Invitation to read “My Grandmother’s Hands” Together During Black History Month

During Black History month (February), all are invited to engage with Resmaa Menakem’s “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies”. We have set up a proposed reading plan including scriptural and devotional suggestions and will be posting weekly reflections every Sunday from the synod staff below.

A Message from Bishop Ortiz

The synod staff and I are often perplexed by how systemic evil and the sin of racism pervades our society and daily living. After the summer of 2020 and the murder of Ahmad Arbury, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, we were compelled to lead by example and lean into the discomfort of listening and learning from Black voices, that we might lead most effectively and faithfully – I’m intentional about using the word “discomfort” to describe how it feels to listen and learn from Black voices because the truth we hear from these raw and prophetic voices often cause listeners to squirm with discomfort.

As an attempt to lean in, the staff and I began by reading, “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies” by Resmaa Menakem. We read each chapter along with a Scripture passage that helped us wrestle with the cause of racialized trauma and bask in the hope and healing we find in God, experience through Christ, and claim as the work of the Holy Spirit. This was a three-month weekly journey of discernment and discovery.

As a Latina woman, I was especially moved by the majority white staff’s dedication and determination to do the hard work toward an anti-racist worldview, posture, and embodiment. I learned much from them and am grateful for their vulnerability and willingness to engage. We often wrestled through awkward silences, anger, and piercing frustration. Holy and sacred moments. There was also much curiosity, love, genuine care, and faithful accompaniment every step of the way. Again, holy. It was transformational time because it was inundated by the presence of the Holy Spirit. We will not soon forget it and are now committed to leaning into discomfort for the sake of liberation from the sin of racism.

I pray you will join us in the sharing of transformational experiences that come from listening and learning from raw and prophetic voices; voices and Scripture that speak our collective truth and press us to lean into discomfort for the sake of healing and wholeness.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Bishop Leila M. Ortiz

Suggested Reading Schedule & Devotions

WeekDateSectionPagesBiblical/Prayer Connection
1Feb 1 – 7Forward
Part I: Ch 1-9
Ix-xx
pg 3-133
Isaiah 52Mark 5:21-42
Luke 24: 36-49
Great Spirit Prayer from Lakota Tribe
2Feb 8 – 14Part II:
Ch 10-17
pg 137-233Jeremiah 31:31-34
2 Corinthians 7
Luke 15:11–32
Psalm 90
3Feb 15 – 21Part III:
Ch 18 – 24
pg 237-251John 13:1-17
Acts 9:1-19
Prayer from Cole Arthur Riley
4Feb 22 – 28Afterward & 5 Oppspg 299-306Isaiah 11,
Ephesians 6:10-20

Staff Reflections – Will be available Every Sunday beginning January 31!

  • Reflection by Adam Fairchild
    I read My Grandmother’s Hands with our synod staff throughout this Fall after spending much of the summer learning about antiracism and how I can embrace a mindset and collection of practices designed to combat systemic racism. Through reading My Grandmother’s Hands, I gained a new perspective on systemic racism as a source of shared, embodied cultural trauma that challenged […]
  • Reflection by Katharyn Wheeler
    I read My Grandmother’s Hands following reading White Fragility as a congregational book discussion. While both books are blunt about the need for starting within oneself to start the work of racial healing, I felt that My Grandmother’s Hands gave practical and applicable practices to work through the emotional and physical changes that are needed in one’s own body. The […]
  • Reflection by Katie Evans
    I am really thankful to be in a work environment where a pursuit of knowledge and growth is valued in such a way. We had difficult and vulnerable conversations that you can only have with people you trust. As a white woman, it was a time where I could take a look at my own privilege, while also being in […]
  • Reflection by Pastor Erin Swenson-Reinhold
    Over three months, the synod staff committed with one another to wrestle through and with the book, My Grandmother’s Hands. As a white woman, I was challenged to face my own white privilege and the times I have chosen my own comfort over the discomfort of others. As I listened to my colleagues’ stories, my heart ached yet I was […]
  • Reflection by Pastor Lamar Bailey
    Author Resmaa Menakem in My Grandmother’s Hands boldly writes, “Race is a myth, but a myth with teeth and claws. Institutions, structures, beliefs, and narratives have been created around it. Until we recognize it for the collective delusion it is, it might as well be real.”  It’s not fashionable to speak of race as myth, and I suspect many readers […]

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