“We are very excited to share this guide that is full of resources for clergy members and congregations that want to get started with or move forward with racial justice and reconciliation work,” said Dr. Rebecca Glazier, a professor in the School of Public Affairs and director of the Little Rock Congregations Study, “The heart of the guide is the three different models for engaging in faith-based racial justice.”
The three models to help congregations begin racial justice work include:
· The Interracial Friendship Model focuses on congregations building relationships with other congregations across racial and religious divides.
· The Scripture Model highlights the importance of looking at religious texts to highlight racial justice as essential to scripture and calls individuals to the work of racial justice.
· The Racial Audit Model emphasizes the fact that racism can be perpetuated by systems, including religious institutions, and is designed to look at or create a commitment to racial justice through congregations.
The resource guide also includes research related to faith-based racial justice and reconciliation work, suggestions for congregations engaging in racial justice work, feedback from clergy members on using the three models in their congregations, questions congregations should consider before beginning, and responses congregations can use if they receive pushback on their racial justice and reconciliation work.
“We also provide a resource guide that lists organizations, films, articles, books, and reports that congregations can use if they want to start getting more information,” Glazier said. “We created a commitment page where congregations can think about what potential racial justice commitments they can make moving forward. There is also a form they can fill out if they want to be involved in future research.”
The Little Rock Congregations Study research team, including a practicum team from the Clinton School of Public Service, compiled the resource guide utilizing feedback from focus groups and clergy groups throughout Little Rock.
In a 2020 study of nearly 2,300 people from 35 diverse congregations across Little Rock, researchers found that the No. 1 issue participants wanted their congregation to do something about was race relations. Further research with clergy members found that 88 percent of them said that Little Rock has a problem with racial division, while 64 percent believe race relations will get better and that clergy are in a position to help make that happen.