Imagine No Racism in Upper New York
In July of 2016, the Northeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church unanimously approved a resolution for every Annual Conference to confront the sin of racism in our own hearts, our churches, and our communities.
Upper New York Area Resident Bishop, Mark J. Webb, created a taskforce, known now as the Bishop’s Taskforce on Eliminating Racism, to start strategizing ways to confront this deeply embedded issue across our Conference.
The taskforce named the ministry, Imagine No Racism (INR), drawing inspiration from our denomination’s successful Imagine No Malaria campaign. Like Imagine No Malaria, Imagine No Racism unapologetically helps to identify the disease of racism and offers concrete ways to bring healing.
Trainings to Imagine No Racism, began taking place across the Conference in the spring of 2018. The training included six sessions that trained leaders could determine a schedule within which to offer each session. After the first training, individuals who felt called to facilitate future trainings were eligible to take a revised INR curriculum facilitator training offered in the fall of 2019.
The new and improved INR training is called Imagine No Racism 2.0. This revised curriculum came about from the evaluations and reflections of those originally experiencing INR. Conference INR leaders also consulted with the General Commission on Religion and Race. (GCORR) for help in restructuring the curriculum.
Like the first INR trainings, the INR 2.0 curriculum delves deep into concepts like implicit bias, white privilege, microaggressions, and initiating conversations about racism. INR 2.0 reinforces these concepts by providing a stronger connection between the curriculum and the scriptures it references.
The individuals who took the INR 2.0 facilitator training learned how to use new tools to provide a non-anxious presence, and the energy, to guide the group. The facilitators also learned new experiential tools that help define racism and explain white privilege, white fragility, and other concepts. The facilitator training offered a clear understanding of microaggressions such as tone policing and whitesplaining and offered ways to interrupt them.
There are currently 47 trained facilitators across the Conference. There are two Regional Coordinators who share resources and interface with individuals and groups:
Georgia Whitney (email@example.com) covers Adirondack, Albany, Oneonta, Binghamton, Mountain View and Cornerstone Districts.
Charles Syms (firstname.lastname@example.org) who covers Crossroads, Northern Flow, Mohawk, Genesee Valley, Finger Lakes and Niagara Frontier.
With the pandemic in mind, some INR 2.0 facilitators are choosing to offer training via Zoom (see next page for an example). People who have completed INR 2.0 can take a part-day training on Zoom to become facilitators for INR 2.0.
Anyone interested in participating in INR 2.0 should contact Blenda Smith at email@example.com. Anyone who has taken INR 2.0 and is interested in becoming a facilitator should also contact Blenda.