Today I wanted to talk about a teaching model that my home church, Oakhurst Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Georgia is using for all youth and adult classes this month. The RED (Race, Ethnicity, and Diversity) group of this multicultural congregation created a series of storytelling panels around the topic of schooling (something that both age groups share). Each week of this month a different mixed race panel of congregation members will talk about what school was like when they were growing up in the South.
The first panel this last Sunday, was made up of seasoned church members who had experienced school during the segregation years. They told their own personal stories about what their schools were like and their encounters with those of other races. There was also a discussion around the impact of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision on black communities in particular. This Sunday will focus on adults who completed their schooling during the first or second waves of desegregation of public schools and the following Sunday will give the youth and young adults a chance to tell their stories about how race impacts schooling today.
Within our congregations are people who have a story to tell. This opportunity is one such model for learning from each other. I would love to hear how your congregation addresses the issues of race and difference in your educational ministry.
Associate Professor of Christian Education, Columbia Theological Seminary