Dianne Glave: Ministry & Church

Posts tagged ‘racism’

You’re Fired?! Wendy Bell From Theological Perspectives

Over the last week or so, social media has been ablaze over Wendy Bell’s comments on Facebook. WTAE-TV fired Ms. Bell because the television station concluded she described African Americans in stereotypical ways on Facebook. Some deemed those comments racist. Others agreed with her description of African Americans.

Should WTAE have fired Wendy Bell? The answer is no and yes.

As the conversation continues to rage, I found myself nodding my head in agreement with a blog entitled “Firing Someone Doesn’t Change Much” by Rev. Erik Hoeke’s, pastor of Avery United Methodist Church in Washington, PA. He concluded that Ms. Bell should not have been fired because WTAE-TV’s actions eliminated an opportunity to educate Ms. Bell and others about racism. Again, I agree.

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I also believe in grace, a doctrine of the United Methodist Church. Grace is love and forgiveness. Christ forgives us of our sins and in turn we are called to love and forgive those around us. Didn’t Ms. Bell deserve grace, an opportunity to learn from her mistake, having made racist comments some of which stereotyped African Americans as promiscuous?

Conversely, there may have been grounds for Wendy Bell to be fired. Matthew 18:15-19 tells us to confront a church member who has done wrong. When confronted many times and unwilling to change, scripture tells us that a person must leave for the greater good.

Let’s creatively and loosely apply the scripture, a biblical template, to Wendy Bell and WTAE-TV. I’m guessing the television station applied some fundamental human resources protocol in firing Ms. Bell. They may have asked: Was Ms. Bell in a sustained pattern of bias while employed by WTAE-TV? Did she refuse to change her behavior and words when confronted? Was Ms. Bell offered diversity training, which she rejected? We may never know the answers to these questions. Yet if she was fired based on due process typical of human resources protocol, and did not change then she deserved to be let go.

Rev. Hoeke tells us we must continue conversations through anti-racism, inclusion, and implicit bias education:

Wendy Bell, like me, benefits from white privilege. Wendy Bell, like me, isn’t always conscious of the implicit biases and racist attitudes she has. Wendy Bell, like me, continually needs anti-racism or sensitivity training. My hope is that Bell takes advantage of this situation to grow and mature as an individual. (http://erikhoeke.blogspot.com/2016/03/firing-someone-doesnt-change-much.html)

If there is a willingness to be transformed, there is hope. As part of our own transformation, consider attending meetings or workshops in your area focusing on anti-racism, implicit bias, and inclusion. Here in Western Pennsylvania the Anti-Racism Team of the United Methodist Church is offering an Implicit Bias Workshop on May, 11, 2016. Join us.

 

 

A Silver Lining: Race, Racism, & Ethnicity

In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:28, The Message)

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Hey, I am the first to say I don’t view church life through rose-colored glasses. I’m a pretty practical feet-planted-on-solid-ground person. So it makes sense I am guarded but hopeful about all of the modern issues concerning race, racism, & ethnicity in the US.

This month’s conversation, perhaps this year’s conversation concerning race relations took place on the street outside the church. I walked out of the church to be greeted by the street’s handy-man. He did odd jobs at the parsonage over the last several months. He texted me every holiday.

Well, today, he was landscaping a neighbor’s yard. He pulled himself up from his knees and crossed the street to talk to me.

He said, “I hear you are leaving. Is it because you wanted to get away from us white folks.”

I responded, “No, I’m actually headed to serve at another church so I have some new white folks.”

I went on to explain some of the internal financial issues at the current church that led to my new appointment.

ImageAs I walked away, I said to myself, “My how SOME things have changed.” Just 10, maybe even 5 years ago, an African American woman appointed to a United Methodist Church would have to assume that the congregation did not want her and there would be attempts to drive her from the church, instead of people wanting her to stay on. Even today, that is still the case.

ImageEveryone once in a while people surprise you. And I can say I was happily surprised by my first appointment as a United Methodist pastor in the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church. Good people . . . good church.

We still have much to do, but thankfully there are silver linings.

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