just peace newsletter march 2021

March 2021

Confronting White Supremacy in Our Time

The Trump presidency unleashed the forces of white supremacy in ways that took many by surprise.  How does a Just Peace Church take up the struggle to turn back race hatred? This 90 minute webinar will include input from Rev. Tracy Howe Wispelwey and Scot Nakagawa as well as time for participants to enter into dialogue with the presenters and one another.  Please join us at 4:00 pm (EST) on Sunday, March 28 for this important webinar sponsored by the UCC Just Peace Church Education and Witness Committee. Register for the webinar here.

2021 Multifaith Service Commemorates the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On January 18th the Coalition for Peace Action and the Princeton Clergy Association co-sponsored a multifaith reflection on the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This included a sermon from Rev. Dr. Charles Boyer, as well as music and messages from a variety of perspectives. A recording of the service is available here.

Indiana and Kentucky: A Just Peace Conference by Rev. Dr. Paul Jahn 

The Indiana Kentucky Conference, at our 1990 Annual Meeting, explored and voted to become a Just Peace Conference. That same meeting, we also joined a global partnership with a church in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was being rocked by a civil war. The Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India, our Sri Lankan Partner Church, asked us to be advocates in Washington DC for justice and peace in their country. his started us on a decades-long journey into the work of just peace around a violent conflict in Southern Asia. Though the civil war ended in 2009 our partnership continues as the Sri Lankan church engages in ministries of reconstruction and reconciliation.

The last two Annual Meetings of the Indiana Kentucky Conference chose Just Peace as our central theme. The conference decided we would look at the four focuses of Just Peace as laid out by the World Council of Churches: Peace in the Community, Peace in the Market Place, Peace with the Earth, Peace Among the People. We began by looking at Peace in the Neighborhood/Community in 2019. This year at our virtual Annual Meeting the theme was Peace in the Market Place. The conversation at these gatherings gave our members a better understanding as to how we might bring just peace practices to bear in each of our unique settings as our congregations struggle with the injustice and conflict.

The Indiana Kentucky Conference is in conversation with Eden Theological Seminary about creating an academic home to explore how congregations can use practices of Just Peace addressing both local and global issues of conflict in creative, constructive and reconciling ways.

A group from the Indiana Kentucky Conference was hosted by The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ of Sahuarita, Arizona in January of 2020 to witness migration conditions at the border.  This has led to another just peace partnership. Chad Abbott, the IKC Conference minister said, “The lesson learned in our partnerships is that troubling conflicts are complex. Their resolution requires more than mere desire for people to get along. It requires the slow hard work of building trusting and knowledgeable relationships”. Our congregations have done this in their communities. Learning and implementing just peace practices help us be more intentional in the ministries in which we’re engaged. This is sacred work that has seldom been more needed.

New Ark UCC, Delaware: Gender Neutral Bathrooms by Peggy Dillner (New Ark UCC Social Justice Chairperson)  

In the fall of 2019 during Delaware’s Peace Week the New Ark United Church of Christ co-sponsored (with the local UU congregation) a six-week webinar, “Transgender Inclusion in Congregations,” produced by Transforming Hearts Collective. That began a discussion about how to become more welcoming to transgender individuals aligning with our Open and Affirming Resolution. The top welcoming signal in all the materials by/about transgender individuals was the availability of gender neutral bathrooms. Moving into 2020 educational opportunities were presented to the congregation.

  • Various articles were presented in the church newsletter, both by congregants and previously published articles.
  • The Bible and the Transgender Experience by Rev. Linda Tatro Herzer was summarized in the newsletter and made available for borrowing.
  • A presentation was made at the spring quarterly congregational meeting (using information from transACTION by Barbara Satin) with breakout rooms for discussion of various scenarios.
  • In the summer a congregational survey with various options was issued and tabulated.
  • A hearing was held at the summer quarterly congregational meeting discussing various options, ending with a charge to the Facilities Committee to explore costs to create:
    •  additional privacy in the current women’s bathroom for two stalls by extending the partitions
    • Add partitions around the urinals in the current men’s bathroom
    • New signage.
  • Costs were shared at the fall quarterly congregational meeting.   It was decided to replace the partition around the toilet in the current men’s bathroom to match the new partitions to go around the urinals.  Thus, additional costs needed to be sought.
  • The Social Justice Committee prepared a motion brought to a special congregational meeting held in December where all changes were approved.

The New Ark UCC hopes transgender individuals will feel the welcome expressed in our O & A Resolution:

Open and Affirming Statement made by the

New Ark United Church of Christ

To All of God’s People:

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he writes, “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7) To exclude persons from the church and society because of sexual orientation or on any other basis withers away the Body of Christ. When one part of the body suffers, all others suffer with it (I Corinthians 12:26). Instead, we vow to do all within our power to promote justice and healing through our commitment to being an Open and Affirming Congregation.  As people of faith and followers of the Word, therefore, we invite all God’s children to the table of God’s abundant blessing.  We welcome into our community persons of every gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, ability, age, race, nationality, economic and social status, faith background, religious training, marital standing and family structure.  We welcome any person who joins us through the same affirmations of faith and encourage them to share in the life, leadership, ministry, fellowship, worship, sacraments, responsibilities, blessings and joys of our church family.  In return, we offer our love and support, no matter where you are in your faith and life journey.

Open and affirming statement first adopted in January, 1990.

Open and affirming statement revised and reaffirmed on May 1, 2011

Share your stories of how you and your congregations or ministry settings are living out the mission of being a Just Peace Church. Submit to the newsletter by emailing uccjustpeace@gmail.com