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Do Americans share a dream?

For many people, January has become a month to examine beliefs about the American Dream, especially its promise for people of color. The Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday certainly has catalyzed such reflection, though there are few indications that the conversation has advanced significantly in recent years.

In 2010, Minnesota Lutherans have a new opportunity to crack the shell that surrounds so much pertaining to racism. Under the banner “Dare to Dream,” two Lutheran umbrella organizations — LINC-Twin Cities and Faith in the City — bring new energy to the discussion.

More than 42 percent of the students in Augsburg College’s incoming freshman class this year are students of color. In 2001, the full student body was 8.6 percent students of color; in 2009, it is 35 percent.

More than 42 percent of the students in Augsburg College’s incoming freshman class this year are students of color. In 2001, the full student body was 8.6 percent students of color; in 2009, it is 35 percent.

“Many places talk about racism, but we want to go beyond raising awareness,” Deborah Hutterer, executive director of Faith in the City, told Metro Lutheran. “We will explore Biblical stories about undoing racism, and we will offer a tool kit so that people can put into practice what they learn —in their congregations, workplaces, or neighborhoods.”

“The conference will help Christians come to learn practically how to be a positive influence on the fabric of community,” added Sue Hewitt, executive director of LINC-Twin Cities. “We will see how we can celebrate our community and share values with our neighbors.”

LINC-Twin Cities’ strategic network includes Concordia University, St. Paul; The Oswald Hoffmann School of Christian Outreach; Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) Minnesota South District; and individual LCMS congregations.

Partner organizations that comprise Faith in the City include Augsburg College, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) Saint Paul Area Synod, Fairview Health Services, the ELCA’s Minneapolis Area Synod, Luther Seminary, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS), and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

“We have invited LCMS and ELCA congregations, as well as other Lutheran institutions — universities, publishers, service providers — so we can see the possibilities of living in unity and right relationships, no matter where we are,” said Hewitt.

A conference with a mission

Partner groups are also addressing diversity issues. “At LSS, we have developed a policy on anti-racism to support our diversity objectives,” explained Joyce Norals, vice president and chief human services officer. “To underscore the importance of this initiative, we also include cultural competency as a performance measure for all managers within the organization.” Twelve percent of LSS employees are persons of color.

Fairview Hospital has 40 employees serving as volunteer “benefits tutors” for other employees who may have trouble accessing or understanding benefits or services, according to Mark Eustis, president and CEO. The Minnesota Hospital Association recognized Fairview’s program with a 2009 award.

“Dare to Dream” will be held at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Park on January 26, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The cost for the day is $20, which includes lunch. Advance registration is required by January 12 at www.faithinthecity.org or by calling Hutterer at 612/359-6499.

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