All members of the seminary community—students, staff, faculty, and administrators—are invited to join together in reading and discussing Heather McGhee’s acclaimed book, “The Sum of Us,” during July and August. (To learn more about the book, please visit the Penguin Random House website.)
This community-wide discussion of McGhee’s book is a continuation of the honest, useful, and Spirit-led reflection on systemic racism that we began last year in reading Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist.” It will help us to continue to consider ways that individuals, groups, communities, congregations, and our seminary might recognize, combat, and dismantle racism.
Everyone who chooses to participate will be placed in a small group of eight to 10 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.
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.
Other than obtaining a copy of “The Sum of Us,” 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:
- Register on our 2021 Summer Book Read page. Please register as soon as you can and no later than Friday, June 18.
- Obtain a copy of Heather McGhee’s book, “The Sum of Us,” 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.
- Wait for details regarding the group you are assigned to and read Chapter One prior to the first meeting.
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 four of their small group’s six 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 will not be designated teachers or specially enlightened people. They are participants in the study who will help discussions remain open, honest, respectful, and charitable. If you are interested in being a co-facilitator, you can indicate that when you register.
We hope you will join us in this opportunity. The work is urgent, and we benefit from doing it in partnership with one another.