This year, the Disability Concerns ministry team decided to host a book club. We invited our advisory committee/guiding coalition—a team of volunteers with a passion to encourage and promote our ministry—to join us for this event. Over the course of a few months, we met periodically to discuss the book White Picket Fences: Turning toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege, written by Amy Julia Becker. Contemplating the journey we went on when we launched this book club, I doubt that any of us who came together for it could have anticipated how timely these discussions would be this year.
One of the reasons this book was chosen for our book is because we had had the privilege of meeting Amy Julia in Niagara Falls when she was a guest speaker at our 2016 Disability Concerns Leadership Training event. Her presentation was very powerful. Amy Julia is a mother of three, and her eldest, Penny, was born with Down Syndrome. She reflects on the importance of looking at our common humanity and how we can enter inter dialogue with others from a posture of humility and with a desire to learn. As we delved into her book, it was an eye-opening experience for all of us to consider the privilege we have. But she moves us along on the journey to look at what hope could look like for our world. This is a much needed conversation in the world today.
As we neared the end of our book club, we reached out to Amy Julia, letting her know about our book club and inviting her to join us for the last session via zoom. She generously accepted our invitation and we had the privilege of being able to discuss her book with her. Amy Julia is an excellent speaker and a brilliant writer, but more than that, she is a fellow Christian, on a journey with us, exploring our shared humanity.
Thank you for joining us Amy Julia!
Reviews from the Disability Concerns Ministry Book Club:
The frank and honest openness with which Amy Julia Becker led the reader through the awakening of her quiet, but long standing, racism is reassuring and inspiring. As a reader, I was willing, chapter by chapter, to come to my own position of white privilege and was aided in my experience of "coming out" to my own racial presumptions and attitudes.
—Beverly Sullivant, Pastor, Reformed Church in Kinnelon (RCA).
Perhaps the thing that struck me most clearly reading this book was that those of us who live with privilege hate that word. We focus so much on that word, on rejecting, on fighting against the accusation of privilege, that we get distracted from our real purpose. Amy Julia’s book graciously walks us through an understanding of our privilege and the opportunity we have in Christ to move beyond it. Not only are we called to move beyond our privilege to help others, we will not realize our potential in Christ until we reject our privilege for the sake of others. We are called to submit to one another out of our reverence for Him.
—Dan Vander Plaats, Director of Advancement, Elim Christian Services
In White Picket Fences, Amy Julia Becker gives a refreshingly humble and personal look at the tensions and perspectives that lie beneath the noisy surface of conversations about "privilege." Becker's gentle and honest approach prompted me to genuinely reflect upon my own upbringing, worldview, and (consequently) the unchallenged biases I still hold - not just related to racial differences, but to anything that makes us uniquely different as humans. The book was invitational, not relying on guilt to get its point across but, rather, thoughtfulness. Most importantly, this book is grounded upon a worldview where God is creator, Christ is redeemer, and the Spirit is helper. I'd recommend it to any Christian who is ready to humbly approach the topic of privilege.
--Vinnie Adams, Special Needs Ministry Director | Dyer Campus Worship Leader, Faith Church | Central Staff
To find out more about Amy Julia, visit Amy Julia Becker’s website. You can access a wealth of information on her site, including additional resources for White Picket Fences such as a Bible study guide, discussion guide, and action guide to develop your own book club.
To listen to her speak, enjoy this webinar recorded by the Collaborative on Faith and Disability called Places of Belonging: Using Our Heads, Hearts, and Hands to Overcome Social Divisions with Amy Julia Becker
To follow Amy Julia on Facebook: @amyjuliabeckerwriter