Racial Justice Group Leaders: Dick Swaisgood, Manda Schoen

Staff Liaison: Pastor Lara Forbes

Meetings: Third Tuesdays, 7:00 pm

At the August 2020 Congregation Council meeting, the Council approved formation of a Racial Justice Group and authorized it to research and make recommendations to the Council on how Saint Andrew’s can address racial justice issues and specifically Black lives and the Black Lives Matter movement.

If you have questions or wish to join the group, please contact either Dick Swaisgood or Manda Schoen.

Racial Justice Group Video

Go to top

On this webpage….

Current Opportunities Racial Justice Statement Purpose Statement Did You Know.... Resources

Current Opportunities

February 28, 2021: We shared why this work is important, why the group was created, and what our goals are.
May 16, 2021:  We discussed “Who is Our Neighbor?” and specific actions we can take.
November 7, 2021: We explored Native American Justice and looked at the history of the Fish Wars.

Go to the recording of the Forums
Go to top

Racial Justice Statement (Approved by Congregation Council – April 2021)

courtesy tandem-x-visuals; unsplash.com

At Saint Andrew’s we take our mission statement seriously – “to Love and Serve All People”. Saint Andrew’s stands in support of the Black community and Black lives. We strive to support all our neighbors, including our Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, and other neighbors of color.
Recognizing the systemic racism and racial inequality in our community and nation, we acknowledge that we cannot remain silent, nor can we sit idly by. Remaining silent only contributes to injustice.

We commit to the ongoing work to find ways to better Love and Serve ALL People. As a start, Saint Andrew’s has created a Racial Justice group to guide our congregation in ways to address the injustice facing our neighbors in the BIPOC (Black, Brown, Indigenous and other People of Color) community.

Initial Goals for the Racial Justice group:

  • Look for ways we may be enabling racism so we can change and grow together as a community in Christ.
  • Provide education and resources to the congregation on racism in our community and ideas of how to counter that injustice.
  • Provide ideas of how our church can be more welcoming to members of the BIPOC community.
  • Make recommendations to the congregation on actions we can take to better support the Black community and the BIPOC community at large.
Go to top

Purpose Statement (November 2020)

courtesy unsplash.com

George Floyd’s killing in May 2020 and the demonstrations that followed were a tipping point that make it clear that there are class divisions in our society that clearly benefit white people and relegate Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) to second class status. Our continued silence in the face of clear evidence of that division puts into question if we are living up to our mission statement “Growing together in Christ to love and serve all people.” The Racial Justice Group was created to investigate the ways we are falling short of and facilitate action toward racial equity as we strive to make our mission and values principles we truly live by. We believe doing this important work will have far-reaching benefits by helping us better understand and navigate our differences.


  • Form a standing Racial Justice Committee
  • Recommend specific actions for the congregation to take
  • Provide educational opportunities to increase our understanding of our increasingly diverse neighbors
  • Work with existing committees and staff to incorporate racial equity work into all aspects of ministry

Guiding Questions:

  • Who are we welcoming and inviting in to our congregational life?
    • How might we be unintentionally excluding people or groups?
    • What unconscious messages do we send about who belongs and who doesn’t?
    • Who is doing the welcoming and inviting? How can we create or reinforce the attitude that this is everyone’s responsibility?
    • Do we assume visitors are familiar with our worship style? How can we make it more navigable for those who are not?
  • Do we understand the Black Lives Matter movement and how it ties into our mission and values?
    • What assumptions do we currently hold about Black Lives Matter? Can they be verified or disproven?
    • Are we more curious or defensive about the concept of white privilege? How can we move toward curiosity rather than defensiveness when addressing the inequities caused by white privilege?
  • Does our congregation reflect the world around us?
    • Are we willing to change to serve our neighbors? Are we willing to embrace the discomfort and vulnerability that come with change and growth?
    • Can we live in to our mission and values without change?
    • What does it mean for us to serve our neighbors in Bellevue, Washington?
Go to top

Did You Know…..

About Land Acknowledgments: What they are and what they mean?
For those of you who attended the November 7 Adult Discipleship Hour Forum put on by the Racial Justice Group, you may remember that we started the meeting with a Land Acknowledgment. The Land Acknowledgment that was read was:
We, at Saint Andrew’s Lutheran Church, acknowledge that in this space that we are on the traditional lands of the Duwamish and Coast Salish people. A people that are still here, continuing to honor and bring to light their ancestral heritage.
According to Delilah Friedler of Teen Vogue [1]:
The purpose of these statements is to show respect for indigenous peoples and recognize their enduring relationship to the land. Practicing acknowledgment can also raise awareness about histories that are often suppressed or forgotten.
“There have always been indigenous peoples in the spaces we call home, and there always will be,” Kanyon Sayers-Roods, a Mutsun Ohlone activist in Northern California, tells Teen Vogue. The Ohlone are indigenous to the Bay Area, and Kanyon is often invited to make acknowledgment statements at events in San Francisco and Oakland.
“The acknowledgment process is about asking, What does it mean to live in a post-colonial world? What did it take for us to get here? And how can we be accountable to our part in history?” she says.
If you want to find out more about land acknowledgments, the local Duwamish Tribe has excellent information on their website – https://www.duwamishtribe.org/. To find out what Indigenous People lived on the land where you are, explore this map by Native Land: https://native-land.ca/
[1] https://www.teenvogue.com/story/indigenous-land-acknowledgement-explained referenced December 7, 2021

The ELCA recently released a Declaration to American Indian and Alaska Native People confessing we have benefited from, participated in and been complicit in practices that have harmed Indigenous people?
It then pledges to honor, learn from, and support Native leadership in working toward justice and equity for Indigenous people. You can read the full Declaration here: https://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Declaration_to_American_Indian_Alaska_Native.pdf

The Duwamish People are still not recognized by the Federal Government?
The Duwamish are the First People of present-day Seattle, a name of the Tribe’s most well-known leader, Chief Si’ahl (Seattle). Did you know that the Duwamish people are still not recognized by the Federal Government despite this history? If you’d like to support this tribe in their pursuit for recognition, you can sign the petition: https://www.change.org/p/federal-recognition-for-the-duwamish-tribe. To find out more information about the Duwamish people, visit https://www.duwamishtribe.org/

You can watch short videos (3 to 10 minutes) that are entertaining, enlightening, and thought-provoking about Racism called “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man”?
Emmanuel Acho is a former professional football player and broadcaster who has produced some videos which answer questions about racism as he dialogues with guests in short episodes. He is also the author of the book Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.  Visit: www.uncomfortableconvos.com

It is projected that by 2060, the population of children (18 and under) who are two or more races will double?
See the report from the U.S. Census Bureau
Bellevue is recognized in Washington for its cultural diversity. About 50% of its population identifies with a non-white race or ethnicity and 43% speak a language other than English.
See https://bellevuewa.gov/city-government/departments/community-development/data/demographic-data/city-demographic-profile

courtesy gayatri malhotra; unsplash.com

That systemic racism in our community and country causes huge income and opportunity gaps for Blacks, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)?
Many of our local charities see the impact of those gaps every day. We are looking at the statements they are making and the actions they are taking to counter this racial injustice. We have collected samples from five of our local charities.
Hopelink: Hopelink is working hard to create an Equitable Community Free of Poverty. They have taken a Pledge to build that community and ask all of us to take that pledge. Check out that pledge (and take it yourself) as well as see their Equity Statement and BLM Statement at this site: https://www.hopelink.org/takethepledge
Hopelink devoted much of their fall fund raising event to a panel discussion on “How can we create an equitable community free of poverty?” The panelists in the discussion are Soledad O’Brien, Gordon McHenry Jr., and Brittany Packnett Cunningham. Check out the recording of this event at: https://vimeo.com/469103344  The panel discussion starts about halfway through the video.

Imagine Housing: Imagine Housing, too, sees the impact of racial injustice. In their racial justice statement titled “In Solidarity: Black Lives Matter” they state: “Imagine Housing stands in solidarity with those in our communities faced with racial injustice.” And “Amidst COVID-19, we recognize that a much larger pandemic exists in our country that must be addressed – racism.” At this link you can read their statement and see their list of resources to learn more about Anti-Racism: https://imaginehousing.org/anti-racism/

The Sophia Way: Here is a statement from the Director of Client Services and Shelter Programs at The Sophia Way, Dietra Clayton: “What we see at the shelter is a mirror of what is happening with society on a bigger scale. There are systemic issues – poverty, racism, lack of living wages, out-of-reach rents – that contribute to rising homelessness, and the disproportionate number of women of color who are homeless.”
“Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are disproportionately affected by inequities in housing. 46% of women seeking shelter at The Sophia Way are women of color”. Check out their post titled “In Solidarity” here: https://sophiaway.org/in-solidarity/

Congregations for the Homeless (CFH): CFH in their “Our Message Against Systemic Racism and its Impact on Men We Serve” say that “…systemic racism is at the heart of homelessness in our country.” This message includes an excerpt from a message that their Executive Director, David Bowling, sent to all CFH staff last May. Check out the message at this link: https://www.cfhomeless.org/cfh-news/

Compass Housing Alliance: The Compass Housing Alliance website has a post of a message from their Interim Executive Director, Mary Steele. That message includes this statement. “In Seattle and King County, homelessness and housing instability disproportionately affect People of Color. Last year, 31% of the people we served were Black compared to only 6% in the local King County population. This is personal to us, as we see these statistics reflected daily in the very real faces seeking the refuge of our services.” Check out the full message at this link: https://www.compasshousingalliance.org/2020/06/black-lives-matter/.

Disparities in health outcomes caused by systemic racism have led King County to declare racism a public health crisis?
You can read the resolution here: www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/board-of-health/~/media/depts/health/board-of-health/documents/resolutions/BOH-resolution-20-08.ashx

Anti-Black Racism remains an issue here in Bellevue even with a Black population of less than 4%?
Racial slurs and attacks continue at our area high schools and are rarely effectively addressed to prevent recurrences even with a robust Equity Policy and anti-bias training. Read one student’s perspective of her experiences at Newport High School in the Seattle Times.

That you can sign a pledge to fight racism?
You can join others in the ELCA to pledge to do whatever you can to end racism in our community, church, country and our world. “As church we are called to confess the sin of racism, condemn the ideology of white supremacy, and strive for racial justice and peace. Beyond statements and prayers, we are called to also act and respond to injustices.” Go to https://www.elca.org/racialjusticepledge to learn more and sign the pledge.

That a local TV program examines race, social justice, and racial inequality in the Pacific Northwest?
If you are seeking information on how these issues are affecting our local communities, this is an excellent place to start. Hosted by local anchor Joyce Taylor, “Facing Race” airs Sundays at 9:30 p.m. on KING 5. The previous episodes are available on KING 5’s YouTube channel

Go to top

courtesy markus winkler; unsplash.com


Actions We Can Take: a list of resources and ideas of specific actions we can take to be of help to our neighbors, particularly those who are being treated unjustly.

Books for Adults

Please consider ordering books from a local, Black-owned bookstore. We have included links to Estelita’s Library. A Black-owned Seattle bookstore with online ordering.


The Hate U Give  – Angie Thomas


His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope by Jon Meacham
Biography of John Lewis’s contributions and participation in the Civil Rights movements in the U.S. from the early 1960s-2020. The focus of this book is largely on his participation in the movement in the 1960s. Meacham outlines Lewis’s unwavering religious and philosophical convictions that lead him to the movement and conscience that guided his behavior.

Between the World and Me – Ta Nehisi Coates –
Autobiography, black man growing up Gen X

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness – Austin Channing Brown
“From a leading voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female that exposes how white America’s love affair with ‘diversity’ so often falls short of its ideals.”

This is Your Time – Ruby Bridges
Written as a letter from civil rights activist and icon Ruby Bridges to the reader, This Is Your Time is both a recounting of Ruby’s experience as a child who had no choice but to be escorted to class by federal marshals when she was chosen as one of the first black students to integrate New Orleans’ all-white public school system and an appeal to generations to come to effect change.

 Click here to listen to a six-minute interview with Ruby Bridges centering around her book  


Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
Just Mercy tells the story of Bryan Stevenson’s attempts to help those on death row in the U.S., particularly those in the state of Alabama where he sets up an Equal Justice Initiative. Chapters deal with specific cases – and the issues around treating juveniles as adults in the U.S. justice system of the day, of making no allowance for mental disabilities, and through it all, ongoing prejudice against black people and poor people built into the judicial system.

Dear Church – Lenny Duncan
“A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S.”

How To Be an Antiracist – Ibram X Kendi –
This book discusses the concepts of racism and proposals for anti-racist individual action and systemic change.

The Myth of Equality –
Specifically coming at the history of anti-black racism from a Christian perspective and how the Church was the root. Good entry-level book.

Lies my Teacher Told Me
General US history but most of the lies are related to the foundations of white supremacy and the stories that were not told. Good entry level book (and super fascinating in general.)

White Fragility – Robin d’Angelo
Intermediate-level, not a great place to start learning about racism.

So you want to talk about Race – Ijeoma Oluo
Intermediate level.

The Cross and the Lynching Tree – James H. Cone
Examines the interconnection of these two symbols with history and the souls of black folk.

The Color of Law – Richard Rothstein
“A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” – exploring residential racism and redlining.

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States – Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

An African American and Latinx History of the United States – Paul Ortiz

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor – Layla F. Saad

The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander

I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision for Racial Reconciliation – Chanequa Walker-Barnes

How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide – Crystal Marie Fleming

Just Mercy – Bryan Stevenson

Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery – Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah

Go to top

courtesy of nathan; unsplash.com

Books for Children


Smoky Night – Eve Bunting
This is a fictional story that takes place during the LA Riots.

Storm Boy – Owen Paul Lewis
After a violent sea storm, a Haida prince washes ashore in the supernatural realm of the strange and colossal killer whale people. There his spiritual journey begins.
More on Lewis’ work to honor the hero’s journey and indigenous peoples in his writing: http://www.ankn.uaf.edu/iks/hail/StormBoy.html


The 5 o’clock Band – Trombone Shorty

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race


Antiracist Baby – Ibram Kendi (Board Book)

A is for Activist – Innosanto Nagara (Board book available ABC book)

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning – Ibram Kendi

Go to top


Lee Daniel’s The Butler
Lee Daniels The Butler is the story of an African American man who becomes the White House butler during the Eisenhower years and serves through the Reagan administration. The story is told in a chronological order, so that the viewer gets to see the world changing, particularly for African Americans through the eyes of this butler. This changing world and the way father and son seek to bring about that change creates something of a generational conflict between the two that takes decades to resolve.

The Hate You Give – Free on Prime –
A young woman’s life is forever changed when she witnesses a childhood friend’s fatal shooting at the hands of a police officer.


Te Ata
Te Ata (TAY’ AH-TAH) is based on the inspiring, true story of Mary Thompson Fisher, a woman who traversed cultural barriers to become one of the greatest Native American performers of all time. Born in Indian Territory, and raised on the songs and stories of her Chickasaw tribe, Te Ata’s journey to find her true calling led her through isolation, discovery, love and a stage career that culminated in performances for a United States president, European royalty and audiences across the world. Yet of all the stories she shared, none are more inspiring than her own.

42 – The Jackie Robinson Story
America’s first black major league baseball player.

Something the Lord Made
Story of Dr. Alfred Blalock and lab technician Vivien Thomas as they work together at Johns Hopkins Hospital.


About the passing of the 13th amendment and how it deliberately allowed for slavery of prisoners and how that has evolved. Civil War to Clinton.

Just Mercy
About the disparities of the criminal justice system, Story of a black man wrongly convicted and sentenced to death for a murder he didn’t commit.

When They See Us  Netflix
Television miniseries based on the events of the Central Park Jogger case. Five men are falsely accused and prosecuted for the rape and assault of a woman in Central Park, New York City.

Selma – Several platforms
Story of the events in the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery Alabama when marchers were brutally attacked by police and troopers.

Go to top

courtesy chris henry; unsplash.com


Seeing White with host John Biewen – SceneOnRadio.org
A fourteen-part series exploring “whiteness” and “white privilege” as it developed since the end of slavery.

UNDISTRACTED with Brittany Packnett Cunningham
Brittany Packnett Cunningham is an activist, educator, and popular TV commentator – and a trusted voice for millions of people interested in social justice. Now, with UNDISTRACTED – an original podcast from The Meteor and Pineapple Street Studios – she aims her focus on the most pressing issues of our time through the lens of intersectional feminism. From the latest headlines to deep-dives with today’s most fascinating changemakers, UNDISTRACTED is your weekly guide to the revolution.

Nice White Parents 
A five-part series hosted by Chana Joffe-Walt – Serial Productions, a New York Times Company.
If you want to understand what’s wrong with our schools, you have to look at what is arguably the most powerful force in shaping them: white parents.

Go to top

Facing Race – Hosted by Joyce Taylor – King TV, Sundays at 9:30 pm
Examines race, social justice, and racial inequality in the Pacific Northwest.

Go to top

An article in the Equality section of the website.

https://www.racepowerofanillusion.org/  – Race – The Power of an Illusion.
A series discussing the origins, beliefs and consequences of what we call race.

What can you do about racism? Investigate the White Homework class.

SEED=Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity
Their work involves fighting hate, teaching tolerance and seeking justice.

https://www.splcenter.org/  – Southern Poverty Law Center.
They are dedicated to fighting hate, teaching tolerance and seeking justice.

Children’s book resources about racism.

https://nmaahc.si.edu/about/news/national-museum-african-american-history-and-culture-releases-talking-about-race-web – Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. A People’s Journey, A Nation’s Story.

A workbook for a 2-day basic workshop and other resources for organizations to use in educating and organizing against racism.

Go to top
Social Media


Facebook video that gives background on Ruby Bridges – 6-year old girl – first black student to attend all white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana November 1960.

Go to top
YouTube Videos

Race in America – A Holy Post Video
This one is from the creator of Veggie Tales so he comes at racism from a Christian perspective.
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGUwcs9qJXY
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-yun74BJEc
Part 3(ish) – more about civics and party affiliation  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4eS2E-PoGo

Uncomfortable conversations with a Black Man
This series is also pretty good. Although we have some small quibbles with how he presents some things, his take on interracial relationships and raising mixed race kids was spot on.

Go to top