A Message from the Racial Audit Task Force Co-Moderators
posted on June 30, 2020
My name is Pat Stewart and being on the Racial Audit Task Force for MFSA is a wonderful opportunity. It allows me to work with others to help bring to light policies of this organization and the Methodist Church. Sometimes the policies seem logical and practical but when you examine them closely, emotional harm has been done. It is an honor to work with MFSA on issues of justice and fairness. I believe we can do better at matching our group purpose with our individual actions. I look forward to working with the task force, staff and facilitator to make things happen.
- Pat Stewart,
She/Her/Hers, MFSA Racial Audit Team Co-Moderator, MFSA Board of Directors, and Program Council Representative (Rio TX)
Late last year, I attended an MFSA Program Council meeting as a representative from the Iowa chapter. There I heard from Executive Director Bridget Cabrera and Board President Andy Oliver about an initiative of the Board to examine and address the influence of racism in the institution of MFSA. They explained that as a predominately white institution in America, MFSA and the organization's culture was indefinitely shaped by racism. To proactively transform the organization, MFSA was creating a task force to (1) identify the ways in which racism is ingrained in our institutional thought, policy and action and (2) form prescriptions for response. Soon after the Program Council meeting, I was invited to join the Organizational Racial Audit Team.
I was pleased to be asked and prepared for a three-day training with Crossroads, the organization that is guiding our process. As a white person, I was not only challenged to think more critically about the way that racism functions to benefit me but also to separate myself from Black people, Indigiounous people and People of Color (BIPOC). The trainers provided a powerful framework for seeing the structures of power and control that employ race, as well as gender identity, class, sexual orientation, ability, and other identities, to oppress people and communities at the “margins” for the benefit of the privileged “center.”
Before engaging in this audit process, I felt that I was aware of injustice and active in resisting it. Already I am discovering layers of implicit bias and ways that I have been complicit with and benefitted from white supremacy that I was previously unaware of. Even more, I’m starting to recognize the ease with which institutions like the church, police, education, and economics, are employed to maintain power imbalances for my benefit. I am beginning to see the difficulty of rejecting and deconstructing the systems of white supremacy. And, I am gaining clarity about the great importance of overthrowing these systems which work together to distort our lives and undermine our common well-being.
I look forward to the ways in which this process will shape me personally and will position MFSA to work for justice with greater integrity and in deeper solidarity with our partners. I encourage you to pray for the audit team and our staff, and I encourage you to continue to nurture in yourself the capacity to “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”
- Rev. Sean McRoberts
They/Them/Theirs, MFSA Racial Audit Team Co-Moderator and MFSA Program Council Representative (Iowa)