Change Groups and Local Meeting Efforts
“We Friends are of many skin colors, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, gender identities, sexual orientations, abilities, stages of life, and socially constructed racial identities. …We aspire to live as members of the blessed community, which is one of liberation, equity, and great diversity across all differences.”
-Baltimore Yearly Meeting revised Vision Statement, August 2016
The BYM Working Group on Racism (WGR) and the ad hoc Growing Diverse Leadership Committee (GDLC) are inviting local Meetings to support this vision of beloved community by identifying Friends to constitute a local Meeting “change group” that commits to helping the Meeting lower existing barriers to involvement of people of color in that Meeting.
Friends in each Meeting have crucial knowledge about their own Meeting and the larger local community. The WGR and GDLC are familiar with many of the resources and frameworks available for doing this work. Together we can be the change we want to see in our Yearly and Monthly Meetings.
Change Group Format
Each Meeting is different and so the format for the Change Group can be flexible. Some Meetings have created new groups, while in others, pre-existing committees have taken up the charge of a Change Group. Defining attributes of a Change Groups are:
- It meets regularly and consistently (gathering frequency, size, composition and style is up to Meetings).
- It engages in reflection: assessment and discernment about how to lower barriers to Friends and seekers of color, including self-reflection on behaviors and systems within the meeting that may contribute to racial bias and/or inequity.
- It engages in action: concrete changes and steps which lower barriers to Friends and seekers of color and support being in right relationship with all communities of color.
- It shares information on its progress with the WGR to help other Meetings learn and connect!
Interested in starting a Change Group at your local Meeting? Check out the resources below and contact the Working Group on Racism at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know that you’re interested!
Action and reflection are sometimes discussed as being opposite ends of the spectrum for creating change, but we believe that they are each a crucial part of the balance. Reflection allows us to take thoughtful action, and action pushes us to higher levels by creating new realities to reflect on. To be effective, it is important that Change Groups engage in both. Below find some resources for your local Meeting to engage in each.
- Materials from Interim Meeting workshop on implicit bias: Clearing the Way for Community-Powerpoint, Ways to Respond handout
- Reading List and Viewing List: Reading a chapter/book or watching a clip/movie together can be a great way to learn together and engage members of the meeting. These living documents of suggested reading and viewing materials around race was compiled by WGR and GDLC, including options for youth and adolescents. New listings added periodically.
- FMW Inclusion Assessment: This tool was translated for a Quaker context by Friends Meeting of Washington and can be used as a template for meetings to assess how inclusive they currently are.
- White Privilege: let’s talk—a four-part curriculum published by the United Church of Christ in 2016 and being used by congregations around the country as part of that denomination’s “Sacred Conversations on Race.”
- MCOD handouts—used at a two-session workshop at the 2016 White Privilege Conference, they describe how to use the “Continuum” printed in the 2015 BYM Yearbook to help an organization become more multiracial and antiracist.
- EECW presentation—a detailed description of an all-day “White on White Institute” at the 2016 White Privilege Conference. It uses the concept of “critical humility” to help white people learn ways to talk to other white people about racial issues in ways that are likely to evoke positive responses.
- Ideas for lowering barriers—a list cobbled together from a variety of sources. Friends may choose from that list whatever might work best or makes most sense. Items five and six on that list suggest conducting workshops. The WGR is willing to conduct or arrange for those workshops at local Meetings.
- AFSC Quaker Social Change Ministry group AFSC provides one-on-one support, program materials, training opportunities, and regular conference calls to meetings who want to take on justice work through accompaniment to groups run by people of color most impacted by an issue. Group meetings consist of one part reflection and one part action with other QSCMgroups.
- Report from GDLC focus groups:
- Curriculum materials on race that could be used in First Day School (see #4 on the “Ideas” document):
- New England Yearly Mtg’s Healing Racism Toolkit
- FGC Resources for Friends and Meeting working on Racism
- Friends of Fellowship of African Descent
- Amanda Kemp’s Say the Wrong Thing
- Other BYM resources on Race
- Racial Equity Tools
Curious who to contact about a change group in your own or another meeting? Check here.
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Want to attend an event with your change group and/or share one you are hosting or going to? Check here for events related to the Growing Diverse Leadership Initiative’s mission of promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion with regard to race, age (and the many intersectional identities that go with that) in the Quaker world and beyond. Add this calendar to your own Google calendar to be able to view or hide all events at your leisure. Email your event title, description, and organizer to post.