By Pr. Perucy Nyanjula Butiku
In my previous job, I was prepared to represent my government (Tanzania) at the United Nations on the Political, Social, Human Rights and Cultural Issues Committee. My duty was to represent and defend the policies of my government. Unknowingly, God was preparing me to serve him and to preach the Gospel and show the love of Christ to all.
In 2015, our Synod Assembly passed a resolution on anti-racism. This was a bold step because many people who have never felt effected by racism and discrimination of any kind are normally reluctant to talk about racism. This was our first step for all of us in this synod to take a journey together while learning from each other and listening to one another.
The Christian belief about the human person come from the scriptures. It is from the Word of God that we are taught that all are endowed with a rational soul and are created in God’s image; they have the same nature and origin and, being redeemed by Christ, they enjoy the same divine calling and destiny; there is here a basic equality between all men and it must be given ever greater recognition.
Racism is a mix of power, privilege, and prejudice. It is sin, a violation of God’s intention for humanity. Our synod has taken a stand, to work hard to erase racism, because racism and prejudice are a reality, but this is not how life for a Christian should be. A one or two year project cannot do the job. It is something we must agree that takes longer.
Our synod created an Anti-Racism Task Force as was required by the assembly action. The Anti-Racism Task Force’s vision is to help enhance synod practices and equip rostered ministers and lay leaders.
This task force worked hard to prepare for anti-racism trainings. As a staff liaison, I worked closely with the task force. In 2016, we had three Anti-racism training sessions led by Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training, many people who attended said they were pleased with the training and some wanted more.
This year we will have more trainings for those who did not get a chance to attend or those who want more. Our first training will be held at Redeemer-St. John’s, Brooklyn, on October 21, from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Our plan is to offer three more trainings between October and March next year with Crossroads.
Trainings on anti-racism are important and with joy and commitment I am always ready to organize them. This is because even today racism is a serious issue in the lives of many people all over the country and the world. There are troubling new manifestations of racism in our church in various forms, be it spontaneous, officially tolerated, or institutionalized.
I, together with the Anti-Racism Task Force, are ready to continue talking, educating where needed and supporting those who need support. We will do it with commitment and humility. Paul writes in Ephesians, "Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another. Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds you together."
For those who have called me with various questions on anti-racism efforts, please continue whenever you need guidance or help. We are all on this journey together.