On the evening of May 1, approximately twenty-eight BHCC members and friends including both adults and youth attended a joint Adult Education and Mission event. We gathered for dinner together and for a chance to learn how the 13:1 racial wealth gap in the United States developed. It was a time for both fellowship and learning, although our topic was not an easy one. As we participated in the Bread for the World’s Racial Wealth Gap Learning Simulation (https://www.bread.org/library/racial-wealth-gap-learning-simulation) led by the Reverend Liddy Barlow of Southwest Pennsylvania Christian Associates, we were variously surprised, frustrated, and outraged. As we learned about government policies from the nineteenth century to the present and their different impacts on black and white Americans, we began to understand in a more concrete way why accumulating generational wealth has been impossible for so many hardworking black people in our country. We could see more clearly that, even as people of goodwill and love for our neighbors, not to mention people with our own struggles and difficulties, we have benefitted, while others have been systematically left out.
This insight was worthwhile in itself, but it also led us, in typically BHCC fashion, to ask, “How can we make things different?” We know that loving our neighbors requires us to seek justice, but how is it that we, both as individual Christians and as a congregation, can do this in this case? We know that we cannot change a system built over more than a century and a half quickly, but we also know that there are both individual and group actions we can take to bring about small changes, and that many small changes will compound into a system which is more fundamentally just. What this kind of change takes is sustained awareness and commitment, so let us begin with these goals: greater awareness and small actions. At the end of our time together we did brainstorm some ideas in groups focused on the topics of housing, education, incarceration, voting rights, and jobs and employment. There were a surprising number of interesting ideas raised. Amy Grella has started a Bulletin Board in Fellowship Hall where you can see some of these ideas about action. We hope all BHCC members will read these ideas, propose other actions, and take action as you feel called. Most of all let’s commit to learning about the racial wealth gap in America because this too is meaningful. Don’t forget to check out this bulletin board during coffee hour and add your actions. Also, please read and pay attention to the Mission’s “Mind the Gap, Mend the Gap” feature which will appear in BHCC monthly newsletters. Finally, let’s pray this summer and beyond that this meaningful evening will not be a one and done event, but that we at BHCC will continue to find ways to be a loving force for justice in the face of such a crushingly disparate system.