Collecting stories to help us understand Black experiences in our churches

Primary Media
The Sankofa bird, a West African symbol of a bird with a long neck, turning its head to look back. This version is brilliantly multicoloured - red, yellow, black, and orange..
The Sankofa bird
Credit: Logo for the Sankofa Global Project, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Published On: January 20, 2021
Body

It isn’t hard to rhyme off statistics that show racism is alive and well. For example, third-generation Black Canadians make about $32,000 a year compared with the $48,000 earned by those who aren’t a visible minority. While 94 percent of young Black Canadians want to complete a university degree, just 60 percent think it is possible. And Black Canadians are more likely than any other racial group in Canada to be the victims of hate crime, perhaps not surprising considering the last segregated school in Canada didn’t shut its doors until 1983.

February is Black History Month. Since 1996, Canadians have set aside this time to recognize the realities faced by people of African descent and honour their contributions.

It’s the perfect month to make this announcement:

Thanks to support through Mission & Service and the United Church Foundation, six young Black adults will begin to collect stories from Black church members about their experiences in the church as well as their knowledge of Black church history. This fall, they will facilitate online gatherings to share learnings. The project runs through December 2021.

“Hopefully, the young adults will gather prophetic stories that help us understand Black experiences in our churches. The aim isn’t so much to identify what we do wrong. It’s not about blame. It’s about hearing the experiences and asking ourselves ‘Where do we go from here?’” says Emo Yango, who works in the United Church’s Communities in Mission unit. Yango adds that one of the aspects of the project he finds exciting is building leaders. “We lack resources from Black voices, especially younger ones. We are building leaders. These leaders will help us live into our commitment to become an anti-racist church.”

Church members who would like to share their experiences or learn more about the project can contact Emo Yango.

Becoming anti-racist is an ongoing journey of transformation. Your gifts through Mission & Service help us take vital steps forward. Thank you for helping to build stronger Christian communities and a better world.