Synod delegates call on congregations to declare and create ‘white supremacy free zones’
In a call to make their congregations “white supremacy free zones,” delegates to the 34th General Synod of United Church of Christ also provided a road map to make that goal possible.
Delegates, meeting this week in Indianapolis, overwhelmingly passed a resolution titled, “Calling On United Church Of Christ Local Churches To Witness ‘A White Supremacy Free Zone’ and Confronting White Supremacy.” Through this resolution, Synod — which speaks to and not for local UCC congregations — called on all the denomination’s settings, including “local churches of predominantly European descent” to “confront the idolatry of white supremacy, in witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“Being white does not possess any inherent superiority,” the resolution states, “other than the superiority that is bestowed upon the concept by force, violence, laws, myths, institutions and ethos.”
In introducing the motion, Jeannie Hobson from the Northern California Nevada Conference and chair of the committee which considered the action, acknowledged that “dismantling white supremacy will take a while. But the journey needs to start now.”
To help local churches get started, delegates encouraged the use of a study guide created by the Potomac Association of the Central Atlantic Conference. This guide, “Journey Towards Confronting White Supremacy and Creating a White Supremacy Free Zone Local Congregation,” uses a “states of change” model. It assists churches to engage in self-reflection, education, and transformation. It can be accessed here.
“It will be difficult, and it will be painful,” Hobson added, “but it needs to begin now.” Most delegates agreed, with more than 95% in favor of the resolution.
The resolution recognizes the varying starting points of individual churches and encourages each congregation to begin the process of change wherever they currently stand. This approach acknowledges that the journey towards becoming a “white supremacy free zone” will differ from church to church, but reinforces the shared goal of achieving racial justice for all.
In addition, local churches, particularly those of predominantly European descent, are urged to publicly declare, “We are confronting white supremacy.” By making this public statement, supporters say that congregations can help create awareness, accountability and a united front against the roots of white supremacy.
Previous General Synods have also addressed various aspects of racism, including as recently as 2019 with the Synod resolution “denouncing acts of violence, hatred and racism carried out in the name of neo-Nazi and white supremist ideologies.”
Tim Kershner is a General Synod newsroom volunteer from Campton, N.H., in the New Hampshire Conference.
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