Springfield program to focus on faith communities, racial reconciliation

Exploring how different faiths can unite to bring people together will be the theme of February’s Global Education and Peace Network Global Education Speaker Series program.

“Sharing Our Racial Roots: Growing Together Across the Divide in Faith Communities” is a chance for dialogue on issues of race reconciliation at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20 in Room 105 of Shouvlin Center on the Wittenberg University Campus. The program is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

Coordinated by Pastor Carl Ruby and Winkie Mitchell, the program will focus on what can reconcile Springfield and the role faith communities can play in it. Also participating will be two groups of seven or eight local churches: Simunye and the Becoming Beloved Community.

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Both groups formed recently to help bridge these gaps. Simunye was launched by leaders of several local congregations working together for racial reconciliation among themselves, while Becoming Beloved Community was formed here last summer by several churches interested in Springfield’s racial history and ways to bridge the divisions and heal.

Ruby, the pastor of Central Christian Church, said there’s been a lot of progress made since Springfield’s last race riot a century ago, yet still a lot to be done.

“We’re going to ask what are the things we can work on together,” he said.

Attendees will be placed in one of three conversation groups to answer three questions: What needs to be reconciled? Why is racial reconciliation important? What will a racially reconciled Springfield look like?

The groups will then share their answers and talk about how the findings may be put into action. Ruby said one challenge is there are white people who think civil rights was the only necessary progress, but issues still need to be addressed.

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He’s also encouraged by the breadth of churches involved.

“It’s important we don’t recognize this as a black issue, but as a Springfield issue,” said Ruby. “With white and black participants, it makes this very hopeful.

The Speaker Series theme for 2019-2020 is “Sharing our Roots - Growing Springfield Together - My Story, Your Story, Our Story” and presents different topics each month on that theme.

For more information, go to springfieldohio.gov/global-education or contact Nancy Flinchbaugh at 937-324-7696.

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