WE BELIEVE THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER Get Involved

Exploring Racial Equity Buddies

August 30, 2022 Antoinette Richardson

Exploring Racial Equity Buddies

The racial equity buddies concept was introduced to Forest Hill Church (“FHC”) about four years ago, by a frequent visitor and friend of FHC, Professor Mark Joseph*.  Saturday morning, September 17, via ZOOM (10:30 to noon), Mark will lead us as we meet to continue this program. Those wishing to attend can respond to racialequitybuddies@fhcpresb.org or register here: https://fhc.breezechms.com/form/0a3ab6.

The Racial Equity Buddy Program Explained

I. A buddy is a trusted companion where difficult discussions on race can be had. To be successful, this must be a safe space where two people can be honest and explore their equity journey:

a) On the personal level of combatting racism, to better explore racial stereotypes and barriers that separate us, Dr. Joseph recommends partnering with someone of a different background, culture, or race. Our partner should be a person with whom we feel comfortable having a candid and frank discussion on these issues. 

b) The partners should talk openly and honestly, without judgment, about one another’s experiences and views regarding race and racism. The key is to listen to each other and examine the world from your partner’s viewpoint. This shared experience, if faithfully done, should bring about greater understanding and appreciation of each other’s views and perhaps, result in a change in how each thinks and acts. 

c) One’s racial equity buddy can be someone from the same race. In FHC, that is necessary due to the asymmetrical ratio of black and white members. 

d) A racial equity buddy is NOT a personal trainer for his or her partner. Rather, where the buddies are of different races or cultures, the conversations should reflect the individual views of the participants. No black person should attempt to speak for or to represent all people of color and no white person should presume to speak for or to represent all white people.

e) Buddies are not assigned but choose to partner with each other.  Help is available in making a match.  Having multiple buddies is okay and changing buddies after a while is normal and beneficial.  

II. The racial equity buddy concept is a method for enlarging and changing individual awareness and perspectives, which hopefully will lead to transforming those institutions they are a part of:

a) Our premise is that in our racialized society, we all urgently need to be on a personal journey to remove the injustice and inequity in the organizations and institutions that we have inherited, that we depend upon, that we support. That requires each of us to look with improved vision at our role and responsibility in perpetuating or deconstructing the racial injustice and inequity that is still embedded in the inherited organizations and institutions on which our way of life depends. Our goal is to get the members and participating friends of FHC on this journey and to begin it with a trusted buddy with a different background and perspective;

   b) It must be appreciated that each individual is at a different point in their racial equity journey. We must be cognizant and appreciative that some of us are just beginning and are not as far along as others in this journey.  However, if there is a willingness to begin such a journey, those individuals are welcome. With such a buddy, one must be even more sensitive to the principles that discussions are to be a safe place and nonjudgmental. Some of us will be walking and others running. One needs to learn about his/her buddy and act accordingly.                                             

Other important aspects of the racial equity buddies include consistency, an open and curious mind plus a willingness to engage in respectful dialogue.   Embarking on a racial equity journey requires a willingness to explore the history of non-white cultures in America.  Be prepared to embark on a wonderful, colorful discovery tour and learn about hidden historical figures and events.

The impetus for resuscitating this program was  Deborah Plummer’s book Some Of My Friends Are… The Daunting Challenges and Untapped Benefits of Cross-Racial Friendships, which we read and discussed in June. That book reminded us of the importance of cross-racial friendships and discussions and motivated many – both in and outside of FHC – to reimplement the racial equity buddy program.

As implied, the book club works in tandem with the racial equity buddies. Reading and discussing the material of the book club will fuel your racial equity work. The book club introduces various topics and explores non-white culture in a safe, non-judgemental atmosphere. 

Our first book discussion takes place Saturday morning, October 25, where we will discuss the NY times bestseller and winner of the Christian Book Award, Be The Bridge, Pursuing God’s Heart For Racial Reconciliation, by Latasha Morrison. The book club adheres to the core principles of the equity buddies program outlined above.

PRAYING FOR CHANGE?

We must do more than pray. In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer,

“You can pray until you faint, but unless you get up and try to do something, God is not going to put it in your lap” Join us. Together we will pray and act!

*For those of you unfamiliar with Mark Joseph, here is a brief introduction. Mark Joseph, Ph.D. is the Leona Bevis/Marguerite Haynam Professor of Community Development at the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. His research focus is mixed-income development as a strategy for promoting urban equity and inclusion. He is the co-author of the award-winning book Integrating the Inner City: The Promise and Perils of Mixed-Income Public Housing Transformation and co-editor of What Works to Promote Inclusive, Equitable Mixed-Income Communities. He is the Founding Director of the National Initiative on Mixed-Income Communities, which conducts research and consulting projects in cities across the US and Canada. He serves on the Editorial Advisory Boards of the journals Cityscape, Housing Policy Debate, Journal of Community Practice, and Journal of Race and Ethnicity in the City. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, a Master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, was a Post-Doctoral Scholar at the University of Chicago, and a Harlech Scholar at Oxford University.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Coming Soon, Immigration Justice and Reform, Ministry Activities, Upcoming Events | No Comments »

Minutes of May 17, 2022 FHC Immigration Task Force Meeting

May 25, 2022 Julie Lustic

Attending: Gary and Julie Lustic, Steve Sedam, Sharon Shumaker, Quentin Smith, Nonie Stack, Virginia Weiss

Anne and Jeff Smith were unable to attend this evening. To help keep the task force informed, Jeff sent a couple of emails in advance of the meeting. They are summarized here:

The church continues to receive monthly donations of $100 from a person who lives in Twinsburg. She has faithfully been donating to the Sanctuary Fund in support of Leonor for a few years. Another person donated $500 to the Sanctuary Fund at the end of March. With funds available, Jeff is able to send Leonor Garcia financial support monthly. He believes the balance in the Sanctuary Fund remains at $1,209.

Emmanuel has been working a fair amount so he has money for his personal living expenses. Jeff asked for ideas on how Emmanuel’s iPhone can be inexpensively upgraded to at least an iPhone 7, either through a purchase or donation. 

The task force met on Zoom for an hour. Here is a summary of their deliberations.

The Task Force supports the purchase or donation of a new iPhone for Emmanuel. 

Sharon spoke to Leonor Garcia recently. Things seem to be going well in general. The application for Jose is proceeding. Eric is graduating from high school soon. Leonor wants to do another party like what was done for her wedding last fall but have this party be for Eric and Aidan; Eric in honor of his high school graduation and in celebration of Aidan’s birthday this summer. Details forthcoming.

Task Force members were asked for their evaluation of Bringing the Border Home. Their reaction was uniformly positive. Steve and Sharon presented a list of possible follow-up activities for the task force to consider as follow-up to Bringing the Border Home. There was consensus for:

Task Force will discuss in more depth later:

The next meeting of the Immigration Task Force is July 23 at 7 p.m.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Immigration Justice and Reform, Ministry Activities, Recent Events | No Comments »

Minutes of April 19, 2022 FHC Immigration Task Force Meeting

May 25, 2022 Julie Lustic

The presentation Anne Smith and Sharon Shumaker made at a recent Inter-Religious Task Force on Central America conference went well. They received a $100 donation for their time. These funds were deposited in the FHC Sanctuary Fund. 

The government of Canada is giving Idrissa and Issoufou $700/month until they receive work permits which should take only three months. In texts to Jeff Smith, Idrissa expressed considerable gratitude for the support he received while living at the church. We all miss them but are relieved to know they are well.

Everyone was pleased to see Leonor Garcia and her three boys at church on Easter. They all appeared to be doing well. Jose was working that morning and could not attend.

Sharon submitted an application for an Endowment grant for $5,000 total to assist Leonor with obtaining her work permit and with including Jose on her UVisa application. Jeff will inform Justice and Mission of the $750 of the previously approved Endowment grant (scholarships for a virtual tour) coming back to the Endowment as it is not being used.

An online educational forum, Bringing the Border Home, hosted by the ITF will take place on Sunday, April 24 and Sunday, May 1 from 9:30 – 10:30 on Zoom. Emily Miller with the Mennonite Central Committee has been exceptionally helpful.

Jeff will speak to the 4-person new members class (two young families) about the work of the task force.

The balance of the Education Fund for use by the Garcia/Bernal family is $3,238. The Asylum Fund (to support Emmanuel, Idrissa, and Issoufou) and the Sanctuary Fund (to support the Garcia/Bernal family) each have around $1,000 left.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Immigration Justice and Reform, Recent Events | No Comments »

Bringing the Border Home

April 21, 2022 Antoinette Richardson

Sunday, April 24 & Sunday, May 1, 2022; 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” — Matthew 25:35

The Immigration Task Force of Forest Hill Church Presbyterian invites you to attend “Bringing the Border Home,” a two-part online (Zoom) journey of education and action in support of immigrants seeking a better life. Learn about the current state of the immigration crisis and what you can do to help alleviate their suffering.

You will learn about:
Immigration History: “They are here because we are there”
Immigration beyond the US Mexico Border. government policy implications for people on the move
Border work from a Presbyterian perspective
Faith-Based Advocacy for positive change
As part of adult education at FHC, there is no charge for “Bringing the Border Home”. To register, click on this link fhc.breezechms.com/form/a8709f1462 and follow the prompts. Once you are registered, you will be sent the Zoom link to participate in the event and other information.

For more information, contact Sharon Shumaker at itf@fhcpresb.org.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Immigration Justice and Reform, Recent Events | No Comments »

Immigration Task Force

February 2, 2022 Antoinette Richardson

The Forest Hill Church Immigration Task Force would like to hear from you! The task force seeks to welcome the stranger by 1) providing support for Emmanuel, Idrissa, and Issoufou from Burkina Faso who live in the church while awaiting asylum and 2) Educating and mobilizing the church members and friends about the conditions and need for better treatment of immigrants at our border. We are preparing new initiatives for the new year and would like to be responsive to the interests of the FHC congregation and friends. We would greatly appreciate it if you could take just three minutes to respond to a five-question survey. Please click on the link below to begin. Thank you!

Gratefully,
The FHC Immigration Task Force
(Sharon Shumaker, Gary Lustic, Julie Lustic, Ron Register, Anne Smith, Jeff Smith, Quentin Smith, Stephen Sedam, Charity Stock, Virginia Weiss)

Immigration Task Force Survey: https://fhc.breezechms.com/form/975ed8.

Tags: , ,
Posted in Immigration Justice and Reform, Recent Events | No Comments »

Immigration Task Force (ITF) Minutes-October 17, 2021

October 26, 2021 Julie Lustic

Attending: Anne, Charity, Gary, Jeff, Julie, Quentin, Sharon, Steve, Virginia

Quentin Smith, as a representative of the FHC Black Caucus, has joined the Task Force with this being his first meeting. Welcome Q, glad you are part of the team!

Leonor and family

On October 16, 2021, Leonor and Jose were married by their home in Akron by Pastor John Lentz. Many from FHC attended the celebration. As a married couple, it will be easier for Jose to attain U.S. citizenship. When Leonor gets her U-Visa, she can then submit papers for her naturalization process. Jose can be included on the application whereby he too can become a U.S. citizen. The procedure is complicated. Letters of support are needed for Jose. The Task Force will submit such a letter.

Based upon their input, the Garcia family continues to receive financial support from the Sanctuary Fund. Jose and Leonor will discuss the use of the Sanctuary Fund and get back to us about this matter.

PCUSA request

Amanda Craft, from the PCUSA immigration office is working on an advent devotional to focus on immigration this year. They want immigration voices to be featured and reached out to Pastor Lentz who passed the request on to the Task Force. The devotional is to be about two and half pages and be based on the lectionary of the day. Jeff and Charity offered to work on this and have it ready by the due date of November 5. 

Tour of the Border

The Task Force had yet another robust discussion about creating a tour of the U.S./Mexico border as part of our efforts to educate the congregation at FHC and other interested persons about the ongoing injustices being perpetrated there and how we can respond effectively. The tour is in cooperation with the Mennonite Central Committee. Funds through the FHC Ministry of Justice and Mission have been pledged for scholarship support for those who wish to participate in a virtual border tour but have limited finances. Sharon and Steve will discuss what to do with the tour and prepare a plan to be presented at the next meeting.

Further task force meetings

The group decided to alternate between meeting in person and on Zoom. The next meeting will be on Wednesday, November 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the Smith’s home.

Tags: , ,
Posted in Immigration Justice and Reform, Recent Events | No Comments »

Columbus Dispatch Writes about Plight of Asylum Seekers

October 4, 2021 Julie Lustic

Forest Hill Church guests, Issoufou Lembane, Idrissa Kiema, and Emmanuel Sabo, are asylum seekers from Burkina Faso in West Africa. Their asylum cases were denied in January of 2020. They have been living at the church for almost two years while they await their appeals. Read more about their stories in the Columbus Dispatch at the link below.

https://www.dispatch.com/story/news/2021/09/23/asylum-seekers-receive-high-bonds-ohio-immigration-court-ohio-detainees/5788065001/

Tags: , ,
Posted in Immigration Justice and Reform, Recent Events | No Comments »

Burkina Faso 3 Updates

August 13, 2021 Julie Lustic

Issoufou, Idrissa, and Emmanuel have found many interests to keep them busy this summer.

They have had numerous landscaping jobs with both members and friends of members of Forest Hill Church. With each new job they are gaining confidence in their use of the English language, at least in the area of gardening. They now know about weeds, roots, edging, rototilling, shoveling yards of leaf mulch and soil, turning over beds, trimming bushes and planting. They have tidied up many a garden.

They have also been working hard at learning English. With both morning and afternoon ESL lessons with our dedicated volunteers several times a week, they are able to communicate quite well.

They have also been playing pickup soccer and riding their bikes around town. Here are a few pictures of them hard at work.

Tags: ,
Posted in Ministry Activities | No Comments »

Allied Organizations

August 12, 2021 Julie Lustic

Heights Friends of Immigrants (HFOI)

Heights Friends of Immigrants supports migrants and refugees locally in NE Ohio.  It provides education and takes action on various initiatives in defense and support of our immigrant sisters and brothers. Meetings are held on the first Tuesday evening of each month in rotation at St. Dominic Church, Forest Hill Church Presbyterian, and St. Paschal Baylon Church.

American Making Immigrants Safe (AMIS)

amisohio.org

The mission of AMIS is to inspire hope and contribute to the well-being of immigrants and families as they seek legal status in the United States by assisting with resources for legal services, education, basic living expenses, and self-sufficiency.

HOLA Ohio

holatoday.org

HOLA Ohio is based in Painesville with a mission to improve quality-of-life opportunities and empower the Latino community through outreach, education, civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and skills development.

Catholic Charities Cleveland

ccdocle.org

Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland administers over 165 individual programs spanning a wide range of services available to persons from all walks of life across the Diocese of Cleveland.

Cleveland Jobs with Justice

clevelandjwj.org

Cleveland Jobs with Justice is a coalition of labor, faith and community organizations working together to promote workers’ rights in the Cleveland area through collective action.

InterReligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF)

irtfcleveland.org

The InterReligious Task Force on Central America brings together people from various faith and secular communities to act in solidarity with oppressed peoples in southern Mexico, Central America, and Colombia through consciousness-raising and direct consumer and political advocacy to build long-term structural change.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

acluohio.org

The ACLU of Ohio is an affiliate of the national ACLU. Founded in 1920, the national ACLU includes more than 500,000 members in all 50 states, making it our country’s foremost advocate of individual rights.

PCUSA Office of Immigration Issues   

https://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/immigration/

The Office of Immigration Issues was established by action of the 216th General Assembly (2004) in order to provide legal advice and counsel to mid-councils and congregations regarding immigration issues.  The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has continued to expand the work of the Office by directing the Office to coordinate advocacy and education efforts and create worship materials.

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)

https://mcc.org/learn/what/categories/immigration

Mennonite Central Committee in the U.S. helps to educate about immigration issues, advocates for sensible humane immigration laws, works to build peace in communities along the U.S.-Mexico border, and provides documentation services to help immigrants navigate the complex immigration system.

The Advocacy Program of the Latin American and Caribbean (LACA) region of MCC facilities

https://www.mcclaca.org/latin-america-thecaribbean-laca-region/

MCC LACA facilitates contextual analysis, strategic planning for advocacy, organizational strengthening, and strategic connections between partners.  It supports local and national advocacy action with partners and churches in the region, and with churches and constituency in Canada and the United States to address the structural causes of poverty, violence, and injustice.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Immigration Justice and Reform, Recent Events | No Comments »

Allied Organizations

July 16, 2021 Julie Lustic

InterReligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF)

irtfcleveland.org

The InterReligious Task Force on Central America brings together people from various faith and secular communities to act in solidarity with oppressed peoples in southern Mexico, Central America, and Colombia through consciousness-raising and direct consumer and political advocacy to build long-term structural change.

HOLA Ohio

holatoday.org

HOLA Ohio is based in Painesville with a mission to improve quality-of-life opportunities and empower the Latino community through outreach, education, civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and skills development.

American Making Immigrants Safe (AMIS)

amisohio.org

The mission of AMIS is to inspire hope and contribute to the well-being of immigrants and families as they seek legal status in the United States by assisting with resources for legal services, education, basic living expenses, and self-sufficiency.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

acluohio.org

The ACLU of Ohio is an affiliate of the national ACLU. Founded in 1920, the national ACLU includes more than 500,000 members in all 50 states, making it our country’s foremost advocate of individual rights.

Cleveland Jobs with Justice

clevelandjwj.org

Cleveland Jobs with Justice is a coalition of labor, faith and community organizations working together to promote workers’ rights in the Cleveland area through collective action.

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)

https://mcc.org/learn/what/categories/immigration

Mennonite Central Committee in the U.S. helps to educate about immigration issues, advocates for sensible humane immigration laws, works to build peace in communities along the U.S.-Mexico border, and provides documentation services to help immigrants navigate the complex immigration system.

The Advocacy Program of the Latin American and Caribbean (LACA) region of MCC facilities

https://www.mcclaca.org/latin-america-thecaribbean-laca-region/

MCC LACA facilitates contextual analysis, strategic planning for advocacy, organizational strengthening, and strategic connections between partners.  It supports local and national advocacy action with partners and churches in the region, and with churches and constituency in Canada and the United States to address the structural causes of poverty, violence, and injustice.

Heights Friends of Immigrants (HFOI)

Heights Friends of Immigrants supports migrants and refugees locally in NE Ohio.  It provides education and takes action on various initiatives in defense and support of our immigrant sisters and brothers. Meetings are held on the first Tuesday evening of each month in rotation at St. Dominic Church, Forest Hill Church Presbyterian, and St. Paschal Baylon Church.

Catholic Charities Cleveland

ccdocle.org

Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland administers over 165 individual programs spanning a wide range of services available to persons from all walks of life across the Diocese of Cleveland.

PCUSA Office of Immigration Issues   

https://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/immigration/

The Office of Immigration Issues was established by action of the 216th General Assembly (2004) in order to provide legal advice and counsel to mid-councils and congregations regarding immigration issues.  The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has continued to expand the work of the Office by directing the Office to coordinate advocacy and education efforts and create worship materials.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Immigration Justice and Reform, Ministry Activities | No Comments » « Previous Entries