Episcopalian “white privilege” — alive and well at St. John’s in Aptos?

  Episcopalian “white privledge” —  alive and well at St. John’s in Aptos? Are there ways to address it?  Yes to both!

An important  issue to  think about:   how does  the structure of the  church — intentionally or unintentionally — leave out voices that are  not part of the governing structure?   Voices of color for example. And what can the church  do about it?

 One issue is wealth.

Similar   to the city of  Santa Cruz CA,  St. John’s Episcopal in Aptos is  all white   and —  rich.

That  ALL ARE WELCOME  — certainly said often at many churches including St. John’s  —    is  visibly more  apparent  at  some nearby Catholic churches.  Just look at the makeup of who is in the pews and that’s obvious.

Per the new rules passed by St. John’s   episcopal board of directors, there’s numerous  steps (i.e.. 11)  to meet in order to be eligible to  serve on the board of directors (vestry).

All of the persons currently serving on  St. John’s  vestry  are white.

And — per a casual inspection of the church registrar —  all potential vestry persons who could be eligible to serve  — are also white.

Persons who attend services  have a “voice” and may  “speak”.   But, all decisions at St. John’s  concerning the  management of the corporate body of the church are made by white folk.

There are many ways that St. John’s can make ‘All are Welcome’ more of a reality.  Here’s just a few  easy to implement ways:

   1)  Connect on a daily basis with the  numerous youth who come  every afternoon to play basketball and skateboard  on the St. John campus. How?  Cabrillo College is very close.   Hire a Black basketball player  connected with Cabrillo  — a young man age 18 – 22  who wants to spread the Good News of God’s love.    Have him out there 2 hours a day Monday through Friday in the afternoons.  A nice part time job for a up and coming black athlete at Cabrillo.   Hire someone who can  be a  role model for youth.  And, encourage movement from playing  basketball to participating in youth group activities available through  the church. And connect that program with the youth program at nearby Resurrection Catholic Community.

   2) Advertise the ‘basket ball’ program with a large sign next to the Services on Sunday  sign.  Put up something  in bright colors  that says  PIZZA & Basketball from 4 to 5 PM!.   That will draw more youth.

 

   3)  Put a new  picnic table over near the basket ball hoop.  A  table  where a family member could sit and share a bite to eat as they watch the youth play.  That makes it easy for  parents to watch their children.  This will be an easy way for St. John people to connect  and say ‘hello’. Welcome!  Come back on Sunday and other days …

    4)  Take down the scary   blue handicapped parking signs that say $250 fine if you park in a handicapped spot.  Replace with more friendly Reserved for Persons with Limited Mobility signs.   The  mere possibility of a $250 fine is not a friendly act.

 

 

    5)  Directly in front of the ENTRANCE area, put up a 8 foot metal bench.  Put the bench by the back entrance to the Cafe.    Sitting on it one can look out towards the park and the ocean.  A lovely spot for a bench.   People with mobility issues can sit and wait for a ride. There are lots of older people who might need to sit there.    People needing to drop off supplies can put supplies  on the bench.   There are no benches around St. John’s.   Take a look around nearby  churches (Coastlands, Resurrection, Christ Lutheran). They all  have benches.  Benches are  one more way to be more welcoming to the Stranger and to the Newcomer.

    6)  Schedule  various outside music groups to sing during the Coffee hour time.  The Threshold Singers for example. They sing in small groups of three for persons needing healing or at their  bedsides. Deliberately bring in outside singing groups right at the end of Sunday services.  Welcome the Singing Community of Santa Cruz county.

7)  Make the music sung at the beginning  more welcoming.  For example,

A  song to paste  in the back of the hymnal at St. John’s — and sing  — is  ALL ARE WELCOME   by MartyHaugen:

“Let us build a house where hands will reach beyond the wood and stone, to heal and strengthen, serve and teach, and live the Word they’ve known.

“Let us build a house where all are named, their songs and visions heard and loved and treasured, taught and claimed as word within the Word.

“Built of tears and cries and laughter, prayers of faith and songs of grace, let this house proclaim from floor to rafter.  All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.”

 And —  perhaps in the front of the hymnal at St. John’s — paste another good song to sing:

THE GOD OF SECOND CHANGES

“Come now, O God of second chances; open our lives to heal.  Remove our hate, and melt our rage. Save us from ourselves.

“Come now, O God of second chances; may we forgive ourselves, may we become your living sign: Children of God’s love.”        [wrjitten by David Haas]

 

Yes — there are lots of ways for churches such as St. John’s to be deliberately more welcoming to all people.  Above are just a few ways.

Akin to  throwing pebbles into still waters and seeing the those ripples go  out  —  small changes in how a church welcomes the Stranger and Newcomer  may over time  change the composition of the Membership and  the Board of Directors.

written by Cameron Jackson

 

 

 

 

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