Christ the King to host talks on racism and the Church

“Finding Our Church in the Story of Race” will be the topic of the next two online group discussions that are part of the Anti-Racism Initiative at Christ the King Church in Nashville.

Msgr. Owen Campion, a former editor of the Tennessee Register, will lead the discussions on “St. Katharine Drexel and Bishop Byrne” on Sunday, Oct. 25, and “Bishop Durick and Desegregation” on Nov. 1. Both sessions will be held 10:30-11:30 a.m.

St. Katharine Drexel founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to serve American Indians and African Americans. Her order founded parishes, schools and missions across the country. Bishop Thomas Byrne invited Mother Katharine and the Josephite Fathers to open Holy Family Church and School in Nashville to serve the African American Community. She later opened Immaculate Mother Academy and St. Vincent de Paul Church and School in Nashville.

Bishop Joseph Durick was heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement as the Bishop of Nashville and launched several desegregation efforts in the diocese.

The sessions are part of the series of online discussions titled “Understanding and Confronting the Evils of Racism.”

Following Msgr. Campion’s talks will be a talk titled “Structural Racism in Action: North Nashville and the Legacy and Impact of I-40,” led by Linda T. Wynn, assistant director for state programs at the Tennessee Historical Commission. The session will be held 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5.

All the sessions are open to everyone, and people can register for the online sessions at the parish website, www.ctk.org.

The Anti-Racism Initiative sprang from online discussions the parish sponsored over the summer as protests against racism were held across the country after the death of George Floyd, an African American man, while in custody of the police in Minneapolis.

“That was an opportunity for us to unpack some of the events that were going on,” said Jon Stotts, director of adult formation for Christ the King. “It generated a tremendous amount of energy,” not only for more adult education sessions, but in ways parishioners could get more involved in the community to work toward racial justice, Stotts said.

“We identified five initiatives,” Stotts said. “One of those was to generate additional opportunities for education in the parish.”

That led to the online series “Understanding and Confronting the Evils of Racism.”

The first two sessions, “Eucharistic Understanding of Community and the Evils of Racism” and “The Call to Righteousness and Justice in the Christian Scriptures,” have both been held. Videos of the sessions are available at www.ctk.org under the tab for adult formation.

The plan is to have more adult formation sessions as part of the Anti-Racism Initiative in the future, Stotts said.

The other initiatives the parish is pursing include:

  • Starting a book club on the topic of racism.
  • Established a group to work with St. Vincent de Paul Church in Nashville, which was founded to serve the African American Catholic community in the city.
  • Established a working group to invite parishioners “to write small profiles of when they realized they were participating in a racist society,” Stotts said. The profiles will be posted on the parish website over the next couple of months, he said.
  • Established a committee to review agencies in the city already involved in racial justice work to see how Christ the King parish can get involved, “instead of reinventing the wheel,” Stotts said.

For more information about Christ the King’s Anti-Racism Initiative, visit ctk.org.