Racial Justice & Healing

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.

2022 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

  • Begin our church meetings with Gospel Based Discipleship
  • Study scriptures that serve as a counternarrative to systemic racism
  • Explore the connections between Jesus’ Way of Love and dismantling racism.

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.

  • Establish at least one small dialogue group using the “Sacred Ground” curriculum to have transformational conversations about race.
  • Research the forces that led to St. John’s being a predominantly white community and what changes we would need to make to become a more multicultural and multiracial community.
  • Build specific programing for children & youth of all ages to learn about following Jesus through racial healing and justice work.

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.

  • Support ECMN’s renewed racial healing and justice work
  • Learn about and support efforts to dismantle systemic racism in public safety and policing, paying particular attention to the perspectives of Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and other communities of color
  • Seek to discern and transform how racism has impacted the internal structures of St. John’s (in liturgy, budget, building, hiring, programing, etc.).

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.

  • Seek individual and collective opportunities to cultivate a “Ministry of Presence” in Black, Indigenous, immigrant and other communities of color
  • Strengthen current connections with Black, Indigenous, immigrant and other communities of color, seeking to learn from and celebrate what God is doing among them.
  • Seek vendor/business relationships with contractors of color and find ways to invest financially in the Northside of Minneapolis.

Ministry leads: Lisa Wiens Heinsohn, Mark Lindberg, Rex McKee, Steve Schewe
Connected ministry teams: Justice & Service, Centennial Fund, Public Safety, Vestry

St. John’s History

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.

Justice & Service Committee

The Justice & Service Committee meets the 3rd Saturday of the month on Zoom from 9:45 am to 11:30 am. 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 Steve Schewe to connect with this group.