Even if you don’t go to Big Tent and participate in my workshop, you can explore the possibilities in writing your own parable involving race and racism. I encourage you to take the following scenario and see what happens for you as you take twenty minutes to write your own parable. Don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. Just write and see what develops.
Gaining New Members
Setting: A modest size church (either predominantly Caucasian or African American—the opposite of the writer) Experiencing a slight decline in membership the past few years. Pastor and prominent member meet for coffee.
Precipitating event: Because of a new housing development, many new residents have moved into the community. The church has had a reputation for being dynamic, and many of the new residents are attracted to the services. It becomes evident that fifty or more families from the opposite ethnic identity of the dominant population of the church are interested in joining.
Ralph Johnson: Major figure in the church. Sixty years of age, married to Ethel, who is also active in the church. Both have been members for thirty years and very influential in church decision making. He is a modest businessman in his community and tends to prefer calm and steady approaches to life.
Scott Berkshire: Been pastor of the church for five years Mildly liberal but always concerned about pleasing all members and avoiding conflict. Is married and has two children in elementary school. Good preacher and extrovertish personality. Takes his faith quite seriously and values his integrity.
The subject is race, prejudice, and racism. Read your scenario, add one or two characteristics to each dialogue character—physical, emotional, social, past history, etc.
Begin to write the dialogue among the characters listed. Avoid stereotypes. Allow each of your characters to display positive and negative qualities and to show both understanding and prejudice in their conversation.
Don’t overthink what you have them say. Just begin and let the conversation flow.
Ralph: “Pastor, I’m concerned that you are not aware of the potentially negative impact of all these new members coming into our church . . . ”