), Sean Read(May 6), George Floyd(May 25), David McAtee(June 1), Rayshard Brooks (June 12).

Pray For the Diversity of Races and Cultures

O God, who created all peoples in your image, we thank you for the wonderful diversity of races and cultures in this world.  Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of fellowship, and show us your presence in those who differ most from us, until our knowledge of your love is made perfect in our love for all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, p. 840

Excerpts from an Independence Day prayer by Bishop Alexander Viets Griswold, 1766-1843: O holy, righteous, and immortal God: we beseech thee to continue your merciful goodness to us and to our country. Give wisdom and strength and union to the government and people of these United States. May we be preserved from a trust in ourselves and from all vain confidence of boasting. May we never use our liberty for a cloak of maliciousness; but follow after charity and the things that make for peace. Preserve us, O Lord, from desolating judgments; from selfishness, discord, and contention. Be merciful to those who need the blessings we enjoy. We ask these things in the name and through the merits of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice, terror, disease and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer In Times of Conflict: O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. BCP Prayer 28, p. 824

Wake me up Lord, so that the evil of racism finds no home within me.
Keep watch over my heart Lord, and remove from me any barriers to your grace that may oppress and offend my brothers and sisters.
Fill my spirit Lord, so that I may give services of justice and peace.

For Prisons and Correctional Institutions (BCP 37, p. 826)
Lord Jesus, for our sake you were condemned as a criminal: Visit our jails and prisons with your pity and judgment. Remember all prisoners, and bring the guilty to repentance and amendment of life according to your will, and give them hope for their future. When any are held unjustly, bring them release; forgive us, and teach us to improve our justice. Remember those who work in these institutions; keep them humane and compassionate; and save them from becoming brutal or callous. And since what we do for those in prison, O Lord, we do for you, constrain us to improve their lot. All this we ask for your mercy’s sake. Amen.
(From USCCB A Prayer Service for Racial Healing in our Land)

O God, you have bound us together in a common life.  Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, to work together with mutual forbearance and respect, and to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Creator God, you have made us not in one mold, but in many:  so deepen our unity in Christ that we may rejoice in our diversity.  New Zealand Prayer Book, p. 615

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (BCP 39, p. 827)

Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (BCP 39, p. 827)

O Lord, fill us with your mercy so that we, in turn, may be merciful to others.  Strip away pride, suspicion, and racism so that we may seek peace and justice in our communities.  Strengthen our hearts so that they beat only to the rhythm of your holy will.  Amen.

O Lord, fill us with your mercy so that we, in turn, may be merciful to others. Strip away pride, suspicion, and racism so that we may seek peace and justice in our communities. Strengthen our hearts so that they beat only to the rhythm of your holy will. Amen.

Philadelphia is in the news, with the deadly October 26 Police shooting of 27-year-old Walter Wallace, Jr. who struggled with mental health issues, after his mother called the Police for help. Pray with the name of Walter Wallace, Jr. Pray for his mother and father, his family, his friends and his neighbors, for all in the Philadelphia Police Dept. as well as local and state public officials.  

Wake me up Lord, so that the evil of racism finds no home within me. Keep watch over my heart Lord, and remove from me any barriers to your grace that may oppress and offend my brothers and sisters. Fill my spirit Lord, so that I may give services of justice and peace. Clear my mind Lord, and use it for your glory. And finally, remind us Lord that you said, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God." Amen.

(From USCCB A Prayer Service for Racial Healing in our Land)

A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is n pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

For the Care of Children
Almighty God, heavenly Father, you have blessed us with the joy and care of children: Give us calm strength and patient wisdom as we bring them up, that we may teach them to love whatever is just and true and good, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.  (BCP 46)

I Dream A World- Poem by Langston Hughes
I dream a world where man No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white, Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-Of such I dream, my world! 
Prayer for the Human Family
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our heart; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in the bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
You are invited to pray with the Interfaith Community. Prayer, meditation or other forms of contemplation can be renewing and uplifting and also provide a time to increase awareness and search our souls.


  • Seek and pay attention to the stories of people who are different from you, especially those of oppressed people.
  • Sign up to provide food for the people of Darby on our website.
  • Consider how we can manifest God’s love to the world:
  • Look for God’s presence in someone or some group that differs from you.
  • Be intentional about honoring God’s image in one another.
  • Visit The Episcopal Public Policy Network website, and learn about the grassroots network of Episcopalians across the country dedicated to carrying out the Baptismal Covenant call to "strive for justice and peace" through the active ministry of public policy advocacy.
  • Listen without ego and defensiveness to people of color. Truly listen. Don’t scroll past articles written by people of color — Read them.
  • Sign up to provide support to Interfaith Hospitality Network during Redeemer’s host week, July 26-August 2.
  • In his July 26 homily based on the parables in Matthew 13, (https://RedeemerBrynMawr.sermon.net/main/main/21633123), Michael Palmisano said “the Kingdom of Heaven is the active reign of God over all creation…For many of us the Kingdom of Heaven and the hope it espouses will only be understood from a position of solidarity with those who need it the most.” One way to live this out is to ensure the school your children attend is actively working to create a culture of anti-racism and relationship building and has a clear policy of zero tolerance for racial slurs, violence, micro-aggression and oppression.
  • On August 14 Peter Vanderveen wrote: “Whom do you see when you look at someone else?  Honestly.  Do you see someone whose class makes them admirable or despicable, someone who deserves adulation or scorn?  Practice seeing the image of God in every person you interact with, see,come across, deal with.  We are all created in the image of God, no matter what labels we put on ourselves or others.”
  • Buy books, choose TV shows and movies, and opt for toys for your kids, nieces, nephews, and children of friends that show people from different races, religions, and countries and that speak to the love of God.
  • Sign up for the Diocese of PA’s webinar “Racism and Active Accountability,” Saturday, October 17, 9 am to Noon: https://www.diopa.org/events/racism-and-active-accountability-10-17-20. We will explore the many layers of systemic racism in the United States and consider the ways in which we may be actively accountable for identifying, resisting and responding to the racism that shows up in our lives and the institutions we lead. 
  • Since a group field trip is currently not feasible, make a virtual visit to the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration curated by the Equal Justice Initiative. This is an engine for education about the legacy of racial inequality and for the truth and reconciliation that leads to real solutions to contemporary problems. During your overview note your reactions. What surprises you? Hold onto your thoughts for our upcoming group discussions. Enter here.
  • Moved by the words and work of Bryan Stevenson, the Outreach Community Service Committee planned a discussion of Just Mercy for the early spring, when we couldn’t gather. Now in collaboration with the Adult Ed Committee, we will be meeting to talk about Just Mercy on Sundays, October 4, 11 and 18 at 4 pm. Details, along with discussion questions, are available in this issue of the News. We encourage everyone to participate!!!

  • There’s still time to take part in a discussion of Bryan Stevenson’s book, Just Mercy.  Join us on Zoom, Sunday, October 18 at 4 pm. Details, along with discussion questions, are available in this issue of the News.  Zoom information is on the church calendar.  This is life-changing.  Come and see!!!

  • What is our calling? Individually? As a community? Those who participated in the Just Mercy conversations suggested many possible “next steps” to help dismantle racism: learning the history of slavery and racism; engaging in advocacy; offering another book or video discussion; holding open conversations with people of color; making financial contributions to nonprofits such as Equal Justice Initiative; participating more fully in organizations Redeemer supports (IHN, St. James School, Darby Mission); supporting the outreach efforts of groups to which we personally belong; signing up for diversity training. We have been invited to pray and discern where we feel we are being called individually and as a community. What are your thoughts? What do you feel passionate about? Please let Michael Palmisano, Jo Ann Jones or Barbara Billings know.  

  • Do some internal work. “What can White people do to be allies to People of Color, and especially to Black people, in this particular moment?” writes Philadelphia-based race educator, Ali Michael. In her article, “What can White People Do?” Michael suggests white people learn the names and stories of those who have died, reach out to friends of color who are struggling right now, and ask some deep personal questions on race in your own life. Read more here. Or copy this into your browser: https://medium.com/@ali.s.michael/what-can-white-people-do-6a5e5d88eb53

  • Sign up for an Introduction to Systemic Racism sponsored by the Diocesan Anti-Racism Commission. This fast-paced online webinar will take place on Saturday, November 14, from 8:30 am to Noon. It is an introduction to the four-part series exploring the multi-layered manifestations of systemic racism in the U.S. Click or copy this link into your browser https://www.diopa.org/events/introduction-to-systemic-racism-11-14-20

  • How can we help? Acho suggests we try to look at things from the perspective of African Americans.  We are not that far removed from slavery and Jim Crow. Ask whether we are part of the problem, and take ownership of the problem. What “white allergies” might each of us have?   Promote conversation.  Be a proactive anti-racist. 

  • Go to www.raceconscious.org/2016/06/100-race-conscious-things.. to read “100 race-conscious things you can say to your child to advance racial justice.”  Then implement a few.  Give gifts of books featuring children of different colors, which offer opportunities for conversation.  Best-selling author Ibram X. Kendi’s Antiracist Baby Board Book is one.

  • For a fresh start to the New Year, de-colonize your bookshelf:
    • Add books written by black, brown and indigenous people.
    • Purge books that are racist; do not let these voices dominate your library.
    • Don't pigeonhole authors of color; they can do more than talk about race. Pick books from your favorite genre written by authors of color.
  • Pray for the people and leaders of our nation during this unprecedented time.
     It is up to us to dismantle systemic racism. Each gathering of the Interfaith Community Prayer for Racial Justice will provide time for prayer and also offer at least one concrete action item to take into the remainder of the week. Begin by joining next Wednesday at 5:30 on Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/99313514127?pwd=b01UM09XUkZsQ2RNQ1lUYnRYbDdmQT09
    Meeting ID: 993 1351 4127 Passcode: 500383See you there!
    For more resources and ideas from this series follow this link or email Outreach Community Service Committee chair Barbara Billings.

Suggestions: Email Outreach Community Service Committee chair Barbara Billings

This page will continue to grow with resources. Check back often.

Last Published: January 29, 2021 11:09 AM