Hamilton Park, Arapaho UMCs Striving For 'Racial Understanding'

Bus Tour group shot

Churches continue their Journey Toward Racial Justice with bus trip to learn about the history of racism in Dallas

Cathy Sweeney is the Associate Pastor of Adult Discipleship at Arapaho UMC.

On Jan. 21, Hamilton Park and Arapaho UMCs joined together to learn more about the history of racism in Dallas.

Ninety-one people — 40 from The Park and 51 from Arapaho — loaded two buses and journeyed throughout downtown and Southern Dallas, with stops at Freedmen's Cemetery, The Bottom, the State Thomas area, St. Paul UMC and more. Following the tour, the group discussed what they learned over lunch at Two Podners Restaurant, a Black-owned BBQ and seafood joint near Fair Park.

“Sharing the Hidden Dallas Tour with Arapaho UMC fleshed out what it means to have racial understanding,” said Rev. Dr. Sheron Patterson, senior pastor of Hamilton Park UMC. “The Arapaho UMC members learned about our history, as we learned about our history too. The dual learning creates understanding.”  

The groups first started building relationships in 2021. The Park's building was seriously damaged in the ice storm and the congregation worshipped in Arapaho's sanctuary on Sunday afternoons. Further relationship building came from Arapaho's implementation of the Journey Toward Racial Justice program, led by Rev. Cathy Sweeney and guided by Fred Marsh, conference representative and Hamilton Park member.

Since then, the two churches have joined in Together We Dine events and at The Park's production of Simon of Cyrene in April 2022. The Park invited Arapaho to help with their "Path to Nourishment" monthly food distribution, which has helped to build friendships among the group.

But by far the best attended, and most impactful, was the Hidden History Bus Tour.

"Hearing the stories from our tour guides, followed by first-hand experiences shared by Hamilton Park members — those stories made the history real and more relevant for those who were not alive or present at the time," Rev. Sweeney said.

Arapaho member Kenton Self wrote about his journey toward racial justice after the tour.

Next up for Hamilton Park and Arapaho UMCs? Continuing the vital conversations, expanding intercultural competence and helping to address and build institutional equity that comes after years of inequity from systems that negatively impact persons of color. We are excited about continuing the journey.

Journey Toward Racial Justice

Published: Thursday, February 9, 2023