General Synod News

General Synod News

No Balaam's voicing uncomfortable truths at 2015 Synod

For the second time since its inception, there will be no Balaam's Courier to serve as an alternative voice for General Synod goers. Due to the deaths of Balaam's founder the Rev. Ted Braun on Feb. 23 and his wife, Donna, on March 4, Balaam's is on indefinite hiatus, and most likely will not return.


General Synod 2015 theme, General Synod 2017 location announced

How have you found God in an unexpected moment or place? That's a question people from across the life of the UCC will ponder during General Synod 2015 next summer as part of the gathering's theme, "Unexpected Places."


United Church of Christ to become first U.S. denomination to move toward divestment from fossil fuel companies

general_synod_29_04.jpgA set of strategies to attack climate change — which includes a path to divestment from fossil fuel companies — was passed by General Synod 2013 Monday afternoon at the Long Beach Convention Center. This action on July 1 makes the United Church of Christ the first major religious body in the U.S. to vote to divest from fossil fuel companies.

The resolution, brought by the Massachusetts Conference and backed by 10 other conferences, calls for enhanced shareholder engagement in fossil fuel companies, an intensive search for fossil fuel-free investment vehicles and the identification of "best in class" fossil fuel companies by General Synod 2015.

By June 2018, a plan would be prepared to divest UCC funds in any fossil-fuel company, except for those identified as "best in class" which the Rev. Jim Antal, the major proponent of the resolution, called an "oxymoron," noting that no such fossil fuel companies are likely to exist.

"Today, the national Synod of the UCC added another 'first' when it became the first national faith communion to vote to divest from fossil fuel companies – and to do it with the support of its major investment institution, United Church Funds," Antal said.

"This resolution becomes a model for all faith communities who care about God's creation and recognize the urgent scientific mandate to keep at least 80 percent of the known oil, gas and coal reserves in the ground. . .  This vote expresses our commitment to the future. By this vote, we are amplifying our conviction with our money."

The original proposal brought to General Synod called for a five-year movement toward divestment. In committee, a substitute resolution that Antal and the leadership of United Church Funds collaborated on to address the UCF and Pension Boards concerns of their fiduciary responsibility to maximize investment.

"This resolution calls on each and all of us to make difficult changes to the way we live each day of our lives," said Donald Hart, UCF president. "Implementing the multiple strategies outlined in this resolution will demand time, money and care — but we believe Creation deserves no less."

The Pension Boards didn't participate in the negotiations that led to the substitution resolution that was ultimately adopted. After the vote, Michael A. Downs, Pension Boards CEO issued a statement that his organization "will support and implement the resolution, to the extent possible, within our legal responsibilities as fiduciaries of the Annuity Plan for the UCC, acting on behalf of the active and retired members who have entrusted their retirement assets to us."

During the floor debate, a number of delegates urged consideration of the economic impact this course of action will have on jobs and the economies of states like Montana, Wyoming and Kentucky, which are heavily dependent on the fossil fuel industry.

"Let’s talk real divestment here," Mark Wampler of Iowa Conference said. "Divest yourself of your airline tickets and find a non-carbon way to go home."

The General Synod also passed a resolution on making UCC church buildings more carbon-neutral. Earlier in the week, the committee amended the proposal to call on UCC congregations to conduct energy audits on their facilities as the first step toward carbon neutrality. Sara Brace, committee chair and delegate from the Pennsylvania Northeast Conference of the UCC, also stressed that achieving carbon neutrality can be a gradual process for congregations.

"The encouragement portions of the resolution are what resonated with many committee members," said Brace. "By reducing our carbon footprint, we are helping the environment one step at a time."


Synod exhibit hall coordinator gets a visit that makes it all worthwhile

Valerie Smith has been the exhibit hall coordinator for what is now seven General Synods.  It's a massive job of juggling on Day 1 – making sure all the exhibitors can get all their merchandise, displays, and resources in, set up, and ready for the throngs of visitors who converge on the hall to see what there is to see as the exhibit area opens to the public for the first time.  It's a pretty intricate job of coordination. This time though, everything that could go wrong went wrong – the hall didn't come together as quickly as usual, with missing boxes, late deliveries and lots of questions and confusion – until she got a special visitor who made her day.

But, as to why he was special, you need the back story.

"A couple months ago I got a call from a young man interested in our church," Smith said. "He said he stumbled across the UCC website and wanted to know if our church was really okay with homosexuals. In his culture, he said, homosexuality is not acceptable."

After assuring the young man that the UCC is the church of extravagant welcome, Smith said he asked about churches in his hometown of Chicago. He also wanted to know more about General Synod (he pronounced it Sigh-nod), and "he got real excited. He said he wanted to go, and was just thankful that he could find a church like ours. I told him if he came to California, hey, I'm in the exhibit hall and I'd love to meet you."

Saturday, as she was taking a breather during "a pretty rough day," Smith was approached by a young man asking about the Scarf Project. "Some kid comes up to me and says, ‘Hey, what are all those scarves for?'" And as Smith explained that the 10,000 scarves were collected as part of a pledge to stand up against LGBT bullying, the young man said, "Wow, that is deep – this is my first Sigh-nod." That's when Smith knew she'd been sent a message.

"I said, I talked to you a few months ago, and he said, ‘You're Valerie – I can't believe you are the first person I talked to here,'" Smith said, adding that the young man then got tears in his eyes. "After 24 months of work getting ready – this is why we do this," she said. "Changing lives – It really warms my heart."


50th Anniversary Oral History Project

The United Church of Christ Archives announces the 50th Anniversary Oral History Project. This exciting project will capture the experiences of those who participated and witnessed the events surrounding the formation of the United Church of Christ, from 1946-1961.

The UCC Archives has contracted Mr. Oloye Adeyemon to manage the first phase of the project. Mr. Adeyemon brings to the project his many years of expertise in oral history. Mr. Adeyemon has served as an independent contractor with the Federal Government; has founded and directed the Legacy Program at the University of Cincinnati Raymond Walters College; directed the 50th Anniversary “Brown v. Board” Oral History Project for the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program; and has conducted oral history training sessions across the country, including a three-day seminar at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

The first phase of the 50th Anniversary Oral History Project includes the identification of participants and witnesses of the events during the time of the formation of the United Church of Christ from 1946-1961. Background interviews of all those identified will be conducted. Due to the limited funding, staffing, and time-frame, we can only conduct between 20-30 oral history interviews during this phase. It is a difficult decision to make. The interviews will be transcribed to provide greater access to the valuable history and insights gathered.

We hope to conduct the rest of the interviews in future phases, but that is entirely dependent upon funding.

The project is funded in part by a grant from The Louisville Institute and a donation from Mr. Oloye Adeyemon.


A Politics of Conscience

It's great to be here. I've been speaking to a lot of churches recently, so it's nice to be speaking to one that's so familiar. I understand you switched venues at considerable expense and inconvenience because of unfair labor practices at the place you were going to be having this synod. Clearly, the past 50 years have not weakened your resolve as faithful witnesses of the gospel. And I'm glad to see that.  

It's been several months now since I announced I was running for president. In that time, I've had the chance to talk with Americans all across this country. And I've found that no matter where I am, or who I'm talking to, there's a common theme that emerges. It's that folks are hungry for change – they're hungry for something new. They're ready to turn the page on the old politics and the old policies – whether it's the war in Iraq or the health care crisis we're in, or a school system that's leaving too many kids behind despite the slogans.  

But I also get the sense that there's a hunger that's deeper than that – a hunger that goes beyond any single cause or issue. It seems to me that each day, thousands of Americans are going about their lives – dropping the kids off at school, driving to work, shopping at the mall, trying to stay on their diets, trying to kick a cigarette habit – and they're coming to the realization that something is missing. They're deciding that their work, their possessions, their diversions, their sheer busyness, is not enough.  

They want a sense of purpose, a narrative arc to their lives. They're looking to relieve a chronic loneliness. And so they need an assurance that somebody out there cares about them, is listening to them – that they are not just destined to travel down that long road toward nothingness.  

And this restlessness – this search for meaning – is familiar to me. I was not raised in a particularly religious household. My father, who I didn't know, returned to Kenya when I was just two. He was nominally a Muslim since there were a number of Muslims in the village where he was born. But by the time he was a young adult, he was an atheist. My mother, whose parents were non-practicing Baptists and Methodists, was one of the most spiritual souls I ever knew. She had this enormous capacity for wonder, and lived by the Golden Rule. But she had a healthy skepticism of religion as an institution. And as a consequence, so did I.  

It wasn't until after college, when I went to Chicago to work as a community organizer for a group of Christian churches, that I confronted my own spiritual dilemma. In a sense, what brought me to Chicago in the first place was a hunger for some sort of meaning in my life. I wanted to be part of something larger. I'd been inspired by the civil rights movement – by all the clear-eyed, straight-backed, courageous young people who'd boarded buses and traveled down South to march and sit at lunch counters, and lay down their lives in some cases for freedom. I was too young to be involved in that movement, but I felt I could play a small part in the continuing battle for justice by helping rebuild some of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods.  

So it's 1985, and I'm in Chicago, and I'm working with these churches, and with lots of laypeople who are much older than I am. And I found that I recognized in these folks a part of myself. I learned that everyone's got a sacred story when you take the time to listen. And I think they recognized a part of themselves in me too. They saw that I knew the Scriptures and that many of the values I held and that propelled me in my work were values they shared. But I think they also sensed that a part of me remained removed and detached – that I was an observer in their midst.  

And slowly, I came to realize that something was missing as well – that without an anchor for my beliefs, without a commitment to a particular community of faith, at some level I would always remain apart, and alone.  

And it's around this time that some pastors I was working with came up to me and asked if I was a member of a church. "If you're organizing churches," they said, "it might be helpful if you went to church once in a while." And I thought, "Well, I guess that makes sense."  

So one Sunday, I put on one of the few clean jackets I had, and went over to Trinity United Church of Christ on 95th Street on the South Side of Chicago. And I heard Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright deliver a sermon called "The Audacity of Hope." And during the course of that sermon, he introduced me to someone named Jesus Christ. I learned that my sins could be redeemed. I learned that those things I was too weak to accomplish myself, He would accomplish with me if I placed my trust in Him. And in time, I came to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death, but rather as an active, palpable agent in the world and in my own life.  

It was because of these newfound understandings that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity one day and affirm my Christian faith. It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany. I didn't fall out in church, as folks sometimes do. The questions I had didn't magically disappear. The skeptical bent of my mind didn't suddenly vanish. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt I heard God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth and carrying out His works.  

But my journey is part of a larger journey – one shared by all who've ever sought to apply the values of their faith to our society. It's a journey that takes us back to our nation's founding, when none other than a UCC church inspired the Boston Tea Party and helped bring an Empire to its knees. In the following century, men and women of faith waded into the battles over prison reform and temperance, public education and women's rights – and above all, abolition. And when the Civil War was fought and our country dedicated itself to a new birth of freedom, they took on the problems of an industrializing nation – fighting the crimes against society and the sins against God that they felt were being committed in our factories and in our slums.  

And when these battles were overtaken by others and when the wars they opposed were waged and won, these faithful foot soldiers for justice kept marching. They stood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, as the blows of billy clubs rained down. They held vigils across this country when four little girls were killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church. They cheered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial when Dr. King delivered his prayer for our country. And in all these ways, they helped make this country more decent and more just.  

So doing the Lord's work is a thread that's run through our politics since the very beginning. And it puts the lie to the notion that the separation of church and state in America means faith should have no role in public life. Imagine Lincoln's Second Inaugural without its reference to "the judgments of the Lord." Or King's "I Have a Dream" speech without its reference to "all of God's children." Or President Kennedy's Inaugural without the words, "here on Earth, God's work must truly be our own." At each of these junctures, by summoning a higher truth and embracing a universal faith, our leaders inspired ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things.  

But somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked. Part of it's because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who've been all too eager to exploit what divides us. At every opportunity, they've told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their Church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage; school prayer and intelligent design. There was even a time when the Christian Coalition determined that its number one legislative priority was tax cuts for the rich. I don't know what Bible they're reading, but it doesn't jibe with my version.  

But I'm hopeful because I think there's an awakening taking place in America. People are coming together around a simple truth – that we are all connected, that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper. And that it's not enough to just believe this – we have to do our part to make it a reality. My faith teaches me that I can sit in church and pray all I want, but I won't be fulfilling God's will unless I go out and do the Lord's work.  

That's why pastors, friends of mine like Rick Warren and T.D. Jakes and organizations like World Vision and Catholic Charities are wielding their enormous influence to confront poverty, HIV/AIDS, and the genocide in Darfur. Religious leaders like my friends Rev. Jim Wallis and Rabbi David Saperstein and Nathan Diament are working for justice and fighting for change. And all across the country, communities of faith are sponsoring day care programs, building senior centers, and in so many other ways, taking part in the project of American renewal.  

Yet what we also understand is that our values should express themselves not just through our churches or synagogues, temples or mosques; they should express themselves through our government. Because whether it's poverty or racism, the uninsured or the unemployed, war or peace, the challenges we face today are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect ten-point plan. They are moral problems, rooted in both societal indifference and individual callousness – in the imperfections of man.  

And so long as we're not doing everything in our personal and collective power to solve them, we know the conscience of our nation cannot rest.  

Our conscience can't rest so long as 37 million Americans are poor and forgotten by their leaders in Washington and by the media elites. We need to heed the biblical call to care for "the least of these" and lift the poor out of despair. That's why I've been fighting to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and the minimum wage. If you're working forty hours a week, you shouldn't be living in poverty. But we also know that government initiatives are not enough. Each of us in our own lives needs to do what we can to help the poor. And until we do, our conscience cannot rest. 

Our conscience cannot rest so long as nearly 45 million Americans don't have health insurance and the millions more who do are going bankrupt trying to pay for it. I have made a solemn pledge that I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family's premiums by up to $2500 a year. That's not simply a matter of policy or ideology – it's a moral commitment.  

And until we stop the genocide that's being carried out in Darfur as I speak, our conscience cannot rest. This is a problem that's brought together churches and synagogues and mosques and people of all faiths as part of a grassroots movement. Universities and states, including Illinois, are taking part in a divestment campaign to pressure the Sudanese government to stop the killings. It's not enough, but it's helping. And it's a testament to what we can achieve when good people with strong convictions stand up for their beliefs.      

And we should close Guantanamo Bay and stop tolerating the torture of our enemies. Because it's not who we are. It's not consistent with our traditions of justice and fairness. And it offends our conscience.  

But we also know our conscience cannot rest so long as the war goes on in Iraq. It's a war I'm proud I opposed from the start – a war that should never have been authorized and never been waged. I have a plan that would have already begun redeploying our troops with the goal of bringing all our combat brigades home by March 31st of next year. The President vetoed a similar plan, but he doesn't have the last word, and we're going to keep at it, until we bring this war to an end. Because the Iraq war is not just a security problem, it's a moral problem.  

And there's another issue we must confront as well. Today there are 12 million undocumented immigrants in America, most of them working in our communities, attending our churches, and contributing to our country.   

Now, as children of God, we believe in the worth and dignity of every human being; it doesn't matter where that person came from or what documents they have.  We believe that everyone, everywhere should be loved, and given the chance to work, and raise a family.   

But as Americans, we also know that this is a nation of laws, and we cannot have those laws broken when more than 2,000 people cross our borders illegally every day.  We cannot ignore that we have a right and a duty to protect our borders.  And we cannot ignore the very real concerns of Americans who are not worried about illegal immigration because they are racist or xenophobic, but because they fear it will result in lower wages when they're already struggling to raise their families.   

And so this will be a difficult debate next week.  Consensus and compromise will not come easy.  Last time we took up immigration reform, it failed.  But we cannot walk away this time.  Our conscience cannot rest until we not only secure our borders, but give the 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country a chance to earn their citizenship by paying a fine and waiting in line behind all those who came here legally.   

We will all have to make concessions to achieve this.  That's what compromise is about.  But at the end of the day, we cannot walk away – not for the sake of passing a bill, but so that we can finally address the real concerns of Americans and the persistent hopes of all those brothers and sisters who want nothing more than their own chance at our common dream.   

These are some of the challenges that test our conscience – as Americans and people of faith. And meeting them won't be easy. There is real evil and hardship and pain and suffering in the world and we should be humble in our belief that we can eliminate them. But we shouldn't use our humility as an excuse for inaction. We shouldn't use the obstacles we face as an excuse for cynicism. We have to do what we can, knowing it's hard and not swinging from a naïve idealism to a bitter defeatism – but rather, accepting the fact that we're not going to solve every problem overnight, but we can still make a difference.  

We can recognize the truth that's at the heart of the UCC: that the conversation is not over; that our roles are not defined; that through ancient texts and modern voices, God is still speaking, challenging us to change not just our own lives, but the world around us.  

I'm hearing from evangelicals who may not agree with progressives on every issue but agree that poverty has no place in a world of plenty; that hate has no place in the hearts of believers; and that we all have to be good stewards of God's creations. From Willow Creek to the 'emerging church,' from the Southern Baptist Convention to the National Association of Evangelicals, folks are realizing that the four walls of the church are too small for a big God.  God is still speaking.   

I'm hearing from progressives who understand that if we want to communicate our hopes and values to Americans, we can't abandon the field of religious discourse. That's why organizations are rising up across the country to reclaim the language of faith to bring about change. God is still speaking.   

He's still speaking to our Catholic friends – who are holding up a consistent ethic of life that goes beyond abortion – one that includes a respect for life and dignity whether it's in Iraq, in poor neighborhoods, in African villages or even on death row. They're telling me that their conversation about what it means to be Catholic continues. God is still speaking.  

And right here in the UCC, we're hearing from God about what it means to be a welcoming church that holds on to our Christian witness.  The UCC is still listening.  And God is still speaking.   

Now, some of you may have heard me talk about the Joshua generation. But there's a story I want to share that takes place before Moses passed the mantle of leadership on to Joshua. It comes from Deuteronomy 30 when Moses talks to his followers about the challenges they'll find when they reach the Promised Land without him. To the Joshua generation, these challenges seem momentous – and they are. But Moses says: What I am commanding you is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven. Nor is it beyond the sea. No, the word is very near. It is on your lips and in your heart.  

It's an idea that's often forgotten or dismissed in cynical times. It's that we all have it within our power to make this a better world. Because we all have the capacity to do justice and show mercy; to treat others with dignity and respect; and to rise above what divides us and come together to meet those challenges we can't meet alone. It's the wisdom Moses imparted to those who would succeed him. And it's a lesson we need to remember today – as members of another Joshua generation.  

So let's rededicate ourselves to a new kind of politics – a politics of conscience. Let's come together – Protestant and Catholic, Muslim and Hindu and Jew, believer and non-believer alike. We're not going to agree on everything, but we can disagree without being disagreeable. We can affirm our faith without endangering the separation of church and state, as long as we understand that when we're in the public square, we have to speak in universal terms that everyone can understand. And if we can do that – if we can embrace a common destiny – then I believe we'll not just help bring about a more hopeful day in America, we'll not just be caring for our own souls, we'll be doing God's work here on Earth.  Thank you.


Multiracial Multicultural Church Pronouncement

Multiracial and Multicultural Church 

Resolution "Statement of Christian Conviction of the Proposed Pronouncement Calling the United Church of Christ to be a Multiracial and Multicultural Church"

93-GS-33 VOTED: The Nineteenth General Synod adopts the "Statement of Christian Conviction of the Proposed Pronouncement Calling the United Church of Christ to be a Multiracial and Multicultural Church."

Statement of Christian Conviction of the Proposed Pronouncement Calling the United Church of Christ to be a Multiracial and Multicultural Church

IV. STATEMENT OF CHRISTIAN CONVICTION

A. The Nineteenth General Synod calls upon the United Church of Christ in all its settings to be a true multiracial and multicultural church. A multiracial and multicultural church confesses and acts out its faith in the one sovereign God who through Jesus Christ binds in covenant faithful people of all races, ethnicities and cultures. A multiracial and multicultural church embodies these diversities as gifts to the human family and rejoices in the variety of God's grace.

B. The Nineteenth General Synod recognizes the following as marks of a multiracial and multicultural church:

1. CONFESSIONAL: A multiracial and multicultural church is called by God through Jesus Christ to acknowledge and confess its sins of racism and to repent and refrain from all acts of racial discrimination and bigotry.

2. THEOLOGICAL: A multiracial and multicultural church affirms Christian unity while celebrating the theological and liturgical richness that arises from its racial and ethnic diversity.

3. MISSION: A multiracial and multicultural church is called to participate in God's mission of doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God through Christ in all communities with all peoples in all places.

4. INCLUSIVE MINISTRY: A multiracial and multicultural church uses an inclusive and equitable procedure for the calling, placement and standing of ministers in the church while providing equal access to employment in all settings of the church: locally, regionally, nationally, globally and ecumenically.

5. RACIAL JUSTICE STRUCTURE: A multiracial and multicultural church has a full-time national racial justice agency that seeks to coordinate programmatic strategies and involve the entire membership of the church in making racial justice a reality in church and society.

6. MONITORING BODY: A multiracial and multicultural church has a racial and ethnic body to monitor all settings of the church on issues of racial and ethnic inclusivity in the ministry, mission and programs.

7. PROPHETIC ADVOCACY: A multiracial and multicultural church engages in effective prophetic advocacy and public policy development on the issues of racial, social, economic and environmental justice with particular concern as to how these issues impact the quality of life of people of color communities.

8. MULTILINGUAL: A multiracial and multicultural church supports the development and dissemination of multilingual resources for use throughout the church and facilitates the translation of all official church documents such as the constitution and bylaws, creeds or statements of faith into languages that are spoken fluently in the local churches.

9. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION COMMITMENT: A multiracial and multicultural church affirms acommitment to accomplish specific affirmative action goals and objectives.

10. CHRISTIAN EDUCATION, EVANGELISM, AND NEW CHURCH DEVELOPMENT: Amultiracial and multicultural church develops, supports and implements strategies concerning evangelism and new church development in racial and ethnic communities; challenges and invites every member of local congregations to move beyond traditional comfort zones in living out God's multiracial and multicultural mandate; and prepares Christian education resources relevant to the diversity of racial and ethnic Christian faith traditions and cultures within the church.

11. SEMINARY TRAINING: A multiracial and multicultural church encourages related seminaries knowledge concerning the diversity of cultural heritages and theological traditions of the racial and ethnic constituencies of the church.

12. FAITHFUL AND EQUITABLE STEWARDSHIP: A multiracial and multicultural church plans and implements strategies to help ensure and promote a faithful and equitable stewardship and sharing of the financial resources of the church in regard to the empowerment of all local churches, and in particular the empowerment of local racial and ethnic congregations that have been marginalized due to racial discrimination in society.

15. RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING A PROPOSAL FOR ACTION ON CALLINGTHE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST TO BE A MULTIRACIAL AND MULTICULTURALCHURCH

Assistant Moderator Malaski asked Ms. Bagley to continue with the report of Committee One. Ms. Bagley asked the delegates to find the appropriate materials in Report Pack C. She explained that, in addition to the Pronouncement, the Committee was assigned the Proposal for Action and the resolution entitled Resolution of "Affirmation of Previous Declarations, Pronouncements, Resolutions and Proposals for Action Pertaining to Institutional Racism and a Request to Implement the Recommendations of the Pastoral Letter on Contemporary Racism Throughout the United Church of Christ." Ms. Bagley stated that many of the issues the Committee discussed were contained in both the Resolution and the Proposal for Action. Consequently, after contacting the submitters of both pieces of business, the Resolution was consolidated into the Proposal for Action. She then spoke to the recommendations.

The Rev. Ronald Kurtz proposed a friendly amendment to add the Stewardship Council to #11 of the directional statement. The committee accepted the amendment.

Mr. Robert Sandman (OH) proposed the following amendment to the directional statement: To insert a paragraph after paragraph 2, section 3, Directional Statement. The paragraph to read: Believes furthermore that when each member and setting of the United Church of Christ acknowledges and confesses the sins of racism, God does forgive us and does love us still. God's forgiveness, however, is no license to go and sin again. Instead, this state of forgiveness and love is the beginning of the journey toward learning to become a multiracial and multicultural church.

Mr. Sandman spoke to the amendment. A discussion and vote followed.

93-GS-34 VOTED: The Nineteenth General Synod defeats the amendment.

There was more discussion regarding the original recommendation, and some questions of clarification were asked.

93-GS-35 VOTED: The Nineteenth General Synod adopts the "Recommendations Regarding a Proposal for Action on Calling the United Church of Christ to be a Multiracial and Multicultural Church." as amended.

A PROPOSAL FOR ACTION ON CALLING THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST TO BE A MULTIRACIAL AND MULTICULTURAL CHURCH

Ill. DIRECTIONAL STATEMENT

Whereas the Nineteenth General Synod has adopted the Pronouncement on Calling the United Church of Christ to be a Multiracial and Multicultural Church, and whereas General Synod in the Statement of Christian Conviction recognized the marks of a multiracial and multicultural church, the Nineteenth General Synod:

1. Calls upon the United Church of Christ in all its settings to be a true multiracial and multicultural church and to affirm a commitment to achieve this goal;

2. Calls upon all members, congregations, associations, conferences, instrumentalities, other national bodies, and related institutions of the United Church of Christ to acknowledge and confess faithfully their sins of racism, to repent and refrain from all acts of racial discrimination and bigotry, to confront indifference, ignorance and neglect, and to participate in deliberate study and action to stem the resurgent tide of racism in American society by identifying the root causes of racism as well as other forms of discrimination and oppressive acts that preclude our fulfillment of our covenant with God and each ocher;

3. Calls upon all members, congregations, associations, conferences, instrumentalities, other national bodies and related institutions of the United Church of Christ to affirm consistently the necessity of Christian unity while celebrating the theological and liturgical richness that arises from the racial and ethnic diversity of the United Church of Christ; and to participate actively in God's mission of doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God in all communities with all peoples in all places;

4. Calls upon all congregations, associations, conferences, instrumentalities, other national bodies, related institutions and future General Synods of the United Church of Christ consciously to elect, now and evermore, significant numbers of persons of all races, ethnicities and cultures to policy- making positions throughout the church;

5. Calls for an ethic of accountability in our relationships with each other in all settings of the church by empowering the national instrumentalities to collaborate and work collectively to develop and implement the study and action process of the "Pastoral Letter on Contemporary Racism" throughout the United Church of Christ; to incorporate the concern for institutional racism in all future plans and program implementation, and to request Council of Racial and Ethnic Ministries (COREM) to monitor continually the implementation of this Proposal for Action throughout the United Church of Christ, reporting to each General Synod through the Executive Council on the church's efforts, progress, and status in eradicating intentional and unintentional acts of racism in church and society;

6. Calls upon the Office for Church Life and Leadership, associations, conferences, and all other pertinent local, regional and national bodies to use an inclusive and equitable procedure for the recognition of calling, determination of placement and standing of ministers in the United Church of Christ; and to ensure equal access to employment in all settings of the United Church of Christ;

7. Calls upon the Commission for Racial Justice, in close consultation with COREM and its constituent bodies, to continue to coordinate the implementation of programmatic strategies in all settings of the UCC to challenge racial injustice, discrimination, and bigotry; and to provide leadership in helping to mobilize and involve the entire membership of the UCC to make racial justice a reality for all peoples in church and society;

8. Calls upon the Office for Church in Society, Commission for Racial Justice, Coordinating Center for Women, United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, United Church Board for World Ministries, other national bodies and all other settings to engage in effective prophetic advocacy and public policy development on the issues of racial, social, economic and environmental justice, in particular as to how these issues impact the quality of life of people of color communities in the United States and throughout the world; and that these bodies seek new creative opportunities toexperience the multiracial and multicultural realities of our world;

9. Calls upon all settings of the United Church of Christ to support the development and dissemination of multilingual resources for use throughout the UCC and where appropriate tofacilitate the translation of all official church documents such as the UCC Constitution and Bylaws, Statement of Faith and Statement of Mission into languages that are being spoken fluently in UCC local churches;

10. Calls upon the Executive Council and all settings of the United Church of Christ to reaffirm a commitment to accomplish the affirmative action goals and objectives that have been adopted by the General Synod; and to conduct a church-wide affirmative action audit to ascertain the current status of affirmative action within the life of the UCC;

11. Calls upon the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, the Stewardship Council, associations and conferences, in close consultation with COREM and its constituent bodies, to develop, support and implement new programmatic strategies concerning evangelism and new church development in racial and ethnic communities across the nation, particularly in those areas undergoing rapid demographic changes with increased populations of communities of color;

12. Calls upon the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, in close consultation with COREM and its constituent bodies, to prepare and make available Christian Education resources and materials relevant to the diversity of racial and ethnic Christian faith traditions and cultures within the United Church of Christ;

13. Calls upon the colleges and seminaries related to the United Church of Christ to expand curriculum development and educational programs to include awareness and knowledge concerning the diversity of cultural heritages and theological traditions of our multiracial and multicultural world;

14. Calls upon the Stewardship Council, Commission on Development, United Church Foundation, Pension Boards and other national bodies of the United Church of Christ to plan and implement a strategy to help ensure and promote a faithful and equitable stewardship and sharing of the financial resources of the UCC in regard to the empowerment of all local churches and in particular the empowerment of local racial and ethnic congregations that have been marginalized due to racial discrimination in society;

15. Calls upon the Office of Communication to communicate the United Church of Christ's multiracial and multicultural diversity policy and the multiracial and multicultural realities of the United Church of Christ and to promote the transition of the United Church of Christ into a truly multiracial and multicultural church; and

16. Calls upon the President of the United Church of Christ, the Secretary, the Director of Finance and Treasurer, the Executive Council, Council of Conference Ministers, Council of Instrumentality Executives, pastors and lay leaders of local congregations of the United Church of Christ to provide leadership, nurture and support towards the fulfillment of the Pronouncement and the implementation of this Proposal for Action Calling the United Church of Christ to be a Multiracial and Multicultural Church.

IV. IMPLEMENTATION

The Nineteenth General Synod directs the Commission for Racial Justice and the Office for Church in Society to coconvene an Implementation Committee which will coordinate the implementation of this Proposal for Action and requests a report to be made to all subsequent General Synods. The Office of the President, the Commission for Racial Justice, the Office for Church in Society. Stewardship Council, United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, United Church Board for World Ministries, the Office for Church Life and Leadership, Coordinating Center for Women, Council of Racial and Ethnic Ministries and the Council of Conference Ministers are to have representatives on the Implementation Committee.

Subject to the availability of funds.

 


Anti-Racist Church

UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST CALLED TO BE AN ANTI-RACIST CHURCH

 

ADOPTED 2003 GENERAL SYNOD MULTIRACIAL/MULTICULTURAL ADDENDUM TO 1993 PRONOUNCEMENT AND PROPOSAL FOR ACTION

 

WHEREAS, racism is rooted in a belief of the

superiority of whiteness and bestows benefits,

unearned rights, rewards, opportunities,

advantages, access, and privilege on Europeans

and European descendants; and

 

WHEREAS, the reactions of people of color to

racism are internalized through destructive

patterns of feelings and behaviors impacting

their physical, emotional, and mental health and

their spiritual and familial relationships; and

 

WHEREAS, through institutionalized racism,

laws, customs, traditions, and practices

systemically foster inequalities; and

 

WHEREAS, the United Nations World

Conference against Racism, Racial

Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related

Intolerance affirmed that racism has historically

through imperialism and colonization created an

unequal world order and power balance with

present global implications impacting

governments, systems, and institutions; and

 

WHEREAS, the denomination has shown

leadership among many UnitedChurch of Christ

conferences, associations, and local

congregations by initiating innovative antiracism

programs, by developing anti-racism

facilitators, and in general have made

dismantling racism a priority, there is still much

to be done. As we continue in this effort, the

work we do must reflect the historical and

present experiences and stories of all peoples

impacted by racism. We must work from a

paradigm reflective of the historical

relationships of racial and ethnic groups and

racial oppression within the UnitedChurch of

Christ and society; and

 

WHEREAS, the United States finds itself in

increased racial unrest during this period after

the tragedy of September 11, 2001. New studies

show that hate crimes and blatant acts of racial

violence doubled in number during the last half

of 2002 and are continuing to rise. These

outward acts, combined with continued

institutional racism, emphasize the need for antiracism

mobilization within church and society as

we seek to do justice; and

 

WHEREAS, there are growing movements of

peace that have people of all races, backgrounds,

and ages involved, urging us to expand our

knowledge of what racism is and study its

ramifications on all people; and

 

WHEREAS, General Synods of the United

Church of Christ have, since 1963, voted eleven

resolutions, statements, and pronouncements

denouncing racism, and it is time to honor

mandates and expectations of this body and of

the church.

 

THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED, that the

United Church of Christ is called to be an antiracist

church and that we encourage all

Conferences and Associations and local

churches of the UnitedChurch of Christ to adopt

anti-racism mandates, including policy that

encourages anti-racism programs for all United

Church of Christ staff and volunteers; and

 

LET IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED, that

Conferences and Associations and local

churches facilitate programs within their

churches that would examine both historic and

contemporary forms of racism and its effects and

that the programs be made available to the

churches; and

 

LET IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED, that

Justice and Witness Ministries provides

leadership in the development and

implementation of programs to dismantle

racism, working in partnership with the

Collegium, Covenanted Ministries, Affiliated

Ministries, Associated Ministries, Conferences,

Associations and local churches in developing

appropriately trained anti-racism facilitators; and

 

LET IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED, that the

Covenanted Ministries of the United Church of

Christ work in concert to dismantle racism in

church and in society and partner with

Conferences and Associations in sharing

resources and costs associated with doing antiracism

work.

 

LET IT BE FINALLY RESOLVED, that the

Justice and Witness Ministries will report the

progress of the development and implementation

of these programs at the Twenty-fifth General

Synod.

 

Funding for the implementation of this

resolution will be made in accordance with the

overall mandates of the affected agencies and

the funds available.

 


Archives

What is the United Church of Christ Archives?

What the UCC Archives Does:

- Collects, preserves, and provides access to the records of the UCC from around the time of the creating Union in 1957 onward. 

- Acts as the office of records management for the national setting of the denomination.

- Provides guidance for how to manage current and historical records to all settings of the denomination.

What is in the UCC Archives:

The records, photographs, resources, and objects from around the time of the creating Union in 1957 onward.

A selection of a few of the vast resources include:

Records from the national offices
        - UCC Yearbooks
        - General Synod Minutes
        - Executive Council Minutes
        - Resources developed by national offices
        - Documentation about the formation of the UCC
        - Records of projects and innitiatives

- Collections from national UCC organizations, committees, councils and groups
        - Council for Health and Human Services
        - UCC Historical Council

- Personal papers of people involved in the work of the national setting of the denomination
        - Rev. Arthur Clyde's collection of hymnals
        - Rev. Harold Wilke's papers documenting his work in the UCC

- Conference publications and newsletters

- Written histories of local churches, associations, conferences, and other UCC-related ministries

On-Line Resources

Electronic versions of General Synod Minutes, The Constitution and Bylaws and New Conversations are now available at rescarta.ucc.org.

All documents are searchable by keyword, and are complete to present. 

 Partnerships with other Historical Organizations:

The UCC Archives works closely with other archives that hold the records of the denominations that united to form the UCC. Please visit the Historical Council page to find more information about those institutions. 


Does your church's 'extravagant welcome' include 'accessible to all'?

Somewhere in the post-General Synod clamor about "marriage equality" and "economic leverage," a few frustrated voices wondered aloud how their equally weighty resolution on disability ministries could win delegates' overwhelming approval but miss the wider church's spotlight.

Ministry with and among those with physical, mental and developmental disabilities needs more than mere lip service, they say. Real work is needed across the church.

"We want the initials A2A [accessible to all] right up there alongside ONA [open and affirming] and M&M [multiracial, multicultural]," the Rev. Grant F. Sontag of Mountain View, Calif., wrote to United Church News last year. "Our presence, our witness and our ministry are essential to the life of the whole UCC and not just a part of it."

To the detriment of the church's self-proclaimed "extravagant welcome," argues Sontag and others, the UCC has not given enough energy to accessibility issues. But the solution, they insist, is not competition with other justice movements, but a multi-pronged emphasis on inclusive evangelism.

"We treasure the church's up-front approach on major social issues," says the Rev. David Denham, pastor of Bethel UCC in Arlington, Va., and UCC Disabilities Ministries consultant, "but the time has come for the church to lead on this issue, just as it has on many other key issues throughout our history.

"My greatest frustration is that we do not give parallel attention to A2A as we do M&M and ONA," Denham says. "The disability issue crosses all races, cultures and sexual orientations. Disability is not a separate issue. It is woven into the fabric of our humanity. I feel and observe that we miss these things as a church."

Since General Synod, Denham says, the UCC Disability Ministry (UCCDM) has been meeting with UCC leaders "to develop a strategy to alter the course on this issue."

The approved General Synod resolution, "Called to wholeness in Christ: Becoming a church accessible to all," submitted by the Minnesota Conference, calls on UCC Conferences, Associations, congregations, seminaries, campus ministries and colleges, camps, covenanted ministries and all other UCC organizations "to become accessible to all; to embody a philosophy of inclusion and interdependence; and to support and implement the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

The resolution reaffirms and strengthens a 1995 statement that had earlier called the UCC to embrace the "spirit" of the ADA.

Ministry 'with,' not 'to'

The Rev. Jo Clare Hartsig of Wayzata, Minn., who took a lead role in writing and editing UCCDM's congregational resource, "Any Body, Everybody, Christ's Body" - published last year - says the church's mindset, above all, is what needs attention.

It's not ministry "to" persons with disabilities, she says, but ministry "with" and "by" persons with different types of abilities. Her teaching mantra? "Never about me without me."

"I guess the first thing to consider is, 'Who do we become when we become accessible to all?' says Hartsig. "We become more inclusive, more like Martin Luther King's 'beloved community.'

"The reality of disability is that it fills a spectrum," she says, "from people who have significant kinds of impairments, those with purely physical disabilities, those with learning disabilities, those with brain disorders to those with hidden - not immediately visible - disabilities, those with disabilities from birth, those with disabilities from trauma or illness, to those with the diminishments of capacities as part of aging.

"At some point or another, especially if we live long enough, most members of the UCC will acquire some kind of disability," Hartsig emphasizes.

The Rev. Dearthrice DeWitt, a UCC disabilities ministries advocate, agrees. "It is important for a minister to understand the difference between ministry to, ministry for, ministry with and ministry by people with disabilities."

Dewitt, who is African American, says his passion for disabilities ministries stems from several circumstances, but especially a life- changing friendship with a seminary classmate with cerebral palsy.

"We learned a lot from each other about disability and race," DeWitt says. "There was always humor between us as well.

"I'll never forget the time a relative visited me and made an ignorant comment about my friend," DeWitt remembers. "I was embarrassed, but did not excuse them. I acknowledged how ignorant the comment - and person - was. Now [my friend] and I can laugh about it."

DeWitt says the place for individuals and churches to start is with the celebration of "somebodiness," as he calls it, borrowing a term from his Black Church experience - "a somebodiness that is as gifted to serve themselves, me, the church and God as any of us who are temporarily able-bodied."

The Rev. Joan C. Jones, a chaplain at UCC-related Emmaus Homes in Missouri, the region's largest provider of assisted-living housing for adults with developmental disabilities, says there are plenty of resources available to help churches, if only they'd ask. The UCC's Council for Health and Human Services has 77 member institutions that offer a range of services.

"Invite us in, and let us help give some ideas about how churches can be welcoming," she says.

Jones, along with fellow chaplain the Rev. Christy May, offers weekly worship, Bible study and spiritual care at Emmaus' seven campuses across southeastern Missouri. They've developed a "spiritual life inventory" that helps them assess how Emmaus' ministry - and other ministries - can benefit from the gifts and graces of residents.

"We have the tool to interview individuals and more deeply discover what matters to them spiritually," Jones says.

Similarly, Jones suggests that churches find specific ministries that persons with disabilities might be interested in pursuing.

"They are not to be pitied," Jones insists. "They have lives with lots of potential. I learn everyday something new as long as I am willing to listen and not think that I have to teach or instruct."

Jones recalls one resident who, early on, seemed to be regularly acting out by taking others' bulletins during worship. Soon, Jones realized the Emmaus resident actually wanted to be a greeter and distribute bulletins.

"To this day, she hands them out and collects them when we're done," Jones says. "She feels part of things, and we periodically recognize and affirm her."

A commitment, not a 'check list'

The Rev. Peg Slater, the UCC's minister for diversity and inclusion, believes no one is "opposed" to the UCC's A2A commitment, but some in the church do not know where to begin.

"It seems quite overwhelming to some people when I speak with them," Slater says. "Others just want resources - a check list - but do not want to go too deep into the issue.

"Getting the church to understand that people with disabilities are just people is a primary step in becoming accessible to all," Slater says. "Many people are uncomfortable or afraid of persons with disabilities. Disability seems 'out of control.' People are afraid it is 'catchy,' people want to know what 'went wrong' or who is 'at fault' in the case of disability. Others don't want to 'hurt' disabled persons more than they are already 'hurt' or 'broken.' In many of our congregations there is a fear that people with disabilities will take 'too much of our time.'"

And then there's the practical concern about which changes a church should try to implement first.

"There is huge spectrum of disability in our midst," Slater says. "Trying to do the right thing is also overwhelming."

Hartsig observes that many evangelical churches are ahead of mainline churches when it comes to effective disabilities ministries.

"I am part of a large, interfaith inclusion group here in the Twin Cities," Hartsig says. "I have been so deeply impressed with the array and complexity of disability ministry offerings in the large, evangelical congregations around town. One church hosts support groups for families, one-on-one peer helpers for Sunday School children with disabilities, respite care, lectures, support in school settings, financial help, special needs consultation, special camp sessions, hospitality space for disability advocacy groups, social events. . Contrast this with our local council of churches - my people - which has very little to say about disability ministries, and they've been asked."

The Rev. Priscilla Bizer, vice president for development at Emmaus Homes, says many churches forget that public policy advocacy is crucial step that churches can take. Government cuts to Medicaid and Medicare dramatically impact residents at UCC facilities, as well as others with disabilities, she says.

Likewise, Jones says advocacy is often overlooked by churches as ministry.

"We need to engage congregations to do more advocacy," Jones says. "This is the most vulnerable population, along with children. It's crucial."

Changed lives

Before coming to Emmaus eight years ago, Jones was pastor of a rather-proper UCC church in Pennsylvania. But, now, in a ministry that serves persons with development disabilities, Jones has learned to appreciate the disruptions can occur in church, especially one that's accessible to all. And that's okay.

"I was very particular about the liturgy, and then I came here and that all came undone," she says. "I had to learn to accept that. I had to accept that disruption will be a fact, even though you can redirect it."

"You can either be spontaneous about it and have a sense of humor about it, or let it get it you," she says. "That's not to say it has to be chaotic, but it can be a challenge."

"But I was called here, and I love it," Jones says. "It has changed my life."

Hartsig, who was "chosen" by the disability advocacy community in 1999 when her oldest son was diagnosed with autism, says she yearns for the day "when a set of stairs in any public facility, even a church, will be looked upon as a reminder of the dark days before Universal Design."

During her 25-plus years as a justice advocate, Hartsig has approached social change as a multi-issue campaign.

"What I appreciate so much about the UCC is our alphabet soup approach to our covenanted community," Hartig says. "We are seeking to be all these things - A2A, M&M, ONA - because they all matter, we all matter. I think we can help each other along and assure ourselves that we are providing the deepest kind of welcome and sense of belonging possible."

Slater, who learned 12 years ago that she has Rheumatoid Arthritis, says her disability has taught her a lot about herself and others.

"I have learned that community is built when I need help and when I give help," Slater says. "I learned to swallow pride and develop pride in myself - as I am."

 

More than a ramp up
Practical tips for improving your church's accessibility

Stress the person, not the disability.

Always speak directly to persons with a disability instead of talking only to their companions.

Don't hesitate to ask a person if you can help. Then follow his or her instructions.

Provide seating so family and friends can stay together, not separate. Shorten some pews so that persons in wheelchairs can sit with/among other worshipers.

Do not move a wheelchair, cane or crutches out of reach of the person who uses them.

If you must lift a wheelchair, follow person's instructions carefully. She or he knows what works best.

Honor decisions. A person who uses a wheelchair may, at times, choose to walk.

When greeting a person with a hearing disability, never speak directly into the person's ear. Speak clearly, slowly and normally. Provide audio aids, as necessary and requested. If necessary, communicate in writing.

Resist the urge to complete words or sentences for persons with a speech disability. Give your full, unhurried attention.

When greeting a person with a visual disability, identify not only yourself but your role (usher, greeter, pastor, etc.). Offer a bulletin whether the person can read it or not. Make sure large-print bulletins and hymnals are available.

Some persons with mental illness may be disruptive. Designate one or two church members willing to approach such a person quietly. Accompany them to a place where they can talk aloud.

If some are uncomfortable assisting those with developmental disabilities, find those more inclined to help. Empower those who can explain the service, share a hymnal or be a companion at lunch or times of fellowship.

In case of seizure, don't attempt restraint or put objects in the person's mouth. Move objects or furniture to prevent injury. After seizure, offer reassurance and a comfortable place to rest.

Keep contact numbers posted by church telephones. A seizure could be a sign of epilepsy, stroke or a reaction to medication. Quickly find a nurse, doctor or informed family member to attend to the person's needs while emergency medical assistance is contacted.

To invite full participation, make accessible not only the major areas of the church facility, but also the choir loft, lectern/pulpit and chancel.

Adapted suggestions from "Any Body, Everybody, Christ's Body," a congregational resource created by the UCC Disability Ministries. Order by calling United Church of Christ Resources at 800/537.3394.

Learn more at uccdm.org.

 

Take the accessibility test

Is your church taking steps to become accessible to all? Critique your congregation's progress.

1. AWARENESS. Recognition by some congregation members or the ordained religious leadership that certain barriers were preventing children or adults with physical, sensory, psychiatric or intellectual disabilities from accessing a full life of faith (including worship, study, service and leadership).

Not started | Getting started | Well on our way | We're there

2. ADVOCACY. (Internal) Growing advocacy within the congregation to welcome people with disabilities as full participants and to remove barriers (architecture, communications and attitudes) to this participation.

Not started | Getting started | Well on our way | We're there

3. DISCUSSIONS. Concerns raised regarding ability of the congregation to meet the challenges (e.g., Are there enough people with this need to justify the expense? Will people with disabilities feel comfortable in joining us once barriers have been removed?) and then solutions identified--ideally with input from people with disabilities and other experts.

Not started | Getting started | Well on our way | We're there

4. PLANS. Invitation of people with disabilities to join the congregation as full members (including participation in rites of passage and initiation), action plans devised to achieve barrier-removing goals, and formal commitment made to welcome people with disabilities.

Not started | Getting started | Well on our way | We're there

5. ACCOMMODATIONS. Accommodations made to improve the participation of people with disabilities (e.g. large print bulletins, trained ushers, accessible parking spaces, ramps and pew cuts, improved lighting and sound systems, appropriate religious education for children with disabilities).

Not started | Getting started | Well on our way | We're there

6. WELCOMING ENVIRONMENT. Appreciation expressed for the changes being made and friendships extended to people with disabilities and their family members by increasing numbers within the congregation.

Not started | Getting started | Well on our way | We're there

7. HURDLES. Identification of architectural (e.g., elevator, accessible restroom, ramp to the altar, chancel or bimah), communications (e.g., sign language interpreter or alternative formats for materials), transportation (e.g., wheelchair accessible van), financial, or other barriers and ways found to move forward in spite of them.

Not started | Getting started | Well on our way | We're there

8. INCLUSION. Increased participation of people with disabilities in worship, study, service and leadership, as well as increased comfort levels of members with a more diverse congregation.

Not started | Getting started | Well on our way | We're there

9. OUTREACH. (Local) Options explored and action plans formulated for partnership opportunities with local agencies and organizations serving people with disabilities.

Not started | Getting started | Well on our way | We're there

10. LEADERSHIP. Recruitment of lay members with disabilities for leadership roles within the congregation and a willingness demonstrated to accept and accommodate an ordained leader with disability.

Not started | Getting started | Well on our way | We're there

11. NEW CONSCIOUSNESS. Resistant barriers of attitude within the congregation toward people with disabilities addressed (e.g., through adult education forums, consciousness raising by the leadership of the congregation and one-on-one friendships).

Not started | Getting started | Well on our way | We're there

12. TRANSFORMATION. Ongoing transformation of the congregation (through enriched opportunities, responsibilities, and friendships) into a place where children and adults with disabilities are welcomed, fully included and treated with respect.

Not started | Getting started | Well on our way | We're there

13. ADVOCACY. (External) An expanded advocacy role for congregation members regarding the needs and rights of persons with disabilities in the community-at-large.

Not started | Getting started | Well on our way | We're there

14. OUTREACH. Successful strategies, insights, and effective practices compiled and shared with other congregations and communities.

Not started | Getting started | Well on our way | We're there

15. SHARING THE STORY. The story of the transformation of the congregation publicized through articles, presentations, and/or media events.

Not started | Getting started | Well on our way | We're there

SCORING: Invite several within your congregation to take this test, including persons with disabilities. Compare your individual assessments and group findings, then set a course for action.

Source: National Organization on Disability's Accessible Congregations Campaign

Learn more at nod.org.