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More First Steps for Equality and Justice

Margot Starbuck recently released a great article at Relevant Magazine called A Suburban Faith that complements our recent discussions about practical action for change. She discusses ways that folks can become a little less isolated, even while living in a privileged suburban area. The goal is simply to commune with others and to treat our neighbours with respect and dignity. Read the full article here, and begin to transform your attitude by taking the following advice:

  • Know the name of the person who touches your goods. 
    • “Know something about the one who serves you as a bag boy, attendant, or waitress. What’s her name? Does he live alone? What happens when her bus doesn’t show up? Honor this one by looking him in the eye, calling him by name and taking a genuine interest in his life.” 
  • Exercise in a place where you’ll encounter someone new
    • “For your next workout, choose a physical space where you might naturally encounter someone with fewer resources. Jog past your city’s social service providers or do your weird race-walk through a low-income neighborhood. And because it’s not a poverty tour, be sure to speak to some of the real live people who also think your race-walk looks ridiculous.” 
  • Get to really know those who you encounter in the course of your daily work. 
    • “Get to know the faces and names and stories of those who too often go unnoticed. Who is it that cleans the bathrooms you use most frequently? When you don’t make your own lunch, who is it that serves you the one you buy? What’s the story of the guy who waits outside the coffee shop asking for spare change? “ 
  • Build relationships with the elderly who have been forgotten. 

    • “Whether you have the natural entrée of an older neighbor rehabilitating after a fall, or whether you contact the recreation coordinator to be scheduled as a bingo caller, the poor, the weak and the forgotten are waiting for company in nursing homes in every community.” 
  • Engage in ministry with a partner from a sister congregation. 
    • “Does your congregation have a relationship with a sister church that’s socially or economically different from yours? Support the ministry they’re already doing. If it’s tutoring students, show up Fridays after work. If it’s Vacation Bible School, learn how you can serve. If it’s cleaning up the neighborhood, don your work gloves on a Saturday morning and make a new friend.” 
  • Open your home to children in the state foster care system. 

    • “Have a heart for young kids? Before you ever raise your own, consider opening your home to children in your state’s foster care system. When local kids are suddenly displaced from the home they share with their natural parents, they often need a place to stay for a night or two. This moment of loving stability can bless a child more than you know.” 
  • Invest in people living in a place where personhood can be easily overlooked. 
    • “Tuesday night your church is providing supper for people being sheltered through Interfaith Hospitality Network. Though it’s bad news for the poor when people of privilege dip into their lives only long enough to throw a casserole out their Prius window, your church’s support of local mercy ministry might be the vehicle by which you are able to develop a real friendship.”
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Katelin Hansen is the editor of By Their Strange Fruit (BTSF), an online forum to facilitate justice and understanding across racial divides. BTSF explores how Christianity's often-bungled relationship with race and racism affects modern ministry and justice. Recognizing that racial brokenness hinders our witness to the world, BTSF strives to increase the visibly of healthy and holy racial discussion by approaching justice and reconciliation from a Christ-minded perspective Follow more conversations at http://bytheirstrangefruit.com