Civil Rights Then and Now was a series of educational events held at First Immanuel in the Spring of 2021 focused around the topic of racial justice. The series was meant to retell and revitalize First Immanuel’s rich history of racial integration beginning in the 1950’s and Civil Rights Era activism in Chicago and use this as a grounding resource of inspiration to learn more about what could be considered “modern day civil rights” efforts. This series served as the Ministry Project of Seminarian Kyle Duff (MDIV 2023, LSTC) and was cooperatively developed with a team of congregational members to invite First Immanuel to consider what it would be like to be a community concerned about "civil rights" today.
~He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8~
Session 1: Panel Discussion from long-time Congregational Members
First Immanuel 1950-1970: Racial Integration and Civil Rights Activism. We heard the stories of Carolyn Becker, George Manning II, Betty Stanfied and Tyrone Wallace as well as their reflections on the history of the church. This panel was moderated by media personality and friend of the congregation Arthur “Chat Daddy” Sims (https://therealchatdaddy.com/.) Watch this video to explore the wider church’s varied response to racial integration, inspiring welcome and communal flourishing at First Immanuel, crucial Chicago area history, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at FILC in 1966, and much more!
Session 2: Presentation on Dismantling Institutional Racism
“Dismantling Institutional Racism Brick by Brick” with Beverly Jones, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois. Mrs. Beverly Jones, MSW, ACSW, shared with First Immanuel the journey that Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois has undertaken in assessing the ways that racism is operating within their organizations interior culture and business practices and work towards widespread transformation to become a welcoming, inclusive, diverse, and equitable organization. Please watch this video to explore how a faith-based social service agency, whom First Immanuel has been a sponsor of since its foundations in 1873, took it upon themselves to eliminate the harms of racism in their own community and beyond!
Session 3: Presentations by two Congregational Antiracism Ministry Teams
Lutheran Congregational Antiracism Ministries with St. Luke’s Lutheran Church (Logan Square, Chicago) and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (Lakeview and Loop, Chicago). We were joined by members of the Antiracism Ministries of two local Lutheran churches to hear about their journeys of discernment, formation, and current actions. Please watch this video to gain insight into why a Christian fellowship might also take up the work of antiracism within the community and outwards towards the broader society, the joys and challenges of working for racial justice in a congregation, and how this interplays with other areas of ministry, including within the Metro Chicago Synod of the ELCA.
Also, visit their websites to find out more:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail