JPANet January 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. Erica Poellot, minister of harm reduction and overdose prevention ministries for the United Church of Christ, explains overdose prevention centers, and what lessons we might learn for a more faithful response to overdose.
Overdose Prevention Centers Show Us How to End the Overdose Crisis
In 2023, the overdose death rate rose to over 112,000 people, the highest rate ever recorded during a twelve-month period (Centers for Disease Control). During a similar time period, the nation’s first sanctioned overdose prevention centers in New York, OnPoint NYC, completed their first year of operation. A report detailing OnPoint’s findings during this inaugural year offers much wisdom and hope for how our country and our congregations can put an end to the devastating tide of overdose fatalities. Read more.
Justice In Action
Pathways toward Love of Church for Children and Youth
Love is a verb that encompasses direct action towards loving, educating, and making sure all God’s children and youth are represented in Church and society. When there is an overwhelming lack of diverse racial and ethnic representation in Bibles, artwork, stained glass images, and VBS lessons, we deny our children and youth a truthful depiction of the Kindom of God. Here are important resources for developing the next generation of children and youth as leaders within the Christian Church, Anti-racist formation of children and youth and Church in Color: Youth Ministry, Race, and the Theology of Martin Luther King, Jr.
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 for faith communities, this series will offer a daily calendar of prompts for deeper consideration, spiritual practice to nourish your soul and concrete actions to take 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 3:30pmET as part of the UCC’s Nurture the Soul Series. Lent materials available here February 1.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month
Human trafficking, or trafficking in persons, is one of the world’s largest organized criminal enterprises. Millions are held against their will for slave labor and/or sex work, including tens of thousands in the US. Learn more and find suggestions for learning and advocacy here. And join us in taking action this month; tell your member of Congress to support the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2023.
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.
New release: Psalms from Prison (3rd Edition)
For those doing work on racial justice and criminal justice reform needing some inspiration to carry into the new year, The Pilgrim Press presents Psalms from Prison (3rd Edition). For the first time, Wilmington Ten activist Benjamin Chavis, Jr., shares his autobiographical reflections on his unjust imprisonment. In this third edition, readers will gain insight into the ongoing struggle for equal rights, while also witnessing Chavis’ faith journey from freedom fighter to theologian. Psalms from Prison (3rd Edition) is available for pre-order now and releases in February.
2024 UCC Programs, Resources, and Events
A new UCC resource page looks ahead to a number of opportunities for advancing climate justice ministries in the coming year. Learn about the Vote for Climate Hope Art Contest for children and youth, the UCC Earth Summit featuring Bill McKibben, and a range of initiatives and campaigns. Read about it now!
Observe Health and Human Service Sunday
This year’s Health and Human Service Sunday is January 28, 2024 (or whatever Sunday works best for your congregation)! The Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM) is offering worship resources on their website, composed by the Rev. Dr. Elyse Berry. Take a look and think about honoring Health and Human Service Sunday in your congregation!
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, are bringing an essential reproductive justice conversation into the spotlight! Scholar and author Rev. Dr. Rebecca Todd Peters will speak live on Saturday, February 11 from 2 to 4pm CT (3 to 5 pm ET) about progressive Christianity and reproductive justice. Register now for this FREE online event!
Honoring MLK through Deepening Antiracism Practices: Concluding Celebration of JTM’s All Church Read
As we approach the annual commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and work, as well as the two-year anniversary of the launch of this UCC antiracism initiative, Join the Movement extends an invitation to join us for a concluding celebration of the work we have done with our All Church Read – How to Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. The celebration will take place on Wednesday, January 17 at 5pm ET. Come to share insights from you and your community and to hear how others are putting their racial justice dreams into practice. And hear from Join the Movement’s resident historian, Dr. Renee K. Harrison about her journey with the book, as well as insights from Join the Movement Lead, Rev. Dr. Velda Love. Register here to attend!
Emergency Summit for Gaza: Ceasefire, Saving Lives, Building Peace
Faith leaders, civil and human rights advocates, and all united in this moment of moral reckoning to affirm the sanctity of all human life, will gather for a two day Emergency Summit for Gaza in Chicago on January 12 and 13. The event will be streamed online, and you can register to attend in person or virtually on the event page. Organizers will call on the Biden Administration and Congress to act for justice and the preservation of Palestinian and Israeli lives.
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.
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.