Faith Journey

My Faith Journey by Kathy Long

kathylongThe Holy Spirit started very early in me by sending me new black neighbors when I was about 10. Our neighborhood in a small industrial city in southeast Texas was redlined. Our mother insisted we play and take the little neighbor boys trick-or-treating while we lived next door.

When I was a junior in high school, we moved again to just outside Austin, TX where I went to school with Latinos and more African Descent students. One of my best friends was a Latina. I also started taking Spanish lessons and I seemed to have an “ear” for the language.

I met my husband at a tiny Lutheran church in Corpus Christi, TX and we were on the call committee to find a Latino pastor for the new Hispanic Lutheran Church. We met Hector & Mirta Vasquez, two of the most amazing Christians I’ve ever met.

Jim & I moved back to Houston in 1997 and taught English and Citizenship classes for a year and a half to help Latinos move faster through the “system” in response to the 1988 Amnesty Act. It was a fabulous growing experience for the two of us.

We then moved to El Paso, TX where we adopted our son, Daniel. Daniel is Mexican-American boy with cerebral palsy. I also joined Cristo Rey Iglesia Luterana and was one of the guitar accompanists for the misas. I took the Crossroads A-R training in November of 1996.

In 2001, we moved to Redmond, WA and I guess the Holy Spirit decided I had had enough time off, because I met Sharon Lone Browder and she told me that the NW Washington Synod was starting up the A-R Committee again. I’ve been on that committee since then, became a LHRA/ELCA A-R Facilitator. I’ve also taken the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites 18 hour training in 2003. I’ve facilitated the Troubling the Water’s curriculum with University Lutheran Church in Seattle.

I currently serve as the office manager of the Lutheran Public Policy Office of WA, an advocacy ministry supported by people of faith to advocate for the poor and environment in the halls of power.

In these past 15 years of being a white American woman who is aware of the white power & privilege I and other white American receive, I see the need for the work of the EALA more ardently than ever before.  Systemic racism abounds and separates us from being the world our Lord Creator envisioned

My Faith Journey by Bruce Brenn

faith clip image002My journey seeking justice began in my teen years although I was unaware of what impact I would have. I worked as a respiratory therapist and later as a registered nurse. I became a caregiver. Regardless of who individual was, I was an advocate.  In the early 1990s I began volunteering in a local “soup kitchen” and became friends with a cook who was African American. When we went out socially, he would ask how safe the place was. I didn’t understand what he was getting at.

Then at the Northwest Lower Michigan Synod assembly in 1996, I went to a breakout session on the subject of white privilege and I became committed to work on anti-racism. But I had no clue where it was going to take me.

A year later I was involved in the closure of a Lutheran church.  The synod would take on the responsibility of the sale of the church and for paying off the debt.  Congregation members were hurting and asked the synod to use whatever was left over to go back into the community. We thought about a new mission church on the other side of town but God had a different idea.

The synod leadership offered the money to the community via a ministerial alliance that was comprised of mostly black churches. The alliance told the synod they wanted to utilize the money for anti- racism work with Lutherans.  Intense meetings with the synod, local churches and community advocates took place for about a year. All of which I had the privilege to be part of. During the MLK celebration in Kalamazoo in 2000 the announcement of the formation of ERAC/CE (Eliminating Racism and Claiming / Celebrating Equality) was made.

I also deepened my understanding of racism by attending Crossroads trainings and working with the NWLM synod anti-racism team. After the formation of ERAC/CE, I became a board member for the next 7 years.

I am currently involved with organizing, doing presentations and workshops with the synod team.  In ERAC/CE we were able to identify five targeted systems/institutions in the community that we wanted get the message to. We were successful with those targets and ERAC/CE continues to work with many of the institutions yet today. I have been involved with video productions involving ERAC/CE and the synod’s anti-racism team.

At work I helped get our management team to anti racism workshops along with many of the staff. We have an active diversity team. I participated in the formation of the European American Lutheran Association (EALA) and am a board member. My anti-racism work continues through my membership with the Synod’s anti-racism team, my activity in my workplace, ecumenical and evangelical work with my church and the EALA.
Newsletter Version (365)

My journey seeking justice began in my teen years when I worked as a respiratory therapist and later as a registered nurse. I became a caregiver. Regardless of who individual was, I was an advocate.  In the early 1990s I began volunteering in a local “soup kitchen” and became friends with a cook who was African American. When we went out socially, he would ask how safe the place was. I didn’t understand what he was getting at.  Then at the Northwest Lower Michigan Synod Assembly in 1996, I went to a breakout session on the subject of white privilege and I became committed to work on anti-racism, not knowing where it was going to take me.

A year later I was involved in the closure of a Lutheran church. Congregation members asked the synod to use the money left over from the sale of the church and paying off the debt to go back into the community. The synod leadership offered the money to the community via a ministerial alliance that was comprised of mostly black churches. The alliance wanted to utilize the money for anti-racism work with Lutherans.  Intense meetings with the synod, local churches, and community advocates took place, and I was privileged to be a part of them..

During the MLK celebration in Kalamazoo in 2000 the announcement of the formation of ERAC/CE (Elimin-ating Racism and Claiming / Celebrating Equality) was made. I was a board member for the next 7 years. In ERAC/CE we were able to identify five targeted systems and institutions in the community that we wanted get the message to. We were successful and ERAC/CE continues to work with many of the institutions yet today. I have been involved with video productions involving ERAC/CE and the synod’s anti-racism team.

At work I helped get our management team to anti racism workshops along with many of the staff. We have an active diversity team. I participated in the formation of the European American Lutheran Association (EALA) and am a board member. My anti-racism work continues through my membership with the Synod’s anti-racism team, my activity in my workplace, ecumenical and evangelical work with my church and the EALA.


My Faith Journey
By Reverend Sandy Jones

sandy jonesAlthough I was born in Denver, Colorado I grew up in Southern California where the racial make-up in my high school was about 80% Hispanic, 10% African American, and 10% White.  So my formation happened in a very diverse environment.

Over the years I have visited various Latin American countries many times.  Even though I did not know the language I experienced the warmest welcome and the most wonderful people I have ever met.  In 1975, I spent one month living and traveling around Mexico where I was taken in and cared for by friends and strangers alike.

In 2000 I moved to North Carolina.  There I noticed that the African American and the Anglos had come to an unspoken apparent truce.  However, the overt racism, exhibited by both the African American community and the Anglos was directed at the increasing Latino population.  This being my first time to live in the South, it was my first experience with such overt racism.  I began to feel that God was calling me to serve this under served people.

In 2005 I served my internship in a small town outside of the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina; where no one spoke English. I experienced first- hand what it feels like to be on the outside; to live in a place where I was not part of the dominant society; where there was a distrust for anyone and everything North American; and where a person is considered unintelligent simply because they cannot communicate in the dominant language.  It was there that I knew for certain that God was calling me to serve the Spanish speaking community in the US.

This community, the Latino community which is relegated to living in the margins, has built the most opening and welcoming church community I have ever experienced.  They are a wonderful gift to the church if the church can find a way to welcome them without demanding that they “become just like us.” My father used to use this tape that was indestructible; it just could not be torn.  The reason is that the tape has fibers running through it in both directions; running both up and down and from side to side rather than all in one direction.

God has called me to serve this under served community and it is in this place where I experience God’s love.