| Program: || Minnesota Churches Anti-Racism Initiative of the Greater Minneapolis and Saint Paul Area Councils of Churches, Minneapolis, MN |
| Contact(s): || Nadine or James Addington, Co-Directors: (612) 871-0229 |
| Purpose: || To engage the Minnesota religious community in efforts to combat individual and institutional racism |
The Minnesota Churches Anti-Racism Initiative (MCARI) was sparked by the 1992 Rodney King verdict and the subsequent disturbances in South Central Los Angeles. These events added urgency to efforts by the Minnesota Churches Anti-Racism Initiative of the Minnesota, Greater Minneapolis and Saint Paul Area Councils of Churches that were already underway. Each council was sponsoring separate efforts aimed at racial reconciliation and anti-racism training and organizing. MCARI was originally endorsed by the Board of the Minnesota Council of Churches in May 1993. In fall 1994, the Greater Minneapolis and Saint Paul Area Councils of Churches added their endorsement and sponsorship of the initiative.
The initiative uses a three-phase process to engage congregations in education and organizing. In the first phase, each participating congregation plans and designs its own activities in the initiative. The participants are introduced to the theory that racism is more than a personal bias and that understanding racism requires an examination of different peoples' relationships to systems of power. In the second phase, groups send a team of 4 to 6 people to take part in a leadership training event focused on understanding and dismantling racism. The goals of the forum are to build a common understanding of the ways that institutional racism affect organizations and to bolster commitment to improving these organizations. In the last phase, groups commit to an extended period (several months or more) of meeting regularly to refine and execute their plans for eliminating the institutional racism in their congregations. In addition to strengthening anti-racism efforts within organizations, MCARI builds the institutional capacity for participating in community collaborations that combat racism. Many individuals who participate in this process also choose to become affiliated with regional teams that meet on a regular basis and function as vehicles for on-going research, training and support.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
In the four years since its inception, MCARI has sponsored many anti-racism education and training events throughout Minnesota. Over 3,000 people have participated in introductory educational events. More than 300 people have gone through the three-day intensive anti-racism training event. Future efforts will focus on strengthening and expanding this emerging network of anti-racist congregations and institutions. So far, the regional teams have begun a broad-based dialogue focused on discussing the intersection between societal racism and regional education and housing patterns.