“Sacred Ground is a film-based, readings-based dialogue series on race. It is grounded in faith. Small groups are invited to walk through chapters of America’s history of race and racism, while weaving in threads of family story, economic class, and political and regional identity.
The 10-part series is built around a powerful online curriculum of documentary films and readings that focus on Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific American histories as they intersect with European American histories.
Sacred Ground is part of Becoming Beloved Community, the Episcopal Church’s long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation, and justice in our personal lives, our ministries, and our society. This series is open to all, and especially designed to help white people talk with other white people. Participants are invited to peel away the layers that have contributed to challenges and divides of the present day – all while grounded in our call to faith, hope and love.”
Sacred Ground is an opportunity to hear the story of our past with regard to race,” said The Most Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. “By listening to those stories and hearing them, and then telling our own stories together, and then looking possibly at the stories of our very faith, somehow, from the travail and the reality of all of those stories may emerge hope for a new day.”
Over the last five months, Carolina Villa and I had the opportunity to facilitate the Sacred Ground Study with 15 faithful participants. Together we learned about historical events that continue to impact racial relations today. For the most part, we were unaware and uneducated regarding treatment of “the disenfranchised” as so eloquently described in Howard Thurman’s book, “Jesus and the Disinherited.”. This study was a powerful tool in helping us better understand and live out our Baptismal Covenant. Carolyn Moore, Lee Stroud, Tom Cordle, Sarah Raper, Krista Anderson, Ada Atkinson, Jeff Burns, Ellen Wells, Alexa Blair, Beth Carter, Rene Gouverneur, Becky Underwood, Mary Johnson, Kathleen McLaren, and Anne Hood joined the 16,000 Episcopalians who have participated in the Sacred Ground Study.
Comments from some of our participants:
For me journeying through Sacred Ground was a life changing experience. I now understand it is not about my comfort but rather to recognize the extreme discomfort even death and the cultural genocide that non-whites have experienced for centuries and continue to experience in my white world of privilege. It taught me that I need to hear their stories regardless of how difficult it is for me to listen to these stories. This will lead to healing for both those who have suffered at the hands of white control and domination and also for me as a white person. My heart was changed. I see racism through a clearer and more focused lens compared to how I viewed it before this journey. I understand the role of fear, hypocrisy and hatred have played and continue to play in our society. I must try to be courageous, speak the truth, and love my neighbor as myself.
I have taken several studies on racial justice and the history of racial injustice in this country since the pandemic began, but without a doubt, Sacred Ground is the most thorough and in depth. As a retired social worker, I really thought I knew all I needed to know about racial injustice in the US, but this study was absolutely mind blowing. I also liked that it addressed the treatment of Native Americans, Asian Americans, Mexican Americans and other disenfranchised groups that often get left out of studies like this. I highly recommend Sacred Ground to anyone wanting to dive deeper into this important topic. We all need to work together to bring about the Beloved Community that God desires for us and this is a good place to start.
Thanks Andy and Carolina for facilitating it!
What I have learned from the Sacred Ground Study is that History has been cleaned up to hide the atrocities that have occurred. Even now Christians need to be reminded of the second commandment. We all need to put this commandment into practice daily.
Participating in the Sacred Ground study opened my eyes and my heart. I learned about racism, individual and systemic, and I said multiple times, “I had no idea!” This new-to-me information led to a new understanding of living with and correcting personal prejudices. It gave new meaning to the words of the Baptismal Covenant- “Will you seek to serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”
The study is well organized with interesting film and reading materials. I’m glad that our Church has invested time, energy, and money in making this study available to us. I am deeply grateful to the others in our group who shared this journey with me.
This series of studies has opened my heart and mind to the systemic racism present in my life. It has afforded me the opportunity to learn history, see my complicity and find healing and a way forward.
If you want to learn more about the program, ask any of the participants or go to www.episcopalchurch.ot/sacred-ground. Another series will be offered if there is interest. Let us hear from you.
Andy Atkinson 910-228-8727