McBride to discuss ending violence, racism in communities

When the Rev. Michael McBride was physically and sexually assaulted by a police officer as a college student in 1999, he knew he wasn’t the only member of his congregation to have a similar experience.

“[It] became very clear to me as I was going through this that there were many more individuals in my congregation that went through this same experience, but they did not see the church community as a place to go to get support,” McBride said. “It made it into a challenge: What is it about how we are engaging in spiritual formation where people are not able to address some of the most important parts of their lives?”

McBride, director of the Lifelines to Healing Campaign, will give a lecture titled “Unleashing the Power of Faith to Live Free” at 2 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy.

The challenge presented to McBride after his experience with the police has informed his work at Lifelines to Healing, a nonprofit that seeks to eliminate the criminalization and exclusion of people of color and dismantle the systems of white supremacy, racism and dehumanization, McBride said.

“If we take seriously that these are forces that must be dismantled, then I think it also moves us to realize that communities cannot provide the optimal space for human flourishing with these realities [in place],” he said.

To accomplish these goals, Lifelines to Healing works to empower congregations and communities and to mobilize their members to help end violence and criminalization.

While the kind of change sought by Lifelines to Healing does not require a religious foundation, McBride sees a “need for Christian imagination and [our] ability, as people of faith, to draw from the best traditions of the ability to forecast, describe and project a world and community where people can thrive and experience human flourishing.”

This flourishing can be seen in McBride’s vision of a liveable community, which he envisions as a place where inclusion dismantles prejudice and societal harmony eliminates violence.

In addition to his work with Lifelines to Healing, McBride is the founder and pastor of Way Christian Center in Berkeley, California. In 2012, the Center for American Progress pegged McBride as No. 9 on its “13 Progressive Faith Leaders to Watch in 2013.”

Through these efforts, McBride aims to guide the congregations and communities he works with toward a brighter future.

“The world is waiting for religious communities to help feed new dreams and visions that can catalyze another space for human flourishing,” he said.