Justice and Grace: A historic panel of UCC leaders share sacred stories at the CHHSM Annual Gathering
Hope, grace, and justice. These three words wound throughout an historic panel discussion by four UCC women leaders in justice advocacy March 4 at the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries' Annual Gathering in Memphis.Read more
UCC Conference Ministers Mobilizing on Immigration | September 2019
Justice and Witness Ministries welcomed 22 Conference Ministers from across the United Church of Christ for days of advocacy and action in Washington D.C. The group dedicated three days, Sept. 24- 26, joining staff members from the UCC D.C. office in advocating around the topic of immigration. Conference Ministers attended over 40 visits to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The United Church of Christ is an Immigrant Welcoming Church, honoring the profound struggles migrants who come to the United States face in search of security and opportunity, and celebrating the myriad contributions migrants offer to our communities. Conference Ministers meeting with legislators have asked them to cease funding for detention, deportation, and border militarization.
Support the work of your Conference Ministers by writing to you legislators using our Action Alert here.
We asked our congregations to send us stories of how they have personally felt the impact of changes in legislation around immigration. Read the powerful stories that have been shared with us so far.
Marriott Marquis, Washington, DC
#uscafaith | #usca2019 | #aidsfaith
Thanks to everyone who made the 2019 USCA Faith Pre-Conference a success!
Jesse Milan, Jr., President and CEO of AIDS United, was part of a great line-up of leaders who presented at the 2019 USCA Faith Pre-Conference. The focus of the conference was the role of faith in attaining and fast-tracking the goals for 2020 and ending the epidemic as a public health threat globally by 2030. The conference included a variety of faith leaders, panels discussions, examples of work being done in the faith community. Participants heard from presenters, engaged in discussions and networked with colleagues working in and with faith communities in the HIV response.
8.30am Registration/Check-in with Breakfast breads and Coffee/Tea Service
9.00am Morning Sessions:
Welcome and Opening Remarks
Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer, Chair, USCA Faith Coalition and
Executive Director, United Church of Christ HIV & AIDS Network, Cleveland, OH
Centering Reflection: Rev. Edwin C. Sanders, II
Dr. Ulysses Burley III, UBtheCure, Chicago, IL
Stigma Index Report
Dr. Vanessa Johnson, Ribbon Consulting Group, Washington DC
Panel: My Lived Experience
Moderator: Cary Goodman, Balm in Gilead, Richmond, VA
Guided Small Groups and Lunch (provided)
1:00pm Afternoon Sessions:
Presentation: Faith on the Fast Track: HIV Campaign
Francesca Merico, Campaign Coordinator, WCC Ecumencal Advocacy Alliance, Geneva, Switzerland
Presentation: Framework for Dialogue, A tool for dialogue and joint action
Arthur Butler, National Coordinator, United Church of Christ, Cleveland OH
2:30pm Keynote and discussion
Jesse Milan, Jr., JD
President and CEO, AIDS Untied, Washington, DC
3:30pm Panel: A Faith’s Response to HIV In Efforts to End the Epidemic
Moderator: Rev. Edwin C. Sanders II
Senior Servant, Metropolitan Interdenominational Church, Nashville, TN
Closing remarks: Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer
About the USCA Faith Pre-Conference
People of faith, faith leaders, people living with HIV and people working in the HIV and AIDS response gather for a one-day faith pre-conference in advance of the U.S. Conference on AIDS (USCA) to discuss and develop strategies to strengthen the capacity of houses of worship and faith-based organizations who are engaged, or wish to engage, in efforts to end the HIV epidemic.
Hyatt Regency, Orlando, Florida
#uscafaith2018 | #usca2018 | #aidsfaith2018
(coffee/tea and light refreshments will be served)
9.00am Session 1 - Opening Plenary
Moderator: Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer, United Church of Christ HIV & AIDS Network
- Welcome, Introductions and Acknowledgments
- Moderator’s Opening Remarks
- Centering Rituals Various Faith Leaders
- State of the Epidemic and the Faith Response Ulysses Burley, III & Wakefield
10.45am Session 2
Moderator: Cary Goodman, Balm In Gilead
Report from AIDS 2018, Megan Neubauer, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Panel Discussion: Engaging with lived experiences from the communities we serve
- Nick Calvin, Peer Health Navigator, Nashville Cares
- Dr. Joyce Turner Keller, Founder Aspirations
- Rev. Michael Crumpler, LGBTQ and Intercultural Programs Manager, Unitarian Universalist Association
12Noon Buffet Lunch with Facilitated Table Discussions
1.30 pm Session 3: Engaging the Role Faith Based Organizations in Ending the Epidemic
Introductions, Dr. Marjorie Innocent, Senior Director of Health Programs, NAACP
The Black Church & HIV: The Social Justice Imperative, Dr. Marjorie Innocent
Panel Discussion: Role of Faith-Based Organizations in Ending the Epidemic
Moderator: Bishop O.C. Allen – Presiding Bishop and founder of the United Progressive Pentecostal Fellowship of Church, Founder, The Vision Church of Atlanta
- John Faison – Senior Pastor of Watson Grove Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee
- Dazon Dixon – Founder and CEO, SisterLove, Inc.
Q&A: Advancing HIV as a Social Justice Imperative, Moderator: Bishop O.C. Allen
Small Group Discussion: Next Steps to Take Action
Report Back, Next Steps
Session’s Concluding Remarks, Dr. Marjorie Innocent
3.45 pm Break
4.00 pm Session 4: Taking action together, Moderator: Rev. Edwin Sanders
Keynote: Dr. Reuben C. Warren
Professor and Director, National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care, Tuskegee University
Discussion: Where do we go from here to end the epidemic?
5.00 pm Closing
- Acknowledgements, Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer
- Sending Blessings, Various Faith Leaders
The Faith Factor
Getting to Zero Discrimination and Disparities
2016 Faith Pre-Conference
U.S. Conference on AIDS (USCA)
September 14, The Diplomat Resort & Spa
9.00 am Session 1: The Faith Factor
- Centering Meditation and Theme Presentation: Rev. Edwin Sanders, II
- Keynote – Dr. Iva Carruthers
10.20am Break with Coffee/Tea Service
10.40am Session 2 – Panel: Getting to Zero Discrimination
- Moderator – Michael Schuenemeyer
- Stigma Index – Vanessa Johnson [PowerPoint Presentation]
- Stories from Community Members
- Marvin Shaw
- Ederick Johnson
12 Noon Sponsored Lunch w/program - HIV Prevention Science 2.0
- Moderator: Wakefield
- Presenter: Dr. Ulysses Burley [Power Point Presentation]
1.15 pm Break
1.30 pm Session 3: Getting to Zero Disparities
- Disparities in Health and Addressing the social determinants - Edwin Sanders
- Disparities in Sexuality Education - Mike Schuenemeyer [PowerPoint Presentation]
- What are the key 2-3 strategies for local response?
- Where are opportunities for collaboration?
- What infrastructure is needed to support this?
3.15 pm Break with Coffee/Tea Service, Light Refreshments
3.30 pm Session 4 – Afternoon Plenary: Where do we go from here? Getting to Zero Together
- Moderator: Wakefield
- Small Group Reports
- Response from Panel
- Ulysses Burley
- Marjorie Innocent
- Mike Schuenemeyer
- Report from the Rapporteurs
- Anthony Sullivan
- Cary Goodman
- Closing Ritual, Prayer or Meditation - Megan Neubauer
4:30 pm End Program
With 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.Read more
|Congressional web forms require that message fields match their own. Since no uniform standard exists and most offices do not include 'Rev.' as option, such messages would be rendered incomplete and non-deliverable.|
Many clergy express frustration — and rightly so — that the UCC's advocacy forms do not include religious titles, such "the Rev.", in drop-down menu options.
"The problem is not of our making, but rests solely with the requirements of the websites on the receiving end of our messages," explains the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, the UCC's communications director. "Most government offices require that salutation fields be completed — primarily to confirm a constituent's gender — but they often limit the available responses to a few choices, such as 'Mr.', 'Dr.', 'Miss' or 'Mrs.' Anything message that doesn't conform to required fields is rendered 'incomplete' and therefore 'non-deliverable.'"
When a person completes an online advocacy form at ucc.org, Guess says, the email message is delivered in the same way as if the constituent had completed the web form directly on that Congressperson's website. Therefore, the UCC's website hosting company — Convio — has no other option but to configure its clients' prefix titles so that messages will be received by every members of Congress. If the UCC was to include 'the Rev.' as a salutation choice, Guess says, any emails submitted to office webforms that didn't also have "the Rev." as a prefix option would bounce back to the UCC.
"Ironically," Guess says, "members of Congress say they want to hear from religious leaders, but they don't provide a mechanism for clergy to identify themselves as such."
That's why Guess encourages users to alter the suggested email text so that it accurately describes a person's religious affiliation and viewpoints.
United Church of Christ leaders on Thursday (Feb. 12) expressed outrage at the perceived discriminatory treatment of a local UCC pastor by the Oklahoma State House of Representatives.
In what legislators are calling a first, one-fifth of the Oklahoma House voted Feb. 11 to strike from the record a prayer offered on the chamber floor by the Rev. Scott H. Jones, pastor of Cathedral of Hope UCC-Oklahoma City. Jones had been invited to deliver the prayer and serve as chaplain for the day by Rep. Al McAffrey, D-Oklahoma City.
Following the prayer, McAffrey asked that the session vote to include Jones' prayer in the House journal, the official daily record of the chamber. An objection was raised by Rep. John Wright, R-Broken Arrow, who called for a vote on the prayer's inclusion.
"It was a pretty chaotic moment," said Jones of the procedural points of order that ensued following Wright's objection. "My understanding was that [an objection to a prayer] never happens."
The vote took place once order had been established, with 64 representatives voting to include the prayer, 20 opposing it and 17 abstentions.
Jones is a constituent of McAffrey's Oklahoma City district. Both believe the objection was raised because of their sexuality. Jones leads the largest predominantly LGBT congregation in Oklahoma City and is himself gay. McAffrey is Oklahoma's only openly gay legislator.
"As the leader of Rev. Jones' denomination, I am deeply offended by the treatment he received from the legislature and dismayed by the message of intolerance it sends to the citizens of Oklahoma and beyond," said the Rev. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President of the UCC. "It is comforting, however, to remember that our prayers are judged at the throne of grace and not in the halls of petty principalities."
"The Oklahoman" newspaper quoted McAffrey on Wednesday, saying that "because most of Scott's congregation are gay people and Scott is gay himself, I'm sure that's the reason why there were negative votes on it."
But Wright sees it differently. In the same Oklahoman article, he stated his objection was procedural - that prayers were only entered into the official record on Thursdays - but later said his "actions were motivated by the faith."
Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, was among those who voted to strike the prayer from the record. Kern is on record as calling homosexuality "the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism and Islam."
The Rev. Gordon R. Epps, conference ministry coordinator for the UCC's Kansas-Oklahoma Conference, delivered a letter to Speaker of the House Rep. Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, on Thursday (Feb. 12). Epps commended Benge "for the democratic way you led the house when an unusual challenge was made to vote on whether or not to enter into the record the opening prayer given by the Rev. Scott Jones."
Responding in support of Jones, the UCC's Executive for Health and Wholeness Advocacy, the Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, said, "Once again, bigotry infects the Oklahoma statehouse by the vote of 20 legislators to reject the prayer offered by the Rev. Scott Jones. In this mean-spirited vote, they have demonstrated profound disrespect to a gifted pastor and a congregation dedicated to faithfully serving its community through a robust and vibrant ministry."
Schuenemeyer sees the proceedings as a clear indication of discrimination. "The action of these legislators has dishonored the core American values of freedom of religion and freedom of expression," he said. "The citizens of Oklahoma and this nation deserve better and ought not to tolerate such behavior from their fellow citizens, much less their elected officials."
The United Church of Christ is a denomination of 1.2 million members in 5,600 autonomous local churches that are joined together in Christian mission through local associations, regional conferences and the biennial all-church General Synod.
At their 2005 General Synod in Atlanta, UCC delegates voted overwhelmingly in support of a resolution calling for marriage rights to be extended to same-gender couples. The resolution, In Support of Equal Marriage Rights for All, "affirms equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender and declares that the government should not interfere with couples regardless of gender who choose to marry and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities and commitment of legally recognized marriage."
Cathedral of Hope UCC-Oklahoma City began in 2000 as a church plant of Cathedral of Hope UCC in Dallas. In January 2007, they became a fully autonomous congregation within the United Church of Christ.