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Syllabus for Racial Reconciliation Clergy Day (Acknowledgment Pre-work)

Syllabus for Racial Reconciliation Clergy Day (Acknowledgment Pre-work)

In advance of the October 10, 2017 Clergy Day, participants were asked to complete the pre-work in the following syllabus. All congregants are invited to do these activities, as well. Please note that the members of the Racial Reconciliation Team (RRT) listed below were accurate at the time of the event but may have changed since then. Please visit the RRT page at for a current listing.

Racial Reconciliation Clergy Day

October 10, 2017
9:30 AM to 3:00 PM

Trinity Episcopal Church
85 West Street, Rutland, Vermont 05701
(802) 775-4368

Racial Reconciliation Facilitators*

The Rev. Robert Spainhour | Tel: (843) 343-6871
Maurice L. Harris | Tel: (513) 704-8395 |

*Please contact the facilitators with any event-related questions.

Racial Reconciliation Committee Members

The Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Ely
The Rev. Robert Spainhour
Maurice L. Harris
The Rev. Nicholas Porter
The Rev. Karen Montagno
The Rev. Beth Ann Maier
The Rev. Peggy Mathauer
Raquel Aronheim
Jeffrey Hiam

Event Description & Objective

Acknowledgement is the first stage of a long-term, four-phase process of Acknowledgement, Engagement, Reconciliation, Restoration. This process, which will be discussed in greater detail at Clergy Day, is based on best practices in social justice, prayerfully considered, and is guided by our mandates from General Convention. The objective of Clergy Day is for participants to recognize and acknowledge their own biases, privilege, and unconscious participation in racism.

Realizing that some attendees may be further along the Acknowledgement spectrum than others, special care has been taken in the selected readings and planned discussions in order to challenge and engage all participants.

Pre-work (To be completed in advance of Clergy Day)

As resolved in the 78th General Convention, we are seeking in part “to find more effective and productive ways to respond to racial injustice as we love our neighbors as ourselves, respect the dignity of every human being, and transform unjust structures of society” (from Resolution 2015-A182). We believe this pre-work around Acknowledgement is a good place to start.

The pre-work is divided into two categories: Required and Optional. Your completion of the required pre-work is essential, as it will serve as the grounding for the small group discussions at Clergy Day. We ask that you complete the pre-work in the order listed (for the greatest intellectual impact). However, you are certainly welcome to complete the tasks in order you like.


Task #1: Read or listen to “Tears We Cannot Stop” by Michael Eric Dyson.

Dyson, an African American pastor, offers this book in the structure of a liturgy, and repeatedly addresses the reader as “Beloved.” Initially, it may be off-putting, but by the end you’ll know that he really does hold the reader in a loving embrace. Dyson says, “The problem is you do not want to know anything different from what you think you know.” (5 hrs 32 mins on Audible)

  • Tears is available in hardcopy, digital, and audio formats:
    • Amazon Kindle or Hardcopy (LINK)
    • Audible (LINK)

Task #2: Take the RACE Implicit Bias Test at

Task #3: View “Finding Myself in the Story of Race” by Debby Irving. (LINK)

This brief YouTube video is a very good condensing of Irving’s book, Waking Up White. While some clergy may feel that Irving does not necessarily represent them, she certainly represents many people in our congregations. Irving’s transformation offers hope for those entering this work. (15 minutes)

Task #4: Read Jim Wallis WBUR Interview Transcript (DOWNLOAD PDF)

This is a good introduction to Wallis’ book, America’s Original Sin, and to our Acknowledgement theme. Wallis offers the perspective of a progressive, white Evangelical pastor whose faith has been deepened by acknowledging and grappling with racism and its effects. (10 pages, 15 minutes)

Task #5: Read the Executive Summary of Driving While Black & Brown (DOWNLOAD PDF)
For additional discussion at Clergy Day. Please peruse this document as your curiosity leads you.

Task #6: Read “For Our White Friends Desiring to Be Allies” (DOWNLOAD PDF)
This article by Courtney Ariel is from Jim Wallis’ recommended reading list and provides food for thought and discussion around how we might move beyond Acknowledgement. (5 minutes) 


  • Read or listen to America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis
  • Read or listen to Waking Up White by Debby Irving


Related Links

Vermont Clergy Treat Stubborn Wounds, Make New Efforts Toward Racial Healing

Racial Healing: How to Make 2018 a Year of Acknowledgment

Defining ‘Acknowledgment’

Link to Racial Reconciliation Team Website

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