Focus on Faith – Understanding Racism is ‘Soul Work’ for Group of Residents at Chelsea Retirement Community (CRC)

Focus on Faith –  Rev. Lois McCullen Parr, member of UMRC’s Spiritual Life team, and Rev. Jackie Holdsworth, a retired United Methodist pastor and resident of CRC’s Prairie Cottages, teamed up to facilitate “Making the Invisible Visible” – a class on the reality of racism, offered for residents at CRC.

“It’s not a comfortable class,” says Lois who also facilitates seminars on race and cultural proficiency training in Washtenaw County called Alliance for Change.  “It is complex and deep and difficult.”

Lois and Jackie, an “alumna” of the program, wondered if they could take some elements of Lois’ more intensive workshop to create something workable for the residents at CRC.   After a presentation last spring which Lois offered during a Lenten lecture series, residents were eager to learn more.

Jackie and Lois offered a four-session class on race as a social construct, the invention of “white,” the relationship between race and socio-economic class, and skills practice and tools for conversation.  Thirteen CRC residents completed the class.  “I really respect the courage and willingness of these participants, in this season of life, to be vulnerable with each other and to put themselves on the line in this class,” says Lois.  “Their lens for viewing how systems work became broader and more informed – they demonstrated what it is to be a lifelong learner.”

Last fall, these friends from Albion, Michigan facilitated another iteration of the class with an additional seven CRC residents completing the course.  “The combined grads from these two classes have created a residents’ group at CRC to effect some change,” says Jackie.

Lois and Jackie are quick to note that this is not a religion class.  “But it is soul work,” says Lois.  “Participants come out of the class feeling the burden of racism, but they also feel the desire and freedom to do something about it,” says Jackie.  “That’s where the joy comes in.”

To learn more about UMRC and Chelsea Retirement Community, contact 734-433-1000 or visit