To the Luther Seminary Community:
On behalf of the seminary’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, I’m inviting you to participate in an all-seminary book read during July and August.
All members of the seminary community—students, staff, faculty, and administrators—are invited to join together in reading and discussing Ibram X. Kendi’s acclaimed book “How to Be an Antiracist” during July and August.
A community-wide discussion of Kendi’s book will, the committee believes, prompt honest, useful, and Spirit-led reflection on systemic racism and the ways that individuals, groups, communities, societies, congregations, and our seminary might recognize, combat, and dismantle it. Reading a book together will be a small step, but it’s nevertheless a step in the right direction for all of us, we who pray regularly “your kingdom come.”
Everyone who chooses to participate will be placed in a small group of six to eight people. The plan is that each group will include a mixture of students, staff, faculty, and administrators.
Groups will meet on Zoom once each week over a seven-week period, beginning the week of July 5 and ending the week of August 16. Each of those meetings will last 75 minutes. The first meeting will be introductory. Each of the next six meetings will be devoted to discussion of three chapters from “How to Be an Antiracist.”
No one is expected to be an expert in the topic. No one is expected to have it all together. No one has to do homework, other than reading the chapters that will be discussed. The goal is to create space for honest conversation about a very serious and urgent subject.
Assigned co-facilitators will be responsible for guiding each group, keeping the conversation open and honest while working through discussion questions that will be provided to the groups.
When you register, you will be asked to indicate your scheduling preferences. Groups will meet weekly on different days and times, which will make it easier for as many people as possible to participate in the book read. Choose the option(s) that can work for your schedule for the full length of the book study:
· Sunday evenings, 7:15-8:30 p.m. Central
· Monday afternoons, 3:45-5:00 p.m. Central
· Monday evenings, 8:15-9:30 p.m. Central
· Tuesday lunches, 12-1:15 p.m. Central
· Tuesday evenings, 7:15-8:30 p.m. Central
· Wednesday mornings, 7-8:15 a.m. Central
Other than obtaining a copy of “How to Be an Antiracist,” there is no charge for participating in this opportunity, although we expect that everyone will emerge from the experience richer and challenged.
If you have already read the book, please participate anyway. You will learn and contribute in additional ways from continuing the conversations with others, especially as we consider the topic in light of the seminary’s mission.
Are you interested? Of course you are. Here’s what you need to do to participate:
· Sign up on Luther Seminary’s book read registration form. Please register as soon as you can and no later than Friday, June 26.
· Obtain a copy of Ibram X. Kendi’s book “How to Be an Antiracist” as soon as you can. Booksellers frequently sell out of their supply of printed copies, so don’t delay.
· Begin praying for the experience, that it will be transformative for you, for the people you study and work with, and for the seminary community collectively.
· On your calendar, reserve 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Central Tuesday, August 25, for attending—if you are able—a Zoom-based all-community event to mark the end of the book read. This event will allow the seminary community to gather learnings from our shared journey through the book and our small-group interactions. It will also allow us to talk aloud about possible next steps on the long road of faithful responses—both individual and institutional responses—to the challenge of repenting of systemic racism.
Finally, here are three additional things you need to know:
· It is expected that everyone who participates will treat the opportunity as a personal commitment to the work of antiracism awareness and to the other members of the small group to which they will be assigned. To make this experience as effective as possible, therefore, everyone who participates needs to commit to attending at least five of their small group’s seven scheduled meetings, including for sure the first meeting during the week of July 5. Even if you cannot be present for a meeting via Zoom (with video), it is acceptable if you join by phone (audio only). That means you can be traveling or otherwise away from a computer and still participate.
· If you are a student who wants to participate but needs a stipend to help you purchase your copy of the book, you can indicate that when you register.
· The co-facilitators for the small groups are not designated teachers or specially enlightened people. They are participants in the study who will also help discussions remain open, honest, respectful, and charitable. If you are interested in being a co-facilitator, you can indicate that when you register.
I hope you will join me and many others in this opportunity. The work is urgent, and we benefit from doing it in partnership with one another. May God be our encourager and corrector at every step.
Professor of New Testament