Look well to the growing edge! All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge!
– Howard Thurman (1899 – 1981)
A Model Faith-Based Agency Engaging Justice Issues
The Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development in Madison, Wisconsin, seeks to “empower African American individuals, families, and communities to bring about hope, transformation, and justice.”
The Nehemiah Center is a distinct organization…
- That is faith-based- recognizing the inherent God-given worth and talent in each person
- That develops leaders- seeing and shaping the potential in those not often seen as leaders
- With a unique staff and approach to community development – using the expertise of culturally competent staff who have walked in the shoes of those we serve
- That serves all people but focuses on strengthening the black man and family – empowering them to become those who contribute to the health and betterment of our community
- That listens to and learns from the community – who has invited our presence and programs
Education for Reconciliation
Listen to podcasts by director Alexander Gee in his “Justified Anger” series.
- “Real Black History for White Allies: A First Step Towards Racial Unity”
- “At Age Seven I Thanked God I’m White”: An Honest Conversation With US Black History Course Participants
Also, stories, stories, and more stories from Nehemiah.
Associated with the Nehemiah Center is the Love Mercy, Do Justice project, based in Chicago. See more about the work of Dominique Gilliard who oversees LMDJ’s Racial Righteousness and Reconciliation program. His latest book is featured on our Prisons webpage.
There is a LOT going on in our nation during this summer of 2020, all of which is opening up new conversations within church groups. In the midst of discerning transition plans from COVID virus distancing to gathering again in church spaces, the United States has been hit with more tragic killings of black men and women at the hands of police officers. The subsequent rage and protesting are indications that new forums of communication need special attention these days. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said,
“Riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. In the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. ” (1967, King at Stanford)
Are churches convening spaces, both inwardly and outwardly, for the unheard? If you know of stories where churches are stepping forward to create “safe and brave spaces” for restorative conversations that address harms, facilitate healing, and give rise to hopes, please contact us and share your stories. Part of the goal of this website is to feature strong examples of peacemaking dialogue so that experimental models can be strengthened and replicated.
Ronald Kraybill’s pioneering book, Repairing the Breach (1980), featured a number of stories from the 1970s that included bold and creative responses to race related conflicts or harm prevention. Here are three that you can review:
St. Louis Riot Prevention Story involves “Youth and Police in St. Louis” where someone’s bold act a precedent to de-escalate tensions and later prevented rioting in that city. This same PDF also has Part 1 for “The Church and the Wilmington Ten” by Howard Zehr who descripbes how a North Carolina UCC church advocated for the unjust convictions of nine black males and one white female. For continued reading… Wilmington 10 Story Part 2
1972 Miami Beach Convention Story describes how a full year of proactive planning prepared the way for religious church leaders to be positioned as observers in a setting where both the Republican and Democratic conventions were scheduled in the same city. The group also provided liaison services between protesters and police to prevent needless tensions.
Read “No Justice, No Peace: A Restorative Perspective“ by Ted Lewis to consider how the weaving of justice and peace is essential to bring about real shalom in our society.
To read more about how this website is seeking partnership with others to provide recommendations and submissions for new content, read this post.
Read more about Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil’s work with church communities where she and others help people to navigate a Roadmap to Reconciliation.
Full quote (from above) by Howard Thurman, theologian
Look well to the growing edge! All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge! It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of the child — life’s most dramatic answer to death — this is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge!
Check out the Howard Thurman book series from Friends United Press. One of those books is “The Growing Edge.”
Check out an On Being podcast: Look Well to the Growing Edge (which includes a link to the work of Parker Palmer)