Minneapolis churches respond to racism and protests

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Members of Hamline Church receive and sort donations of essential supplies that will be given to residents who need them.

By: Christa Meland
Rev. Shawna Horn’s call to ministry has always centered around reconciliation—people being connected to one another and to God. Her congregation, Fairmount Avenue UMC in St. Paul shares her passion for racial justice and in recent years has engaged in small group discussions, learning series, and intentional efforts to identify and dismantle racism and white supremacy.   
After George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, and subsequent riots limited neighbors’ access to essential supplies at a time when many were already struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic, members knew they needed put their beliefs into action.
Fairmount Avenue UMC and Hamline Church are among several Twin Cities-area United Methodist churches providing hands-on assistance in immediate cleanup and relief efforts while also exploring how to engage in the longer-term work of addressing the root causes of racism.
Both located in close proximity to St. Paul’s University Avenue, where fires and destruction closed many businesses, the two churches decided to partner when it became clear needs would be great.
Last weekend, their members helped secure Emma Norton Residence, a dorm-style building that houses homeless women and families. Both churches also became food and supply collection sites. Their own members have donated items, but other local churches are also hosting drives and bringing items to the two churches to hold onto until they are needed for distribution within the community. Each time new items arrive at Fairmount Avenue or Hamline, members sort them into meal packs.
While these short-term relief efforts will continue for some time, Horn is also committed to leading her congregation in the deeper work of dismantling systemic racism.
“Peace without equity is really just oppression,” she said.