The purpose of this handbook is to guide groups of racially diverse people in the discussion of race and racial reconciliation within a Biblical context. It’s important that everyone comes to the table; this is more than just a black/white issue. We are all impacted by race. It is on our birth certificates and on our death certificates and most government forms in between- literally from cradle to grave.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matt. 22:37–39)
Of course, the first part of that statement is much more pleasant to reflect on. How could we not love God who, while we were still sinners, died a death of atonement for us so that we could be reconciled to Him by His grace?
But loving our neighbor? That’s a different story. Yet we know that God cares deeply about people and how we treat each other - whether we lift one another up or whether we harm one another through hate and oppression. Unfortunately, the sin of racism in our country has taken on a life of its own and is devouring us all from the inside out. In the end, it even has the power to destroy who we are in the imago Dei. His imprint becomes defiled and distorted, and we are no longer able to love God or others the way God intends for us.
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?"
This curriculum breathes life into the notion of racial reconciliation, making it clear that we are compelled by the gospel to carry out this work.
We are grateful that Liz Cornell gave her time, passion, and faith in creating this study guide for our Christian community. Personally, the lessons made me think deeply about the scars of racism, trauma and complicity and emerge inspired to set out on a path toward healing and reconciliation.
I found a place where my passion for racial justice can be nurtured alongside my Christian faith. The material is Scripture-based but rightly takes on the theological, historical and social norms that have been stacked against people of color, like me.
Through the readings, questions, and hands-on activities, our racially, ethnically diverse group was able to recognize and explore these institutional wrongs in a safe and loving space. We grew deeper as a community of Christ followers—with one another and in God’s word.
This guide can help believers make a courageous move toward an anti-racist world that has been remade in Scripture. Anjetta McQueen Thackeray
I knew that my participation in The Love Required of Us would be powerful, but I had no idea that it would be such a transformative experience. Learning the history of racism gave me a foundation for understanding its present-day effects. Listening to the experiences of others in a safe space gave me the opportunity to empathize and understand how racism impacts individual peoples’ lives. Reflecting on my own experiences with racism, as a white man, helped me to become aware of my own unconscious bias and unintended impact. The course has helped me become a better husband and friend, and it has helped me have difficult conversations with my family in a more effective way.
The group method was perfect for the sensitive nature of this sacred work. My group developed a close emotional bond throughout the course. We laughed together, cried together, supported each other, and validated each other. It’s rare to find a safe environment for vulnerable discussions about racism, and that’s exactly what this was. All voices were welcomed and heard; all perspectives were valued. Above all, the grounding in spirituality guided us to participate with open ears and open hearts. We were all united in the same purpose. I cannot praise this course enough for its power to begin the healing of our collective racial wound. Mike Martella
So grateful to have spent the last year in this curriculum! The most important thing to me has been the coupling of historical education and scriptural foundation. As you, Liz, have said frequently, it is not a political issue, it is a biblical one. On a personal level, I have gained language and context to explain systemic problems and the domino effect they have (i.e. socioeconomic neighborhood splits lead to educational splits, lead to job opportunity, mass incarceration, etc). I have also been able to explain to my other half (who has previously lived in limited context/exposure to those unlike him) and have richer conversations with him; he has gained better understanding of how the system is set up and the work we need to do...and has grown his own desire to buy books/become more educated in these topics. It is a very small example of multiplication but a relevant one I think. I have also seen scripture through a new lens (i.e. passage in Luke that we started with at the beginning of our cohort). Rachel Leming
I love God’s timing. I was going through a very tough time with feeling like my skin tone was holding me back in ways that I was inept in explaining. I felt isolated, and alone, with no one understanding what I was trying to express. My pastor let me know we were going to have a small group called Racial Understanding and Reconciliation and encouraged me to join. Oh my Lord, it felt like scales had fallen from my eyes. I’ve always been passionate about fighting against race issues but this class gave me a better understanding of the history I was fighting against. This class has been a blessing, albeit a hard one to swallow. Ironically, the class I took finished right after Ahmaud Arbery and right before George Floyd both were murdered. It didn’t make the pain lessen but it gave me a framework on which to reset my fight against racial injustice in light of both horrifying events. Adrianna Ford
I believe our church (and the Church at large) will be made stronger and more impactful through the transformative work that God is doing through those who are committed to racial reconciliation. The Racial Reconciliation curriculum written by Liz Cornell helped lay a great foundation for the journey ahead of us here at Light and Life. Through a biblical and historical framework, this curriculum allowed us to navigate through meaningful and difficult conversations. The level of commitment to the process and to each other throughout this journey elevated the experience and it allowed the Holy Spirit to move in us and transform us. Susie Gamez
I really appreciated the space to discuss racial reconciliation in the context of faith in a safe and reflective environment. The group helped form me to be a more compassionate and grounded reconciler and bridge builder. It helped me not to demonize either side and encouraged me of the power of listening to the stories of others in an extremely polarized world. Michelle Ramage
I was blessed enough to take part in one of Liz's classes on racial reconciliation. With her excellent curriculum and skilled leadership she took a diverse group of us at my church and she guided us through history and language and resources to help us see with fresh eyes the injustices around us. The "homework" each week was manageable but thought provoking and provided great fodder for excellent discussions. Thank you, Liz, for leading us lovingly but honestly through this! Wendy Seyfert
Liz Cornell’s “Racial Reconciliation” class is more than a classroom with lesson plans, it is a safe space for transparency, self-awareness, and healing. Aside from taking a deeper look at history, vocabulary, and systems, we learn to inspect our own identity, what we’ve been told about it, what we know about it, and align it to the image of God. On the first day of class, I walked in with a strong sense of who I was and learned that a large part of my identity was rooted in a detrimental false description of who I am. Each time I discovered or re-learned something new, I was never left rattled or triggered. instead, I was embraced, affirmed, and empowered. My life is forever changed. I know who I am, where I come from, my worth, and the value of my voice. Karen Ortiz