Conversations about race can be uncomfortable for some of us. How do we begin to grapple with issues of racial reconciliation?
More than 60 people from around the Ohio Conference committed to discussing racial reconciliation this winter while participating in a new initiative called the Ohio Conference Winter Read.
Led by Pastors Vikki Pruitte-Sorrells of Lee Heights Community Church in Cleveland and Kevin Himes of Salem Mennonite Church in Kidron, the Winter Read participants read Latasha Morrison’s book titled Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation. Then they had the chance to discuss the book and the issues raised during five evening Zoom meetings during January and February. The Zoom meetings included input from leaders Vikki Pruitte-Sorrells and Kevin Himes, as well as discussion in small-group “breakout rooms” and times of full-group discussion.
Following the five weeks of discussion, Ohio Conference surveyed participants, asking them to reflect on the experience and to give suggestions for future Winter Read studies. Respondents overwhelming gave the discussions a positive review, and many indicated that they would be interested in further book studies.
One participant said, “I appreciated the variety of people that were participating across the conference and the experience leaders brought to the study. I also was very appreciative that we were not in the same breakout groups every time. That was so helpful to share in small groups even though I felt very vulnerable but others were in a similar position.”
Note: Vikki Pruitte-Sorrells and Kevin Himes previously led their congregations in a joint study of Be the Bridge last year. To learn more about how this collaboration first came about, you can view “Speak the Truth in Love,” a webinar from Mennonite Mission Network about racial reconciliation that features Vikki and Kevin’s story: https://www.mennonitemission.net/events/4416/Speak-the-truth-in-love.