From: Haley Ballast, on behalf of the Anti-Racism Task Force
The Anti-Racism Task Force of the Seattle Presbytery began meeting nearly a year ago, after being established and appointed by the Executive Board. Our charter instructs us to facilitate transformative conversations around issues of race and equity, and to serve as a reflective body within the presbytery to help us identify and address our complicity in systemic racism.
With summer approaching, churches across the country are preparing for Vacation Bible Camps with the children in their communities. One of the new curriculum options on the market, ROAR! by Group Publishing, has been the focus of a great deal of media attention and controversy. This Africa-themed curriculum contains content which instructs children to pretend to be slaves while being insulted and called “lazy” by a leader, names Africa as a country, and mimics a “click language.” As a task force, we have reviewed these materials and find them to be inconsistent with our biblical values, as well as culturally and racially insensitive and harmful.
We understand that some churches within the Seattle Presbytery have already purchased and planned to use this curriculum. We ask that you reflect critically on the materials and prayerfully consider alternatives. Should you decide to move forward with this curriculum, we recommend that you review the changes provided by Group Publishing, and also consider any additional adaptations and edits to the material that may be appropriate for your particular context. If you have questions or need support in this process, please feel free to reach out to the task force.
We believe that this lamentable situation provides an opportunity for critical reflection for all our congregations as we plan to welcome thousands of children through our doors across the presbytery this summer. The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for all people, across race, culture, ethnicity, country of origin, and native language. Let us endeavor to share this good news with our communities, and to do so with integrity, compassion, and love.
Haley Ballast, on behalf of the Anti-Racism Task Force
Task Force Members
Staff: Eliana Maxim, Tali Hairston