Dear PHPC Family and Friends,
As part of ongoing dialogue and an opportunity to go deeper in faith in this season, Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church’s Session invites you to join us in participating in a 21-Day Race and Equity Challenge.
Each day of the 21-Day Challenge offers a chance to study, read, listen, watch or notice by engaging with the suggested material below. At the end of the challenge, there will be opportunities to join a small group conversation and consider more deeply what you have learned with friends and neighbors.
The desire to engage in this 21-Day Challenge began a few months ago as an outgrowth of the church’s existing and ongoing commitment to racial justice and equity ministry, as well as the theological affirmation contained in our church’s vision statement, “Trusting all belong to God, Living Like We Belong to One Another.”
Over the summer months, we engaged in this 21-Day Race and Equity Challenge, commiting to listening, learning and modeling challenging and meaningful conversations, knowing that we might encounter differences of opinion. As Elders, we continue to participate in this work. We recognize that we enter study and conversation about race and systemic racism from different engagement and comfort levels. And yet, we seek opportunities to step forward in faith together.
We know that this 21-Day Challenge will by no means be the end of the ministry we need to do. Instead, it is a humble beginning on a long and necessary journey. May we continue to work together, as the prophet Micah states,“to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).
Grace and Peace,
21-Day Challenge Discussion Group
Join Preston Hollow Pastors and members who have participated in the 21-Day Challenge to share your experience and listen to others. There will be opportunity for full group and small group reflection. Contact: Katie Dollar ( ) to RSVP and receive the Zoom Link
Sunday, November 1
Wednesday November 18
6:30 p.m.- 8:00 p.m.
Scroll down to sign your name to the pledge and to comment on what you've learned through the challenge!
Why engage in a 21-Day Challenge?
The Presbyterian Mission Agency writes about it this way:
“As common citizens and as people of faith, we recognize the fact that race and racism are deeply embedded in the life and history of the U.S. Through colonization, slavery and a shameful history of legislative action and judicial pronouncements, our nation created and embraced a caste system that valued and devalued people based simply on skin color and ethnic identity. People of color were deliberately subjugated for material, political, economic, and social advantage. Racism today is the continuing and enduring legacy of this history.
There is a growing awareness among Presbyterians that racism is a crisis in our country and the church. Therefore, it must be addressed for the well-being of our community life, and for the integrity of the church’s witness to Jesus Christ. Following Jesus includes not only proclaiming the good news of God’s presence in the world, but actively joining in resisting all forces that seek to subjugate, separate, and kill. As a denomination, the PC(USA) is strongly committed to the struggle for racial equity.
Included in this commitment is the understanding that racism is not primarily about individual prejudice or an individual’s beliefs and attitudes. Rather, racism in the U.S. is a socially constructed system. Some people are advantaged, and others are disadvantaged, merely because of their skin color, ethnic identity or ancestral background. Social power and prejudice have combined to treat people differently, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Some people are privileged, while others are oppressed.
Consequently, there is unequal and inequitable access to resources such as money, education, information and decision-making power. This unequal and unfair access to resources and power is what is meant by structural racism. Structural racism can show up in multiple ways, including:
Housing discrimination that limits where people of color can live and steers them to rental markets rather than homeownership.
Laws and policies that deny people of color access to quality education, employment and adequate health care.
Food apartheid areas that are deliberately devoid of quality, affordable fresh food.
Mass incarceration and criminal justice systems that disproportionately target people of color with lengthier sentences, “stop-and-frisk” laws, the over-policing of communities of color, the school-to-prison pipeline, etc.
Environmental racism includes the dumping of hazardous waste, inadequate infrastructure, and lack of access to clean water that results in a range of serious health problems in communities of color.”
In the opening chapter of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus offers a thesis statement for this entire ministry: “The time is now! The Kingdom of God is at hand!” In Greek (the language of the New Testament), there are two words for time. The first is Chronos (χρόνος), meaning chronological time, or the minutes, seconds, weeks, years. The other word for time, and the one that Jesus uses in the Gospel of Mark, is Kairos (καιρός), meaning a moment of significance when history has reached a tipping point or a critical time for action. For the writers of scripture, a Kairos moment is an urgent invitation to live God’s future intent for our lives and the world as witnessed by Jesus within our present human circumstances.
Many pastors, theologians and biblical scholars suggest that we are now living in a kind of Kairos moment around race and racism. Things are happening in the world that calls us to develop a sense of urgency and particular attention to racial justice and equity issues. At Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, we, too, believe God is on the move, even in these difficult circumstances, providing us an opportunity to stand up and witness to what it looks like to reveal God’s future intent for the Kingdom of God in this present moment. The time is now.
Why 21 Days?
Anyone who has ever made a New Year’s resolution on the first day of January only to fail miserably by the middle of February knows that it is tough to break old habits and start new ones. Some have suggested that it takes at least 21 days for a new habit to form. While most scientific research suggests it is much longer, we all realize that habit-forming behaviors can be hard to change!
It is also the case that, without awareness, there is only habit, but with awareness, there is choice and responsibility. Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church’s 21-Day Challenge is an opportunity to begin new practices of awareness and responsibility. We know that we will not solve systemic racism in twenty-one days, nor will we complete our listening, learning and action as a faith community. Instead, PHPC’s 21-Day Challenge is one opportunity as members and friends of this congregation to make a tangible and visible dedication of time—while maintaining the long-term commitment to racial equity ministry the church has done and will continue to do.
Take the Challenge!
The 21-Day Challenge is a self guided learning opportunity to be started anytime during the month of October. Each day you will engage the selected resource and reflect in a journal. You can access the materials by clicking on the bolded link below.
Look for upcoming information about opportunities to gather together in early November to share our reflections.
STUDY The Week One lesson “The Biblical Imperative to Anti-Racism” from the P.C.(USA) Facing Racism Study Guide
LISTEN to Host John Biewen and collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika explore Whiteness over the course of 14 episodes (29 minutes per episode).http://www.sceneonradio.org/episode-32-how-race-was-made-seeing-white-part-2/
WATCH Racism is Real, A split-screen video depicting the differential in the white and black lived experience. (3 minutes). The Disturbing History of the Suburbs An Adam Ruins Everything episode that quickly and humorously educates how redlining came to be (6 minutes).
NOTICE What are the last five books you read? What is the racial mix of the authors?
STUDY Week 2 Lesson “Envisioning A New Way of Life Together” from the PCUSA Facing Racism Study-Guide.
READ White Fragility, 2011 article by Robin DiAngelo, which led to a 2018 book of the same title, exploring why it can be so hard for white people to talk about race, and how the resulting silence and defensiveness functions to hold racial dynamics and racial oppression in place.
LISTEN Waking Up White Explores White Privilege WBUR interviews Debbie Irving, author of the Book Waking up White (11 min) and How to Be an Anti-Racist with Ibram X. Kendi and Brene Brown (60minutes).
WATCH Netflix Film When They See Us based on events of the April 19, 1989, Central Park jogger case and explores the lives the five suspects who were prosecuted in charged related to sexual assault of a female victims, and of their families.
NOTICE Who is filling what kinds of jobs/social roles in your world? (e.g., Who’s the store manager and who’s stocking the shelves? Who’s waiting on tables and who’s busing the food? Who is cleaning your home and providing care to parents or children?) Can you correlate any of this to racial identity?
STUDY Week 3 lesson P.C. (USA) and Racial Reconciliation from the PCUSA Facing Racism Study Guide.
READ Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary Professor and PC (USA) Pastor Carolyn Helsel’s reflections in “Anxious Talking About Racism? 5 Ways White People Can Stay Engaged.”
- I Just See People- Rev. Dr. Rodger Nishioka
- It’s Not About You, It’s About Us- Rev. Tom Are
- It’s Not About Us, It’s About Me- Rev. Dr. Rodger Nishioka and Rev. Tom Are
WATCH Race--The Power of an Illusion: How the Racial Wealth Gap was Created” by California Newsreel illustrates how government policies and private practices helped create the segregated suburbs and the racial wealth gap (30min).
NOTICE As you move through the day, what’s the racial composition of the people around you? On your commute? At the coffee shop, you go to? At the gym? At your workplace? At the show, you go on the weekend? Who are your ten closest friends? What is the racial mix in this group?
STUDY Week 4 lesson Racism 101 from the PCUSA Facing Racism Study Guide.
READ “Boomtown blues? Dallas should worry about being dead last in this national ranking” from Dallas Morning News September 11, 2018.
LISTEN Harvard Divinity School lecture “Strange Fruit: The Cross and the Lynching Tree,” by systematic theologian James Cone, June 2, 2014 (90 minutes).
WATCH 13th, Netflix documentary by Ava DuVernay about the connection between US Slavery and the present-day mass incarceration system (1 hour 40 minutes).
NOTICE What percentage of the day are you able to be with people of your own racial identity?
STUDY Week 5 lesson Enduring Legacy of Racism in the US from P.C. (USA).