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Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Refuge for Women of Color: #CCDAWOC16

"Clothed with Sun" logo for CCDA WOC retreatThis year's Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) conference will once again offer a post-conference retreat for women of color (WOC). This is an critical event for the conference and its attendees to support.

I am a firm believer in the diverse and unified Body of Christ. But for those who do not belong to the dominant culture, yet must navigate and endure it daily, it is important to have time among one's own. It is imperative to set space aside for fellowship and rejuvenation for those that most intimately understand the unique journey of being a Christian woman of color.

There is the need for sanctified space for those of God's people who are oppressed, marginalized, or in the minority. All through the year women of color are under the white gaze and the male gaze simultaneously, immersed in dominant culture, navigating white and male power. This takes a great social, emotional, and spiritual toll, and it is important to have a reprieve--a time of rest-- in which to fellowship and worship with folks that share lived experiences.

Book cover for 'Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength'
The planners of the CCDA WOC retreat note that:
"To be a woman of color committed to racial reconciliation and social justice in the Christian church––whether evangelical or mainline––is to be a perpetual outsider. Many of us are culturally and theologically isolated in the spaces where we live, work, and minister. Our existence at the intersection of race and gender invites unique experiences, different from those of our White sisters and our brothers of all races. Sometimes those experiences include struggling to be heard and valued by the very communities and organizations that we serve."
In addition, Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes, author of 'Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength' shares:
"Many of us spend the vast majority of our days as racial-gender outliers. We are used to being one of few people of color in white-dominant circles, one of few women in male-dominant arenas. And we are almost always the first or only woman of color. We are the marginalized among the marginalized. We are used to walking on eggshells, filtering our words and behaviors so as not to make waves, having our opinions discounted even as people affirm how important it is for us to be present. Being a woman of color in evangelical social justice organizations is akin being a three-dimensional creature trying to live in a two-dimensional world."
If we, as the Body of Christ, are to come together in diverse and unified worship, it will require tremendous and disproportionate sacrifice on the part of women of color. The multicultural church comes at a great cost for the oppressed and the marginalized, much greater than for those coming from power and privilege.

Last year's WOC retreat participants
To be sure, white men and women will have to sacrifice their comfort and preference to be a part of the multicultural Body of Christ. But in contrast, women of color end up sacrificing their rest, their privacy, their autonomy, their self-care, their safety, their sanity, indeed sometimes their very humanity.

The ongoing oppression of women of color (even, and especially, in Christian spaces) is emotional,
spiritual, and physical violence acted upon them. The consequences are long lasting. The need for sanctuary is real.

Thus, the WOC post-conference retreat "is an opportunity for women of color to come together to:

  • Share the blessings and burdens of being women of color in Christian social justice ministry
  • Form strategies to sustain personal and professional wellness in the midst of cultural trauma and isolation
  • Renew our commitment to justice and reconciliation in the body of Christ
  • Enjoy fun and fellowship as sisters in Christ"
This is a vital part of of our work as the Body of Christ.

If you'd like to help make this post-conference happen, consider donating by clicking here. I'm glad I did (both this year, and now this year as well)! Indicate 'I'm donating towards a specific event.' and type "Women of Color Retreat." Just $79 can sponsor one person to attend! 

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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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