Join the Movement Toward Racial Justice debuts at GS 33
The bold new campaign was introduced in plenary Friday afternoon by the associate general minister and minister for racial justice. It encourages churches and congregants to build on the UCC’s history and legacy of racial justice work, showcased in a video presentation outlining the initiative.
A movement often begins with a simple step. The Revs. Traci Blackmon and Velda Love urged Synod goers to take that step — to step out in faith — and Join the Movement Toward Racial Justice.
“Racial justice and anti-racism work is foundational to the mission, vision and purpose of the United Church of Christ,” said Love. “The UCC promotes and believes in ‘Justice for All.’ It is intersectional and intentionally inclusive.”
Church’s mixed legacy
The pair acknowledged white supremacy in our history, with “the complicity of our ancestors in the ethnic cleansing and colonization of indigenous people” and how “early attempts of many to worship God were defiled by the sin of slavery.” They also underscored the work of the early church where “the seeds of repentance and justice were also sown in our past.”
“The United and Uniting Church of Christ rose from denominational roots infused with the understanding of abolition as holy work,” said Blackmon. In a timeline that spanned three centuries, from the 1700’s until current times, they documented ways the UCC has been present at the intersections of race and injustice.
“The United Church of Christ is committed to the theological and biblical mandate to do justice,” Love said. “We are a denomination that advocates for all people to live without threats and acts of violence including structural, systemic, and individuals who seek to do harm to God’s human creation.
Stories and best practices
Previous General Synods have voted 12 resolutions denouncing racism, the advocacy of the national setting ministries is guided by them, and many churches are already immersed in anti-racism work.
Join the Movement is slated to build on that foundation – and on Sacred Conversations to End Racism, and beginning dialogues around reparatory justice — through the sharing of stories, insights and best practices as one church.
“A just world for all begins with justice — understanding one another and being in just relationships that are an extension of how we love and value ourselves, and then extending justice to others as valuable companions on life’s journey,” Love said. As the UCC Minister for Racial Justice, she will be leading the campaign and the effort to create the curriculum and the resources to support it.
The Join the Movement Towards Racial Justice campaign web page will carry the stories of church leaders, congregations, members and partners. “The stories will represent cultural expressions, lived experiences, and local advocacy and activism across the country,” Love said. “We hope to capture and develop stories regarding worship experiences focused on racial justice.”
‘Grounded in justice’
In addition to curating and sharing stories, Join the Movement plans monthly highlights of churches engaged in the work, information on local and national policies that create or promote injustice, and regular updates on the United Church of Christ Board’s ongoing Racial Justice Assessment of the national setting. Justice and Local Church Ministries recently held a webinar to introduce Culture Brokers, the firm working with the national setting on that audit.
“Our stories formed by faith are integral for the continued growth of the Christian church nationally and globally,” Love said. “The foundation of our faith is rooted in the God of creation. Your stories will inspire others and people will know that we are Christians rooted in love — living out loud toward a Just World for All.
“When you Join the Movement toward racial justice, stories from across the UCC become encouragement for church leaders and lay persons, as well as the next generation to carry on the work of justice — advocacy and activism.
“Together we commit to developing practices that are grounded in justice within our congregations, communities, legislation, relationships and beyond,” she continued. “When love becomes the lens through which we see the world, justice is possible.”
Register today to Join the Movement Towards Racial Justice: #YourStoriesMatter
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