New season of ‘1001’ podcast focuses on racial injustice and faith

New Way host asks: ‘Why do people of faith impose limits on God’s justice and mercy?’

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

New Way podcasts featuring conversations with an ACLU staff attorney and a hospice chaplain and grief recovery specialist are now available.

LOUISVILLE — In light of what New Way podcast host  the Rev. Sara Hayden describes as “the new round of organizing, strategy and action sparked by the most recent, shocking, continual — and yet unsurprising — anti-Black violence of our time,” the podcast of the 1001 New Worshiping Communities movement has begun a new season focused on racial injustice and faith.

Hayden introduces part one of her conversation with Kosha Tucker, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Georgia’s Smart Justice Campaign, this way:

“How do we, as people of faith, show up and organize in the relentless chaos of our time? How do we interrogate privileges that benefit those of us who live in white skin and systematically disenfranchise those who don’t — especially those of us who are Black?”

Kosha Tucker

Prior to joining the ACLU to work to end mass incarceration and reduce social disparities in the criminal justice system, Tucker worked for six years as an attorney at the DeKalb County Public Defender’s Office representing children and adults charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses.

In the first part of the conversation, available now, Tucker talks with Hayden about the racial disparities within the criminal justice system, about her life growing up in a small southern town, the lessons she learned from her father about being Black — and also her Baptist church.

Told in Sunday school about the difference of being of the world and of Christ, she always thought in order to be a good Christian she had to be perfect, because there were so many boxes she had to check to accomplish the role of being a good Christian.

“I was reflecting on that and thinking about how that aligns with what I believe society expects of Black people in general, what I feel society expected of me in general,” she said.  “I had to be a perfect Christian. I couldn’t make mistakes. If I did make a mistake, whatever happened to me, I deserved.”

Hayden said listeners may wonder why a podcast about faith and ecclesiology is spending so much time on criminal court cases and community organizing. But she hopes listeners will explore that tension, along with the question, Why do we as people of faith impose limits on God’s justice and mercy?”

“There’s a world in which our faith is connected. Theology isn’t done in a vacuum,” she said.  “These podcast conversations are clarifying that.”

As she and New Way producer the Rev. Marthame Sanders “listen, engage and pose tough questions to ourselves and listeners, we aim to prompt faithful action and invite imagination about a more faithful church and world in the months and years to come,” Hayden said.

“If we take seriously the Reformed tenets of the sovereignty of God, the Lordship of Christ and the primacy of the Word, then our faith ought to inform everything we do,” Sanders said. “That’s why we care about racial injustice, the PC(USA)’s Matthew 25 vision and invitation, and the movement for Black lives.”

The second part of the “New Way” conversation with Tucker will drop on Thursday.

Zeena Regis

In the first episode of season five, Hayden speaks with Zeena Regis, a Decatur, Georgia-based hospice chaplain and grief recovery specialist. During their conversation, Regis said that a lot of the Black patients with whom she works are in hospice care because they haven’t been treated well in the health care system.

Black patients told her that for years they had a sense that something wasn’t right. They kept going to doctors who just didn’t take their concerns seriously.

“And now they have Stage IV cancer,” Regis said. “It’s one of the things in hospice that often feels so difficult and insurmountable.”

According to Sanders, since January of 2020, “New Way” has more than doubled its estimated listenership, from 700 to 1,500 weekly listeners.

You can listen to the podcast directly from the website. For a free subscription to New Way so that each new episode is automatically downloaded to your listening device, click here (for Apple) or click here (for Stitcher) or click here (for Spotify) or click here (for Google Play).

 If you need information on how to listen to a podcast, click here.

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