Applicants with racial-justice background sought for new committee

The United Church of Christ is seeking people who have worked in the area of racial justice to apply for a new ad hoc committee.

It’s the next step in a racial justice and equity assessment led by the United Church of Christ Board. The UCCB announced this latest step in a March 1 statement. It was signed by the Rev. Traci Blackmon, associate general minister for Justice and Witness Ministries, and Yvette-Michelle Wynn, UCCB chair.

Already the UCCB:

  • Announced the assessment in a letter to the church on Sept. 1, 2020.
  • Invited consulting firms to reply to a request for proposals.
  • Received eight such proposals by an Oct. 31 deadline.
  • Appointed 11 UCC leaders to a committee to review those proposals and recommend one firm to the UCCB. The UCCB plans to announce its choice in July, during General Synod.

How to apply

Now the UCCB “seeks to appoint a committee to liaise with this work and provide periodic updates to the UCCB,” according to the March 1 statement. How long the committee will serve isn’t yet known.

“While the change we seek to engage is ongoing, the tenure of this committee will be established by the UCCB in consultation with the consulting firm,” the statement said.

To apply, people will need a resume, a sample of their racial justice work and a referral from their UCC Conference, Association or congregation. The deadline to send these by email — to Denise Pittman, pittmand@ucc.org — is April 30.

Here is the full text of the statement:

United Church of Christ Board Seeks UCC Racial Justice Professionals for Committee on Racial Justice & Equity

March 1, 2021 

Send Resume and Racial Justice work example electronically by April 30, 2021, to:
Denise Pittman
Executive Assistant to Traci Blackmon
pittmand@ucc.org

The United Church of Christ Board (UCCB) accepted Requests for Proposals (RFP) last fall. A committee appointed by the UCCB chair, composed of esteemed thought leaders in this work, will recommend a finalist to the UCCB for approval. We anticipate an announcement of the successful consulting firm at General Synod. This represents the first phase of this on-going work. The UCCB seeks to appoint a committee to liaise with this work and provide periodic updates to the UCCB. The committee will be comprised of UCC board members; representatives of the national setting; Conferences; Racial Justice Ministers; and Congregational (Ministerial and Lay) Representation. 

This racial justice and equity work is expected to assist the UCC National Setting and UCCB in discerning any unseen and unattended barriers to full inclusion within the national setting and UCCB. In addition, the results of this process will guide our design and implementation of programs and services to address such barriers. We hope that this work will become a model for some ministries and a conversation partner with other ministries already engaged in such efforts. While the change we seek to engage is ongoing, the tenure of this committee will be established by the UCCB in consultation with the consulting firm.   

Applicants shall supply a referral from their conference, association, or congregation. 

The United Church of Christ (UCC), a denomination of 36 Conferences divided into 7 regions and about 5,000 Local Churches that span the U.S., was founded 63 years ago. UCC currently has a staff of 115 (approximately 1/3 of its size when the National Setting relocated from New York City to Cleveland 30 years ago). The National Setting of the UCC is governed by the UCCB, which is comprised of representation across the breadth of the denomination. The National Setting works collaboratively with Local Churches but not prescriptively. Members of the United Church of Christ are 89% white. Larger congregations (more than 50 people on a Sunday) are commonly urban or suburban and consist predominantly of college-educated people with few in attendance in their 20s or early 30s. In this context, with the exception of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color congregations, a very racially diverse congregation would be 10% non-white. Both the UCCB and National Setting are racially diverse. Nevertheless, we still are a denomination of predominantly white ministers and congregations, and non-white enculturation remains challenging. Our long-term vision is UCC congregations throughout the U.S. which by and large mirror the changing demographics of society in areas where such representation is possible, and the permeation of an antiracist ethos even in congregations that remain racially homogenous. Although race is the focus of this assessment, the methodology will be applied to other areas of inclusiveness as well.

Goals for Our Racial Equity Assessment

  1. Building institutional capacity around seeing and overcoming structural racism. The UCC wants to acquire the skills to continue this work without the help of outside consultants. 
  2. Identifying any barriers to full participation in the UCC with the national setting in policy or praxis.
  3. Providing clear sense of next steps – both content and direction. The UCCB and national setting want clear goals that we can hold ourselves accountable to in the next 1 to 3 years.
  4. Work with Conferences and churches engaged in similar work to develop best practices that can be shared widely. The UCC wants to develop a vision for inclusion that is broadly owned by staff, governance, and our member bodies. 

We dream that the Assessment and the resulting work undertaken by the national setting is informative and inspirational. Although the focus of the Assessment is on the UCCB and national setting, again we hope that it will provide a model with targeted and useable ideas for change in our congregations.  

Yours in Christ, 

The Rev. Traci Blackmon
Associate General Minister, Justice and Witness and Local Church Ministries 
Yvette-Michelle Wynn
United Church of Christ Board -- Chair
CC:
The Rev. John Dorhauer 
General Minister and President 
The Rev. Cameron Barr
United Church of Christ Board -- Vice Chair 
Categories: United Church of Christ News

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