Minnesota Churches Reckon with Their Part in Institutionalized Racism

A dark church interior lit by suns rays penetrating through a glass window in the pattern of a crucifix shining on a speech pulpit - 3D render

The “Truth and Reparations” initiative focuses on the complicity of Christian faith communities in harm done to African-American and American Indian people.

Feven Gerezgiher reports:  


Last weekend the Minnesota Council of Churches hosted the first event of an initiative to bring racial equity to churches across the state.


Reverend Jim Bear Jacobs is Co-Director of Racial Justice for the council. He says the “Truth and Reparations” initiative started last year to focus on the complicity of Christian faith communities in harm done to African-American and American Indian people.


“Some of our historic congregations at the Minnesota Council of Churches were active congregations as the systems of white supremacy and institutionalized racism were built into the structure of Minnesota,” he said. “And this is really a call to hold churches accountable, and to be about what churches claim that they are about, which is the work of healing and repair. And so begins with telling the truth.”


The MN Council of Churches plans on a ten year process of truth telling, education, and reparations for its 27 member churches.


Last weekend’s event featured keynote speaker Christine Diindiisi McCleave, CEO of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. She spoke about persevering generational trauma resulting from Native American boarding schools and the erasure of indigenous culture.


Reverend Pamela Ngunjiri of St. Mark AME Church in Duluth says it is essential to acknowledge the past for healing to take place.


“We have to start at the beginning,” she said. “We have to start telling the truth, the true stories of history and how things have begun before we can even say anything about what we’re doing today.”



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