Weekday Email to Members and Friends – 2020-06-24

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Wednesday June 24 2020
A daily e-mailer from
Matt Matthews
To Members and Friends of 
First Presbyterian Church
Champaign, Illinois
Dear Friends,
I’m kicking off a new segment of my daily emailer: Take on Race.
When I have  (or you submit) material that fits that category, I’ll park it there. The first material for that spot was written by our very own Ian Evensen. He’s a 15-year-old junior at Uni High School this fall. He loves basketball, spending time with family and friends, and listening to music. He also enjoys drawing, cooking, and writing. He likes to learn about the human brain and body. During this quarantine, “I’ve been playing basketball, studying for the SAT and ACT, watching TV shows, and journaling.” 
Give Ian’s essay a close read. It follows.
* * *
Take on Race:
How I Learned About Race and Racism
By Ian Evensen
            I always knew that not everyone looked like me. From a young age, I recognized that people had different skin colors, facial features, body types- the list goes on. Before elementary school, however, I never paid attention to any of that. We were all humans, despite the innumerable physical characteristics that gave us our distinctive appearances. From what I remember, all of us preschoolers were treated the same way, even though we all looked different. It wasn’t until elementary school that I learned about race. 
            In elementary school, I began to hear both classmates and teachers refer to others as “Black”, “White”, “Brown”, “Asian”, “Hispanic”, and several other names. It didn’t take me long to realize that because my dad was American and my mom was Korean, I was “half Asian and half White”. The categorization of people by race had produced a label for my identity. I heard and experienced racial stereotypes, and was exposed to all kinds of talk that regarded people of different races as different types of human beings. Because of how prevalent racial categorization had become in my life, without even trying, my mind started to divide people based on this single physical characteristic. My classmates were no longer just a bunch of kids; each of them now belonged to one racial group or another. 
            Also, during my elementary school years, I learned a lot about African-American history. We were taught about slavery and segregation, but we were also taught that those things had ended, giving the implication that everyone had equal rights now. I was under the impression that thanks to the abolishment of slavery and the civil rights movement, the cruelty that African-Americans had experienced was a thing of the past. Racial discrimination seemed like something that had only existed a long time ago; a problem that was no longer present in America. It wasn’t until later in my life that I realized that this was not the case. 
            Seeing the video of George Floyd being murdered fully opened my eyes to the fact that racism is still real, and that it is a serious problem. Since elementary school, I’d become more cognizant of the systemic racism that affects Black Americans every single day. I’d heard about how high the unemployment rate is for them, and about the wage gap between Black and White workers. I’d read about how it’s harder for Black Americans to access education or healthcare, and how much more susceptible they are to criminal injustice. I’d seen countless headlines about Black men being mistreated by White police officers. But witnessing George Floyd’s life being ruthlessly taken from him because of the color of his skin made me realize that I am a part of a racial group that has never experienced the injustice that afflicts the lives of Black Americans. I will never know what it’s like to live as a Black American; to be oppressed because of the singular physical characteristic that divides us all: race. People are categorized by the pigmentation of their skin- a trait which no one has control over- and it determines the way they are treated. We all need to treat everyone as equal individuals in order to make a change.
* * *
“I’m not racist.” Have you heard people say that? Check out this TedTalk:

Tuesday’s The Heart of Mission had an incorrect date for the PW Bible study. It is not July 25; it is this Thursday June 25 at 9:30 am.  

Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.

Our Wednesday Night Potluck on ZOOM features a Bible Study by Dave Bauer. He’ll get us thinking, laughing, and, probably, living more deeply.

Email zoom@firstpres.church for the link.
* * *
HELP! Your Session is in need of two elders to replace sitting elders who had to resign. We need two saints willing to step in to lead our (1) Nurture Committee and (2) Mission Committee. 
Please volunteer. Please pray. Please nominate somebody.
The nominating committee is:
Eric Stickels, chair
Greg Cozad (12/31/20)
Judy Hendrickson (12/31/20)
Leland Andrews (12/31/21)
Linda Peterson (12/31/21)
Bill Stout (12/31/22)
John Seiler (12/31/22)
* * *
This reminder from Pat Phillips: “At the end of the day, I’d rather be excluded for who I include, than be included for who I exclude.”
* * *
From Nancy MacGregor: I’m passing along a favorite quote of Dave Fillpot’s from the Indian poet Rabinthranath Tagore: “Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.” Good explanation of Hebrews 11:1.
Good Word: 
·       “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
Let us pray 
Holy God, 
guide my steps,
tune my vision,
open my heart,
in  the  name
of Christ.
Matt Matthews
Cell: 864.386.9138