Written by Bennett Guess
With assistance from a full-page USA Today advertisement, the UCC is inviting the nation to join in a sacred conversation on race, beginning with a nationwide preach-in on May 18, which is Trinity Sunday.
"Sacred conversations are never easy," the ad proclaims, "especially when honest talk confronts our nation's painful past and speaks directly to the injustices of the present day. Yet sacred conversations can, and often do, honor the value of diverse life experiences, requiring an openness to hear each other's viewpoints."
The prominent ad placement comes a week after the Rev. John H. Thomas, general minister and president, joined a press conference at Trinity UCC in Chicago and called for such a dialogue to begin across the nation. Thomas was joined by the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, and the Rev. Otis Moss III, Trinity UCC's pastor.
On Sunday, May 18, many pastors across the UCC will be preaching on race in hopes of beginning the sacred conversation, "a dialogue that is needed in our pews, our homes and the hallways of power across our country," reads the USA Today ad.
The UCC is readying resource materials for its pastors, but in the meantime is collecting email addresses of persons who want to learn more about how to initiate a sacred conversation in their congregation or community. Join the UCC's "sacred conversations" email list.
The ad was paid for by the UCC's Tell Our Story Fund, which raised more than $230,000 in less than 10 days to enable the UCC to place two full-page ads, the first on April 2 in The New York Times, followed by the April 12 ad in USA Today.
The USA Today ad, though different in content from The New York Times ad, is part of the UCC's effort to ensure that the denomination is not caricatured in narrow and distorted ways in wake of heightened media interest.
Thomas said that May 18 is an opportunity for UCC pastors to preach collectively on the common theme of race, "but it's impossible for a sacred conversation on race to be a single-day event." Instead, Thomas said, pastors and lay leaders are encouraged to begin thinking how the coming months can be used to appropriately plan and organize for a long-term sacred conversation on race, perhaps through the summer and fall.