United Church of Christ

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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WWJB - What Would Jesus Budget?

palatucci-200px.jpgThis summer I marked my tenth year of working for the United Church of Christ’s Washington, DC office. If you had to guess, what would you imagine is the issue I have worked on most consistently in that decade?

Immigration? Health care? Justice for women?

It turns out, the issue that has most consumed my time is the federal budget. Trust me, I know how boring that sounds. But even if talk of fiscal matters doesn’t inspire you to run out the door and pick up a protest sign, it is vitally important work.

Here’s why - every one of the issues I care about is deeply impacted by the federal budget.

Jim Crow Statues and Rooting Out White Supremacy

Tracy-Howe-Wispelwey.jpegIn Charlottesville, VA there has been a comprehensive effort involving city officials, scholars, citizens and anti-racism activists to acknowledge that the Jim Crow era Confederate monuments placed in strategic areas across the city, served to establish and root the Lost Cause Narrative of the Confederacy and bolster white supremacy. (Read more.) 

Nothing short of amazing.

Nothing short of amazing. Early this morning the Senate rejected the latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I know that it was your prayers, actions and advocacy that made this possible. You demanded that your elected officials put our concern for our neighbors ahead of politics and they responded just in time.  This outcome is a testimony to the power of your voices and your stories. (Read more.)

Health Care Update: Stay Vigilant

Like the persistent widow in the Gospel of Luke you have gone back again and again to tell our elected officials that we will not leave our most vulnerable neighbors – the sick, the elderly, the working poor and those living with disabilities - behind.

We know that the work is not done.

General Synod 31: Justice Recap

The General Synod of the United Church of Christ is the national decision-making body for our denomination, responsible for giving general direction to the evangelistic, missionary, and justice programs of the UCC. From June 30 – July 4 members of our denomination gathered to consider a number of resolutions or statements of witness on social and political issues that we (members from throughout the life of the church) believe are of concern.

Here’s a brief recap, featuring coverage from United Church News, of some of the actions taken by the General Synod that relate to our work as justice advocates.

Destroyers or Healers? A look at American Drone Warfare

romee.jpeg“Lord I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word and my servant will be healed” - Matthew 8:5-13

During the Roman occupation, arguably no nation was more vile and threatening than the Romans who crucified thousands of innocent people for the sake of dominance. As a centurion in the Roman army the soldier in Matthew was directly responsible for reinforcing the idolatrous, oppressive, and murderous laws of the empire. By modern standards this centurion posed a clear and imminent threat to the Jewish people, but instead of calling in a heavenly strike against the centurion Jesus performed a distant healing. Such compassion from Jesus demonstrates that God’s policy is not that of a distant destroyer, but a distant healer. (Read more.)

The Cost of This Nightmare

Mary StaintonI am a 59-year-old woman with several disabilities. Like many people with disabilities, I also have other, “normal” medical issues for a woman of my age. (Read more.)

Will my child be uninsurable?

Rev. Gunnar CerdaSince the passage of the ACA, my son Benjamin has been included on my health care plan.  And while it hasn’t been perfect, he has had some coverage.  I slept a little better at night, knowing that no matter the future, Benjamin would have coverage through the age of 26, and when the time came to be independent, might find his own plan through an employer.

Yet now I feel anxious once again.  As if the constant struggles against ableism, educational inequality, and employment discrimination have not been enough, now health care coverage is again in question. (Read more.)

Trump’s Budget & Our Call to Love Our Neighbors


As people of faith, we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Loving our neighbor means ensuring they have access to adequate healthcare when they are sick, food when they are hungry, and the supports they need at the most vulnerable moments of their lives. The Trump administration’s proposed federal budget takes these essential supports out of reach of many. That budget calls for drastic cuts to Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps), and so much more. (Read more.)

Prophetic Not Partisan

FaithVoices_Social.pngIn April, 99 faith groups told Congress they don’t want to change the law. Now Congress needs to hear from individual faith leaders, including ordained clergy, lay leaders, professors, or employees of faith-based nonprofits. Sign this letter, and let’s send a strong message to Congress that our sacred spaces must remain sacred.

Visit faith-voices.org to add your name to the growing list of faith leaders standing up for the integrity and independence of houses of worship.

Building Sanctuary For All... All of Us

The Rev. Julian DeShazier"Shouldn’t our sanctuaries offer this same kind of Sanctuary...to anyone? Wouldn’t we want this grace, and do we not call upon this kind of love every Sunday?"

Read more of Rev. Julian DeShazier's reflection on Immigrants Rights Sunday and intersectionality.

Confronting Racism, Extreme Materialism, and Militarism

velda_Love.jpegApril 4, 1967 commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech at Riverside Church in New York City. As I read the transcript and listened to “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” the words and phrases King spoke in 1967 bear striking similarities to what we continue to face in 2017. The persistent extremist rhetoric and legislative actions enacted in the first 100 days by the current president and his administration continue to echo King’s warning about the giant triplets Racism, Extreme Materialism, and Militarism. Read more.

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.