Getting to the Root of It

Getting to the Root of itAs part of our monthly Justice and Peace Action Network newsletter, we asked members of our staff to help us unpack the complex justice issues that we’re working on. Using our General Synod pronouncements as the basis for these reflections, we hope to provide insights into the issues you care about that are rooted in our shared faith, and can inform your advocacy efforts.

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Listen to Women. Follow their lead.

Rev. Loey PowellWhen she left the well after her encounter with Jesus, the Samaritan woman with a somewhat compromising history had been given living water and new life. She returned to her community to testify to what she had witnessed and who she believed she had met. Her neighbors, all Samaritans, went to see for themselves.  They, too, were convinced that Jesus was the foretold Messiah.

We know how Jesus broke down barriers of cultural, social and religious tradition and how he turned over not only the tables in the temple but also homegrown tables which assigned to women specific and subservient roles. The Samaritan woman was at first shocked that Jesus had even asked her for a drink water since Jews were not supposed to interact with Samaritans.  And then she was stunned that he saw right through her and still offered to her the word and grace of God.  Time and time again, Jesus approached women with respect, annoying his male disciples who thought they were all that and more, and disrupted preconceived notions of who women were supposed to be. (Read more.)

Heal the ACA’s wounds -- Don’t Kill It

Jason-Carson-Wilson-photobyMartinMcKinney2.jpgDuring his time on earth, Jesus healed many people. Our sacred text and theology celebrates healing of body and spirit. Sacred text and theology also compel us to love our siblings as ourselves.

Therefore, supporting the sensible revision of the Affordable Care Act rather than repeal is both a moral and practical issue. Leaving 20 million people without health insurance coverage is no way to treat those siblings. With that said, keeping it in place for them also benefits us. (Read more.)

Racial Justice Minister joins staff in Cleveland, OH

velda_Love.jpegJustice and Witness Ministry is pleased to welcome and announce to our staff team, The Rev. Dr. Velda R. Love as Minister for Racial Justice. Rev. Dr. Love began her ministry with us February 1, 2017. Located in the Cleveland, OH office, Velda brings with her a wealth of knowledge to the United Church of Christ. She has decades of experience in critical race theory, leadership development, community outreach, workshop facilitation, preaching, teaching, and writing. (Read more.)

The Time is Now – Seven Ways to Jump-Start Your Advocacy in 2017

do_whats_right.png“The time is always right to do what is right.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

The words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoken decades ago, are as true today as they ever were.  Moving into a new year, one that holds tremendous challenges and opportunities, your faithful advocacy is now more important than ever. 

We are here to partner with you – to support you, struggle with you, celebrate with you and share your story as we work for justice and peace in 2017 and beyond. 

Ready to get to it? Here are seven ideas to jump-start your advocacy in 2017.

Strengthen the Movement in 2017!

NYE-2016-Our_voices_are_strongest_when_we_lift_them_together!.pngThank you for your faithful advocacy in 2016. The past year was an eventful one. Even as Congress was mired in partisanship and gridlock, thanks to your dedication, a prophetic voice for justice rang out strong throughout the year.

Help us grown the movement in 2017.

Christmas Comes Anyway

Traci1.jpegAs we near the end of this Advent Season and turn our hearts and minds toward Christmas, I am mindful of the circumstances of Christ's birth and the relevance of that birth today. I am mindful of Jesus being born on the wrong side of the tracks in Bethlehem of Judea, an area we now know as Palestine. I am mindful that the birth of Jesus was not met with the elaborate grandeur of our celebrations today, but rather, Jesus was born as the son of a young woman whose pregnancy was unplanned and whose birth was so ethnically profiled by the governing forces of his day that his parents were forced to seek political asylum. (Read more.)

Getting to the Root of HIV

Mike_S.jpgA glimmer of light dimly beams at the end of the tunnel of the HIV epidemic as World AIDS Day observations take place in 2016, but there is no guarantee we will ever reach it. Many have characterized the potential of this moment as a tipping point, because depending on the response we make now it could go either way. That’s why it is important to get to the root of HIV – understanding where we are in the epidemic, exploring the role of faith communities and strategically engaging to take full advantage of this moment to stop AIDS and end the HIV epidemic as a public health threat by 2030. (Read more.)

After the Election: What’s Next?

Sandy_Sorensen_B_W_headshot.jpgNovember 2016. The 2016 election cycle has stirred heated rhetoric and passion, exposed sharp divides, and reopened painful wounds for many communities. Could this post-election time be an opportunity to share stories and heal our nation in a real way; to move polite, “watered-down civility” and begin the process of reweaving the threads of our common life? Sandy Sorensen, Director of our UCC Washington Office, argues that people of faith have precisely the skills we need to move our nation forward after Election Day.

Called to Build Bridges Not Walls: UCC Joins School of Americas Watch Border Convergence

noel-andersen-wh.jpegOctober 2016. This month Rev. Noel Andersen, a pastor and Immigration organizer with the United Church of Christ and Church World Service, explores the upcoming Border Convergence where advocates will work to address the root causes of migration, extreme violence in Central America, the militarization of border, and the problem of and unjust U.S. immigration system that continues to separate families.

Voting Matters: Hear three reasons why and find out what you can do

jessie-palatucci.jpgIn 2008, six million Americans didn’t vote because they missed a registration deadline or didn’t know how to register. Six-million. Literally millions of people – individuals who have the right to have their voices heard and whose unique experiences we need reflected in our democracy - found they were without a voice at the polls because they didn’t know the rules of the game.

This is unacceptable. (Read more.)

#DalitsNotCows #MuslimsNotCows: The struggle for equality & just peace in India

August 2016. This month Roy Komanapalli, a seminarian at Princeton Theological Seminary and Intern in our UCC Washington Office, discusses how the poor and oppressed in India are using protest and civil disobedience as tools of resistance. He invites us to learn about the Dalit struggle and think about how you might celebrate the UCC’s peacemaking history on Just Peace Sunday.

The Dehumanization & Demoralization of Black Lives

Jason-Carson-Wilson-photobyMartinMcKinney2.jpgWe celebrate a black man’s resurrection every Easter.  A Roman supremacist society crucified Jesus based on trumped up charges. His cross became his lynching tree. But, Jesus arose.

No one will witness Alton Sterling and Philando Castile’s resurrections. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Rekia Boyd, Sandra Bland and Eric Garner, among others, have no more earthly tomorrows.

The Creator sees us all as children. But, some of our siblings don’t claim us. They see dark skin, but they don’t see our humanity. (Read more.)

Time to Sign a Korea Peace Treaty

derek-200px.jpgJuly 2016. This month Derek Duncan, Associate for Global Advocacy and Education for our Global Ministries (Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ), discusses how we can achieve real and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.  He reminds us that recent reversals in U.S. policy on Cuba and Iran demonstrate that transformations of long-entrenched adversarial relationships are possible. Finally, he calls on the U.S. to use its power to finally replace the Korean War Armistice Agreement with a formal peace treaty. Read more.

Let us do more than pray about Mass Incarceration

quan-wililams.jpgJune 2016. This month Quan Williams, UCC Policy Advocate for Domestic Issues, tackles the issue of mass incarceration. She explores why people of faith should care about our criminal justice system, why we must do more than simply pray, and urges us to action by reminding us, "We are called to treat those in prison as though we ourselves are in prison – to treat those being tortured as if we ourselves are being tortured." Learn more and join the UCC in our Faith Beyond Bars campaign.

May Flowers… and November Elections

May 2016. This month Sandy Sorensen, Director of the UCC Washington Office, talks elections – How people of faith can engage, why our voices are needed, and what you and your congregation can do to make sure that everyone in your community is empowered to exercise their right to vote.

Would Jesus Give Up on Us?

April 2016. With Earth Day approaching, Rev. Brooks Berndt looks at our faith call to care for our neighbors and asks how that extends to our commitment to caring for the world in which we live. He urges us toward hope and action as the UCC embarks on it's campaign to limit the devastation wrought be fossil fuel extraction and join the call to "Keep it in the Ground!" 

Women Have a Lot Riding on this Election

Loey-powell-wfj.jpgMarch 2016. This month Rev. Loey Powell, Executive Associate to the President of the UCC's Council for Health and Human Service Ministries and past UCC Minister for Justice for Women, writes about the ways in which this election could impact women. She reminds us that this election season is not just about the presidential race but also state races for the national Congress, state legislatures, and local councils, and that all of the issues that impact the quality of women’s lives have local ramifications.

Welcoming New UCC Justice Leaders

traci-and-quan.jpgWith the start of 2016 we have welcomed two new leaders to our UCC Justice & Witness Ministries Team. It is our great pleasure to introduce you to the Rev. Traci D. Blackmon as acting Executive Minister and Quan Williams as our UCC Advocate for Domestic Policy.

Flint’s Water Crisis: A Story of Racial Injustice

Brooks-Berndt.jpgThis month, Rev. Brooks Berndt reflects on the water crisis in Flint, reminding us that in many ways the city's story bears out the truth of a statement Manning Marable once made: In order for American democracy finally to become a reality for all of its citizens, we must, first, understand historically how and why these deep structures of racial inequality came into being, and how they were most decisively expressed in the daily lives and life chances of minorities and whites alike.

Strengthen the Movement in 2016!

There are great possibilities and challenges ahead for justice advocacy in 2016. As we begin a new year, will you help us strengthen the movement for justice?

Light DOES overcome darkness

Bentley_de_bardelaben.jpgDecember 2015. This month Rev. Bentley deBardelaben reflects on his hopes for this Advent season and the world. With a special note of thanks to the members of our Justice and Peace Action Network, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Veterans Day: Understanding Moral Injury

michael-neuroth.jpgNovember 2015. This month Rev. Michael Neuroth and Chaplain Stephen Boyd team up to explore how UCC congregations can extend an extravagant welcome to returning veterans.

This month President Obama announced that 5,500 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan through 2017. This announcement ensures that America’s longest war will drag on for even longer, compounding the already heavy burden borne by our military and their families. Many soldiers in Afghanistan have already served multiple tours of duty. We are only just starting to understand the impact these wars and multiple deployments have had on them as we welcome these veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan home each year. One thing we do know is that, for many veterans, the trauma of war pales in comparison to the challenges they face upon their return. As one veteran, Captain Tyler Boudreau, describes it, “War is the foyer to hell: coming home is hell.”


Ongoing Injustice: The Bureau of Indian Education

Sandy_Sorensen_2.jpgOctober 2015. This month Sandy Sorensen, Director of our Washington DC office, lifts up the disparities faced by Native communities particularly in the area of education and encourages us all to learn about these historic and ongoing injustices as we prepare to observe Native American Heritage Month.



Child Nutrition-Caring for the Most Vulnerable

September 2015. This month Kristen Walling, our Justice and Peace Fellow, reflects on our scriptural call to feed the hungry, the importance of federal feeding programs, and the looming deadline for Congress to reauthorize our child nutrition laws later this month.


Gratitude and New Beginnings: A Message from Rev. Linda Jaramillo

At the conclusion of the month, on the occasion of her tenth anniversary, Rev. Linda Jaramillo will retire as Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries and Officer of the Church. Here she shares her reflections on her time as a leader within our denomination, her plans for the future, and expresses her gratitude for the opportunity to serve along side the many dedicated justice advocates in the United Church of Christ.



Prophetic Vision & Social Policy at GS30

19281996301_8a4c3a3542_h.jpgAugust 2015. Throughout our history the social policy statements of our General Synod trace an outstanding record of courageous vision across the decades. General Synod 30, which took place in June, was no different. Here we’ve taken some time to briefly recap the newly passed resolutions that will guide our justice and advocacy work in the months and years to come.

Religious liberty: What are we REALLY talking about?

June 2015. This month Kristen Walling, our Justice and Peace Fellow, explores the concept of religious freedom and how it is being use (or misused) to erode legal protections for women and members of the LGBTQI community.


Trade agreements: A matter of conscience

Edith_Rasell.jpgMay 2015. This month Edie Rasell, UCC Minister for Economic Justice, looks at our international trade agreements, fast track legislation, and our faith call to allocate our collective resources responsibly and sustainably.

The President’s Request for Authorization for Use of Military Force

Derek DuncanApril 2015. This month Derek Duncan, Associate for Global Advocacy and Education for the Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, looks at impact and effects of long-term U.S. warfare in the Middle East, new challenges as we consider use of military force against ISIL, and our faith call to be peacemakers.





“When I was in prison….”: Our Faith and the Criminal Justice System

Sandy_Sorensen_2.jpgMarch 2015. This month Sandy Sorensen, Director of our UCC Washington Office, looks at our criminal justice system, our call to stand with those in prison, and the momentum building for change.



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