Copy
Swedenborgians in Action Against Racism
Hi everyone. This newsletter is for Swedenborgians (and friends) who want to learn how to support anti-racism. But we are not going to pretend that we are experts here; we are learning alongside you. There are lots of activists and educators who have been working in the anti-racism field for a long time. Our plan (in the words of Meera Mohan-Graham) is to Absorb and Amplify those voices, and follow their lead. So, the items in this newsletter are mostly links and excerpts pointing you towards other resources.

As we all strive to learn, change, and act together, we invite you join the Manifold Angels Facebook group for connection throughout the journey. The work is just beginning. 


This is an (approximately) bi-weekly newsletter. One issue per month will be a deep dive into a particular issue (you can find links to these at the end of the newsletter). The alternating issues will be more personal/devotional, aiming to help build stamina and commitment for the ongoing work for racial justice. Thanks for joining us!
SEEK TO UNDERSTAND THIS:
Civic Engagement

What is Civic Engagement? Civic Engagement happens any time someone takes action to better their community and encourages others to do it, too.

Civic Engagement 101 “A morally and civically responsible individual recognizes himself or herself as a member of a larger social fabric and therefore considers social problems to be at least partly his or her own; such an individual is willing to see the moral and civic dimensions of issues, to make and justify informed moral and civic judgments, and to take action when appropriate.” SAU Library 

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND THE CHURCH

"Civic engagement includes the myriad ways people seek to exert influence on society, from voting and protesting, to social services, disaster response and community organizing." Civic Engagement, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, University of Southern California.

"Every major faith — Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism — has a set of values grounded in the pursuit of justice and equity. This universalism is important. It creates the potential for far-reaching, welcoming movements that cut across boundaries of race, class, sect and nationality." Why Interfaith Organizing Matters: Social Change Starts with Values

 

Congregation-based community organizations (CBCOs) “seek to establish interfaith, cross-class, multiethnic and multiracial grassroots organizations in order to increase community, build a more powerful civil society, and make civic, regional, and statewide changes for justice.

Congregation-based community organizing offers a means to be part of the restorative work to which people of faith are called. It also deepens and expands the possibility for us to be in right relationship with people outside our own congregations — to form, through citizen politics, a covenant that makes the many one and heals the us-versus-them polarization of people.” Systemic Change: Congregation-Based Community Organizing 

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND THE SWEDENBORGIAN CHURCH OF NORTH AMERICA

We all want to help our neighbor and help make the world a better place through useful action. But sometimes it is hard to know how to have a meaningful impact. The Swedenborgian tradition encourages people of faith to be active and conscientious citizens. In the Spirit in Action: Civic Engagement and Religious Life series, Swedenborgians in Action Against Racism (SAAR) is exploring this aspect of the Swedenborgian tradition as well as concrete ways to be civically engaged. This non-partisan event series, designed to support civic action generally, without preference to specific issues, takes place online from 7:30-9:00 pm Eastern Time on Jan 31, Feb 28, Mar 28, April 25, and May 23. Click here to register.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The Spirit in Action: Civic Engagement and Religious Life series began on January 31 with a lecture, Swedenborg’s Civic Engagement Retrospectively Considered, by Rev. Jim Lawrence, D.Min., Ph.D.

 

Jim summarizes his lecture below and includes a PDF of his slide deck exploring: Our Current Context, Swedenborg among the Politically Engaged, and Social Justice Foundations in Swedenborg’s Theology.

Since Swedenborg plays an exceptionally influential role in our tradition, it is worth asking how he approached the matter of action in the social arena as part of his faith commitments. Though he did not address specific social issues in his theological works (explicit social justice theology as we know it today arises in the century after Swedenborg) and though there were compelling social problems in his world, not the least being an active slave trade, Swedenborg did nevertheless live a life of remarkable commitment to civic engagement, and his theology contains both foundation and vision for a social justice arc to help us today.

Due to his father’s own foremost role at the highest levels of the church and society, Swedenborg’s family became ennobled when he was 31, and as the oldest surviving male child Emanuel began serving in the Swedish Parliament at that early age. His contributions to government rise to a level of considerable significance, especially in the areas of economics and advocacy of a more democratic voice in government. This include his support for the House of Clergy in Parliament, and we can infer from this that he viewed the religious voice as a crucial component in establishing public laws and policies.

If we have eyes to see, social justice foundations are built into Swedenborg’s theology. Love in action is central to regeneration, and such love always orients to the degrees of who is the neighbor to be loved. The national social order moves toward the larger scale of our true neighbor and thus very much entails civic engagement. His legendary engaged spirituality of usefulness certainly applies toward facilitating goodness in this larger degree of our neighbor and that means social justice work. Finally, we can additionally locate love to the larger degrees of neighbor in his concept of the maximus homo—the universal human—a social understanding that we live deeply connected to all of society. Our vision of love in action always must take the whole into consideration.

Swedenborg’s Civic Engagement.pdf

COMING UP NEXT

Interfaith Advocacy 101 (led by the Friends Committee on National Legislation) 

Monday February 28th, 7:30-9pm EST on Zoom.  Click here to register.

  • What does interfaith advocacy look like in Washington DC?

  • Who is FCNL, what does FCNL do?

  • How do members of Congress react to faith-based advocacy?

  • Why is faith based advocacy important?

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

How might you/your congregation get involved? One way is by joining forces with a faith-based organizing network. There are five major FAITH-BASED ORGANIZING networks in the country:

  • Industrial Areas Foundation The work of the Industrial Areas Foundation flows directly from a commitment to the values embodied in our Abrahamic religious traditions and our democratic political traditions. From these roots, IAF nurtures the growth of varied organizations and relationships that equip families and communities to participate with power in the public decisions that impact their lives.

  • PICO California Building a world where everyone belongs, everyone thrives, and has agency over their lives. PICO California supports grassroots organizing which enables people of faith to build power to reshape their lives and their communities. Our network of organizations trains leaders and equips them with tools to fight racism and build a more equitable and just society.

  • DART We believe in the scriptural story of justice. Across faith traditions, scripture lays out a story of abundance, love, hope, promise, and community. In this story, loving God and your neighbor as yourself gives life meaning. We believe that fighting for justice is fundamental to our identity as people of faith.

  • Gamaliel Network Gamaliel was founded in 1986 to train community and faith leaders in building political power and creating organizations that unite people of diverse faiths and races. Our mission is to empower ordinary people to effectively participate in the political, environmental, social and economic decisions affecting their lives. Gamaliel’s diverse members apply their faith and values to the pursuit of equal opportunity for all, shared abundance, and stronger, more prosperous communities.

  • InterValley Project IVP offers a national model of community economic empowerment. Its regional organizations of congregations, labor union locals, community and tenant groups combine citizen organizing and democratic economic development strategies to save and create jobs, affordable housing and critical public services in some of the oldest and poorest industrial areas in the nation.

The Faith in Action Community Organizing Model In Faith in Action’s congregation-community model, congregations of all denominations and faiths serve as the institutional base for community organizations. Rather than bring people together simply based on common issues like housing or education, the faith-based or broad-based organizing model makes values and relationships the glue that holds organizations together.

Faith in Action builds community organizations based on religious congregations, schools and community centers, which are often the only stable civic gathering places in many neighborhoods. As a result Faith in Action federations are able to engage thousands of people and sustain long-term campaigns to bring about systematic change at all levels of government.

FOR EDUCATORS

Civic engagement (video) | Citizenship | Khan Academy Definition and examples of civic engagement.

The Civically Engaged Classroom is packed with practical guidance designed to support teachers in giving students the skills, knowledge, and tools to be active participants in society.

Lesson plan: Civic engagement and how students can get involved | Lesson Plan | PBS NewsHour Extra  What rights and abilities do you have as a U.S. citizen when it comes to advocating for issues you believe in? Use [this] lesson plan [...] to discuss civic engagement and the role citizens play in making our voices heard.

FROM THE SPIRIT
Spirit of Justice, creator Spirit;
help us to make and keep this country
a home for all its different peoples,
and grant to our government and all its representatives
imagination, skill and energy
that there may grow amongst us good neighborliness and peace. Amen.

(A New Zealand Prayer Book)
PREVIOUS ISSUES
Police Brutality
Intersectionality and LGBTQ Rights
White Privilege/White Fragility
Voting Rights and Voter Supression
Indigenous Rights
Racism in Education
Racism in Healthcare

Images of God

Anti-Racism Resources for Kids
Black History Month
Intersectional Feminism/Anti-Asian Racism
Environmental Racism
Microaggressions
Critical Race Theory
Immigration Rights and Xenophobia
Restorative Justice
 

Just a note: the various viewpoints included in these newsletters (either by authors of content or the organizations they represent) do not necessarily represent the viewpoint or position of the Swedenborgian Church of North America (SCNA). The editors present them in the spirit of learning and reflection. 

(Editors: Rev. Shada Sullivan and Lori Gayheart)

Want to be added to this email list? Send your email to revshada@gmail.com

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.