JPANet February 2024 Newsletter
Happy new year advocates! Each month we ask UCC advocates to help us unpack the complex justice issues that we’re working on. This month, the Rev. Seth Wispelwey, UCC Minister for Economic Justice offers perspective on some of the recent approaches to pass legislation for the study and implementation of reparations.
Imagine Reparation Germination
When a tree is planted, establishing the “root ball” correctly is critical to long-term growth and thriving for the entire plant. And placement! Will it have enough sun? How will its growth impact the world around it? Most importantly, is the soil appropriate and nutritious? Without a healthy earthen home, whereby these amazing organisms can absorb the water, minerals, and food they need, it doesn’t matter what beauty and possibility we witness above ground. Inevitably, the tree will grow incorrectly, shrivel, rot, and die before its promised time.
The United States was planted in bad soil. The foundation was, and is, toxic. Read more.
Justice In Action
Asylum is Not a Bargaining Chip
The United Church of Christ recently joined over 375 faith leaders and organizations in sending a letter to Congress and the Administration urging legislators to reject the extreme, anti-immigrant proposals being considered as part of a supplemental aid package.
In addition to the letter, UCC staff and members have been showing up in Washington D.C. and throughout the country at rallies in support of those seeking asylum. “Asylum is a human right, not a political bargaining chip,” said the Rev. Noel Andersen. Read more in the recent story from UCC News.
Join the UCC to Power the Polls
To help encourage election engagement, and to ensure voting happens smoothly in 2024 elections, the United Church of Christ Our Faith Our Vote Campaign is thrilled to continue our partnership with Power the Polls! Poll workers enable the nonpartisan process of our democracy, keep polling locations open and technology working, and help make every voter’s experience a positive and empowering one. Will you consider signing up to be a poll worker today? For more helpful resources on election engagement, please visit the Our Faith Our Vote website.
Join the Movement “Woke” Lent Series
This Lent, Join the Movement is launching a daily reflection and practice series in conversation with Curtiss DeYoung’s new book The Risk of Being Woke: Sermonic Reflections for Activist. The book offers glimpses into the movement arising in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis and offers spiritual nourishment through biblical reflection to those facing the risks of joining this rising up journey. Our Lent series will help you make connections between your own racial justice work, the Movement for Black Lives, and the current context of struggle and activism for Palestine. In addition to a book discussion guide, this series will offer a daily calendar of prompts for deeper consideration, spiritual practice to nourish your soul and concrete actions for new life. Join us for these wilderness wanderings “From Minneapolis to Palestine: Nourishing the Rising Up Journey!” And come to a webinar with the author Rev. Dr. Curtiss DeYoung on Thursday, February 8 at 3:30pm ET. Lent materials available here.
Celebrate Black Stories
Expand your knowledge of Black history and deepen your commitment to antiracism, with these books from The Pilgrim Press:
- Psalms from Prison (3rd Edition): The Wilmington Ten activist Benjamin Chavis, Jr. shares his experience of unjust imprisonment and the struggle for civil rights.
- Hollywatts: Journalist Art Cribbs, Jr. tells his family’s story of the Great Migration and the racism that undermined their American dream in Los Angeles County.
- Afro-Christian Convention: The Fifth Stream of The United Church of Christ: Edited by Yvonne Delk, the history of the Afro-Christian Convention takes its rightful place in the canon of United Church of Christ history.
- Amistad: The Slave Uprising Aboard the Spanish Schooner: Helen Kromer portrays the dignity and agony of revolt during the Transatlantic slave trade, and the cry for freedom that can still be heard today.
Climate Hope Summer Fellowship Grants
Grants of $2,500 are given to UCC churches, conferences, and associations as well as UCC-affiliated theological schools and non-profit organizations for the purposes of developing and furthering the work of youth and young adult leaders in the movement for climate justice. Grant applications are due March 1st.
Fill the J.A.R. of God’s Economic Justice: A message from the new UCC economic justice minister, Rev. Seth Wispelwey
Greetings! I began as the UCC’s new minister for economic justice a few months ago. I wanted to introduce myself to you, and give a teaser for what I am excited about in the months ahead. Going forward, economic justice offerings and opportunities will be gathered under an umbrella I’m calling “Fill the J.A.R.,” wherein discipleship, campaigns, and action that churches and individuals undertake make manifest the economic dreams of God for Jubilee, Abundance, and Reparations. I love working collaboratively, and am eager to plumb the intersections of our collective liberation work with my colleagues and the church entire.
I can’t wait to connect more deeply with so many of you and your churches! If you’d like to touch base/collaborate, please reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UCC Webinar—Black History: Unsung Heroes of the Environmental Justice Movement
For Black History Month, the UCC will be celebrating past environmental justice leaders. To fully appreciate their impact and legacy, we will hear from movement leaders who knew them: Robert Bullard, Vernice Miller-Travis, and Peggy Shepard. Even if you cannot make the webinar at its scheduled time on February 14th at 1 pm ET, still sign-up, and we will send you a link to a recording of it. Register now!
Changing the Conversation: The Theology of Reproductive Justice
The UCC National Ministries’ Women’s and Gender Justice Ministry, in conjunction with Friends Congregational UCC in College Station, Texas, present Changing the Conversation – the Theology of Reproductive Justice. Scholar and author Rev. Dr. Rebecca Todd Peters will speak live on Saturday, February 11 (2-4 pm CST) about progressive Christianity, ethics, and reproductive justice. A recording will be made available through Engendering Spirit on Frontline Faith. Register for this FREE online event here.
Contact Minister for Women’s and Gender Justice Dr. Sherry Warren with questions.
Racial Justice Sunday: Blessing Banned Books
In a time of intense political polarization, we are facing an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books. Books by authors of color, by LGBTQ+ authors, by women and books about racism, sexuality, gender, history are the ones most often targeted by bans. When people seek to police access to some experiences, some histories, some understandings, some ideas, the image of God is dimmed. We believe that banned books have a particular calling in our faith communities: to help expand and enliven the image of God and empower us to reckon with truths that demand our loving accountability. The Love is Louder Campaign and Join the Movement toward Racial Justice join together to invite us to bless banned books, so that they might live out their calling and empower us to continue becoming God’s kindom of justice and love, on earth as it is in heaven. Learn more.
Save the Date for Ecumenical Advocacy Days
Save the date for this year’s Ecumenical Advocacy Days summit: May 17 to 19, 2024. The theme this year is, “Faith in Action: Advancing Human Rights & Peace for All.” The website is currently being updated, more information to come soon! Learn more.
The Dollie Burwell Prophetic Action Award
This award is given at the annual UCC Earth Summit to congregations, ministerial teams, or other groups in the UCC who have exemplified the tradition of prophetic action by publicly challenging the corporate and governmental institutions responsible for environmental injustices. The application deadline for this award is April 9, 2024.
The UCC’s Vote for Climate Hope Art Contest
To give our children and youth a voice this election season, while also reminding adults of their responsibility for the next generation, the UCC will be conducting a Vote for Climate Hope Art Contest in 2024. From March 1st to April 16th, art submissions will be accepted. Participating churches should register now to receive important information and updates.
DC Action Center
Each week, the D.C. Office creates an action alert based on what is happening at that time in Congress, and offers you the opportunity to contact your legislators with just one click! You can find all the alerts here.
The Pollinator is a digital platform of the UCC for the sharing of ideas and inspiration. Its focus is the building of a faith-filled and faith-rooted movement for the care of creation
Witness for Justice
Looking for up-to-date social justice commentary? Check out Witness for Justice, a weekly editorial opinion column written by the staff of Justice and Witness Ministries.