Wellshire Presbyterian Church Diversity/Anti-Racism Initiatives and Accomplishments

Through June 30, 2022

Worship

In April, community was cited as the theme in the stories of Lazarus and Martha & Mary. Wellshire seeks more engagement with our diverse Community! In June, a sermon on humility called for us to be humble in connecting with other religions, all of whom have similar groundings despite different practices or tenets.

People of color have been featured in many art themes at worship.

The May 15 worship service demonstrated how diversity can be represented in myriad ways:

  •  A sermon on inclusivity. “We must work for Justice.”
  •  Music including an “American Negro Spiritual” (the term preferred by Dr. Everett McCorvey)
  • Artwork of James He Qi with a Jesus of color
  • Children’s time reading about an umbrella that fits everyone

Pentecost Sunday also showed multiple ways we celebrate Diversity:

  • We celebrated the work of Teagan Palmer, who has served as a choir leader for us. Tegan and her wife (who were married at Wellshire) are leaving Wellshire to pursue other opportunities
  •  A flyer was distributed for “Juneteenth” (June 19)
  • The sermon referenced both the Juneteenth holiday and the Presbyterian Apology to African Americans that was under discussion at General Assembly.

eNewsletter

Our eNews continued to offer diversity-related definitions, including “Racial Wealth Gap” and “Reparations.” For a number of weeks, enews offered a link to the African American Apology that detailed multiple actions and inactions the denomination has done to support racism over time. “Pride Month” was also defined, including PCUSA’s increased inclusivity (with respect to clergy & marriage) in just the past few decades.

Children

After Lent, returned to Matthew 25 as a theme for Sunday School. The Vacation Bible School videos with songs had all races singing and moving. The videos of the Bible story had actors of all races, often Jesus was black.

Youth

Eighteen high school students and four adults spent about a week at the border of the US and Mexico near Pharr, Texas. Served alongside local organizations and learned about the real-life implications of immigration policies. It was an eye opening experience for our students and adults.

Repeated the Racial Wealth Gap simulation that had been offered in March to confirmands in April.

Wellshire participated in the Denver Presbytery’s May Month of Engagement on Matthew 25. Matthew 25’s “eradicate systemic poverty, dismantle structural racism, build congregational vitality” was lived out in multiple ways across the congregation. Overall, the Presbytery logged almost 2000 hours of activities across ten churches.

Local Mission served dinner to 30 youth and staff at Urban Peak in May (UP provides provide temporary overnight shelter to young people experiencing homelessness). Delivered a carload of hygiene items to The Gathering Place (TGP offers services to women and children to combat poverty and address the impacts of marginalization and oppression that are often contributing factors to poverty or homelessness).

Local Mission also provided 5 scholarships to students at Colorado High School Charter’s 2 campuses: Osage and Globeville, Elyria and Swansea (GES) (93% minority enrollment). CHSC is transforming the alternative education experience by creating tailored curricula, a supportive school environment, and community partnerships to ensure students’ personal and academic growth.
Provided to a teacher appreciation lunch at Schmitt Elementary school (minority enrollment at 95%); purchased 25 $100 gift cards to be given to teachers at the start of the school year, and supported a Schmitt family whose home burned with temporary housing.

The Diversity Task Force directed $2500 in local mission contributions to five local causes: the Afghan refugee settlement process, Innocence Project in support of unjustly incarcerated individuals, Casa de Paz in support of re-uniting families broken by detention, Building Bridges in support of teenage leadership development and racial understanding, and InterFaith Alliance in support of legislative actions.

A subgroup of the Diversity Task Force is studying actions which can reduce the racial wealth gap, including facilitating home ownership. We are in contact with the Dearfield Fund, which specifically supports home ownership in the local Black community.

At request of Rev. Bell, an initiative to support Afghan refugees’ move to apartments in Denver was begun. The congregation responded generously to the call for support during the month of April. Carloads of household items along with $650 in gift cards were donated in support of Afghan families who have settled in Denver.