The Justice and Faith Collective began with a dream birthed in 2017 with the creation of the antiracism curriculum for Vacation Bible School at Edmonds United Methodist Church in Edmonds, WA. Inspired by increasing awareness of structural racism and learning at the March 2017 Faith Forward Conference, Jennifer McLaughlin envisioned a community experience that would engage children, youth, and adults in conversations about racism.
Author Brian McLaren spoke at the conference about how to prepare children for life in dangerous times. Among his guidance were two goals that drove this vision. “1. Help children identify as participants in a never-ending spiritual revolution/evolution of love. 2. Equip children as lifelong Christian activists for these dangerous times.”
After a test run in 2017 and securing grant funding, work began to create a 2018 curriculum and camp focused on racism. An interdisciplinary team of volunteers agreed to learn more and work with an equity consultant to write a VBS curriculum. The result was our 2018 camp, “The Power of Inclusion.” The curriculum was targeted at our mostly white, middle-class community, inviting them into awareness about race and responsibility. We defined racism, discovered beauty in diversity, and explored privilege and resources (playing games that teach us that some start further ahead in life and others start further behind).
The team grew and created a new curriculum for a camp in 2019 and another in 2020, CommUNITY Allies VBS. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 curriculum was created digitally. This crisis became an opportunity for us to market our content digitally. CommUNITY Allies VBS was sold to more than 675 communities in 2020.
With the death of George Floyd in the midst of our CommUNITY Allies VBS curriculum creation and distribution we realized the need was greater than we’d seen before. Churches all over the world need this work. Children, youth, and adults need to be engaging in this conversation together. The Justice and Faith Collective responds to this need by providing curriculum with tracks that are age appropriate for children, youth, and adults. Our content includes current antiracism theory and practice, as well as liberation theology that invites communities towards transformative change. If we want to see the world change, it must begin with us. So, join us! The most effective antiracist work would include members who are both white and people of color. For people of color learning with us, we hope this will be a safe place. And we hope to help you experience liberation. We welcome your input, feedback, and creativity.