Contact: Jeehye Kim Pak, Communications Director
General Commission on Religion and Race, the United Methodist Church
“Expanding the Table,” a new video podcast series from the General Commission on Religion and Race, will debut on Tues., June 1, 2021. Series guests will focus on how individual Christians and church-based entities can and should engage the work of racial justice-making and anti-racism.
Guests for the first podcast—titled “Racism, Police Reform and Faith”—are the Rev. Kirk Lyons of Brooklyn, N.Y., and the Rev. Jeremy Wicks of Traverse City, Michigan. Both United Methodist pastors are leading community-wide conversations and demonstrations that call attention to implicit and explicit racial bias experienced by Black and Brown people at the hands of police officers. Both are bringing together church, community, and law-enforcement members to seek solutions.
The Commission’s interim General Secretary, M. Garlinda Burton, says the new podcast series will offer deeper understanding of how racism harms both the church and society at large and how anti-racism and racial justice functions as an expression of Christian discipleship.
“‘Expanding the Table’ explains how people of faith can foster and practice anti-racism from the lens of followers of Christ. Religious and civic leaders will share practices and experiences that will inform and inspire Christians to live out their faith and bring the Word of God to bear on championing human and civil rights for all people,” Burton added.
As a white man, Wicks, a former police chaplain and reserve officer, says that he came to embrace movements like Black Lives Matter, after he “actually started listening to Black people in my community and witnessing how they were treated.” Wicks said the murder of George Floyd led him and members of his mostly white, United Methodist congregation to “open our eyes to the racism that was happening and work together for racial justice through police reform.”
Since 2008, Lyons has led men’s nighttime prayer walk through some of the most crime-ridden communities in New York, praying with and for gang members and drug dealers. As they established connections with the mostly Black and Brown men from the streets, Lyons say the churchmen began to hear stories, not just about how known criminals are treated, but how Black and Brown residents in general encountered and experienced the police.
“Too many police officers bring an indifference and fear of People of Color to the job, to the point that they don’t see us as human,” Lyons said. He and his group are now in conversations with law enforcement on the value of community policing, and having residents and police officers build relationships and trust with one another.
Lyons and Wicks will talk about their work as an outgrowth of their understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and offer ideas for how Christian communities may learn more and get involved in local police reform and anti-racism efforts.
The first episode “Racism, Police Reform and Faith” will be available on Tues., June 1, 2021. Please visit www.r2hub.org/library/podcast for information on where to listen. This page will be updated.
The General Commission on Religion and Race is one of 12 church-wide agencies of the United Methodist Church. The Commission offers teaching resources, training and networking among Christians seeking to bring their faith to bear to dismantle racism, tribalism, and xenophobia in all forms. More information available at http://www.gcorr.org.