New discussion group begins – Fall 2019

As I write this, I’m feeling much gratitude for the increasing buzz and commitment within the congregation around understanding the many layers of oppression that exist in our culture – both “out there”, and within our own walls.  It’s not that the people at People’s haven’t historically been interested and active … but this has a new, more complex, internal energy to it.  It’s really exciting.

As a part of this new energy, as you have probably already heard, a new Dismantling Racism Steering Team, considered to be a sub-committee of the Board, will begin to meet and form a guiding assessment and direction to our internal transformation work.  We are really excited to announce that the DR Steering Team will be initially populated by Eddie DeGraw, Sonja Dean, Bob Swicker, two representatives from the Board (Susan Moerdyk and Cary Williams), Rev. Rachel, Nadine Godin-Nassaney, and Carolyn Heineman.  Future turnover on the team will be determined as discussions progress.

The DR Steering Team will work hand-in-hand with a new Dismantling Racism Implementation Team (mostly populated by the former ARAOMC committee members) – who will take the guidance from Steering, and shape it into activities that move us ever closer to our goals of a deeply equitable congregation.

Along the way, quite a number of you have expressed an interest in having a time to go more deeply into specific topics of racism/antiracism.  So beginning this Fall, the DR Implementation Team will be offering a monthly discussion time, open to everyone in the congregation.  Nadine Godin-Nassaney has generously offered to commit her time to facilitate these conversations.

The series topics will be guided over time by attendees, and will always hover around a deeper understanding of our individual and organizational transformation.  Such conversations are a critical component of building our relationships, skills, language, and ability to speak honestly with each other about very difficult things.  So just a heads-up, this will not be a venue to organize marches, or to talk about ‘them’ and what ‘they’ are doing.

We strongly encourage anyone who has not been through the 2.5 day Understanding and Analyzing Systemic Racism workshop to add this to their goals.  This workshop establishes a common language and analysis that then facilitates our conversations with each other.  It has become the standard entry point into equity work in the Kalamazoo community.

You will be hearing more from Nadine in the coming months about establishing a regular day and time for these discussions.  It would be helpful, if you have an interest in participating (regular attendance not required), to email Nadine with generic days/times of week that you would be able and willing to attend during the church program year (

Looking forward to going deeper with you,
Carolyn Heineman

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