Blessed and Burdened 

March 19, 2019

Saturday, March 9, I participated in a day-long Plymouth Council and Board leadership team meeting.  Part of the day was designated to do the work of our boards. The meeting also included a 2 ½ hour workshop entitled, “Blessed and Burdened – A Power Analysis,” that explored the Footprint of Oppression, specifically by Plymouth Church as a historic Seattle institution.

My take-aways from that workshop were powerful. Unfortunately, I have yet to attend one of the Undoing Institutional Racism (UIR) workshops offered by The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. Mary Flowers and others stated that day that our session shared a mere “chapter” from the UIR workshop. 

Exploring the Footprint of Oppression was held with about 50 attendees situated in a circle. Mary Flowers and Dr. Gary Kinte Perry, from Village of Hope, guided the discussion. Mary started with a hand-drawn illustration of pine trees and Duwamish Long houses on land that would eventually become Seattle. Many members in the group have studied Plymouth history and knew that some of the same families who came to the Pacific Northwest to claim land through government issue, were also the same families who helped found Plymouth Church. They described the desecration of the land, cutting of trees and burning of the long houses where the Duwamish people lived, forcing them out of the area.

Many other topics were covered after this introduction, but this piece of information had the most profound effect on me and how I see my own European ancestry and Plymouth Church. After hearing and learning about the many ways white settlers laid claim to this land and the way they treated native people, I am more committed than ever to make the required changes to combat oppression and racism in our community, through accountability.

In the afternoon, we met with our respective Plymouth Boards and ministry teams and mindfully tried to apply some of the messages that were our take-aways from the morning session. I serve on the Faith Formation Board and feel we were able to brainstorm in a different way and share meaningful discussions, based on the work we had done. 

I feel honored and humbled to be a part of this congregation that is doing this deep and important work of accountability.  – Beth Paul-Russell

Topics: Church Life, Events



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