In October 2020, after a lengthy period of communal discernment St. John’s determined that the Spirit is calling us to follow Jesus by centering the work of racial justice & healing at our church, using four primary focus areas and specific action steps within them.
Since George Floyd was murdered on Memorial Day 2020, the St. John’s community has been experiencing a spiritual awakening to the depth and breadth of systemic racism’s continued operation in our nation and in our city. We have come to understand that systemic racism transcends the intent of individual white people, and that it has created and continues to perpetuate great inequities and violence against Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and other communities of color in Minneapolis. We’re continuing to learn that significant segments of the Christian church (including the Episcopal Church) have justified and benefited from systemic racism throughout history up to the present day.
Therefore, we have come to the inescapable conviction that faithfully following Jesus in our time means to center the work of racial healing and justice in our church. Because we believe that love is the central expression of God’s being and will, we want to express this ministry as moving towards seeking racial healing and justice. We know that this journey may at times be painful or challenging, but we believe that God’s Spirit is leading us toward the Beloved Community for all people the authentic expression of God’s kingdom on earth.
We believe the Holy Spirit is calling us to express this focus in four primary areas: Pray, Learn, Act, Connect. In each primary focus area, we will create action steps expressly seen as experiments to adapt and learn from. A Racial Justice and Healing Steering Committee will oversee this process and review goals, new action steps and needed adjustments on a quarterly basis.
2021 Steering Team: Rie Gilsdorf, Lisa Wiens Heinsohn, Elizabeth Lienesch, Mark Lindberg (Chair), Brigitte Parenteau, Rex McKee, Steve Schewe, and Susan Swann
We are called to use spiritual tools to ground this work in following the Way of Jesus and listening to the Spirit
Ministry Leads: Lisa Wiens Heinsohn, Elizabeth Lienesch, Rex McKee, Susan Swann
Connected ministry teams: Sacred Ground, Liturgy, Music, Vestry
We are called to learn about and examine the racism in ourselves and our communities so that we may work to uproot it.
Ministry leads: Lisa Wiens Heinsohn, Rie Gilsdorf, Heather Miller
Connected ministry teams: Adult Education, Sacred Ground, Children & Youth
We are called to take specific action to dismantle the systems of racism.
Ministry leads: Rex McKee, Steve Schewe, Mark Lindberg, Brigitte Parenteau
Connected ministry teams: Vestry, Public Safety, Justice & Service, Centennial Fund
We are called to cultivate relationships across lines of difference.
Ministry leads: Lisa Wiens Heinsohn, Mark Lindberg, Rex McKee, Steve Schewe
Connected ministry teams: Justice & Service, Centennial Fund, Public Safety, Vestry
For decades, members of St. John’s have been deeply engaged in the community around us. Our members have a passion for direct personal service and relationships, broader systemic change, and the pursuit of justice for individuals and whole communities. Guided by the Baptismal Covenant, we aim “to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being.”
Our members demonstrated for Civil Rights and nuclear disarmament in the 1960s, created a chemical dependency recovery program in the 1970s and became a resource for AIDS ministry in the 1980s. In the 2000’s and 2010’s, members played important leadership and organizing roles related to public policy advocacy on a variety of issues including affordable housing, immigration, anti-racism and same-sex marriage.
Today, work on those issues continues, with a greater focus on building partnerships and personal relationships that help us bridge differences of race, class, culture, and opportunity. Our Centennial Fund for Social Justice is a great example of this. The members of the Justice and Service Committee, some of whose “day jobs” are in the field, bring extraordinary knowledge and passion to this ministry.
The Justice & Service Committee meets monthly. These meetings serve as valuable touch points for the leaders of the various ministries, time to reflect on new initiatives and strengthen existing ones, as well as manage the fiduciary responsibilities of St. John’s social justice funds. Contact the office to be connected with this group.