Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson serves as Minister for Racial Justice with Justice and Witness Ministries in the National setting of the United Church of Christ. Before joining the national staff, Karen served in the Florida Conference United Church of Christ as a Pastor and on the Conference staff.
Karen provided leadership in the Florida Conference following the national launching of the Sacred Conversations on Race. Karen is a part of the JWM Cleveland Based Team leading the Sacred Conversation on Race initiative, but will spend a portion of her time working with JWM’s Racial Justice Program at Franklinton Center at Bricks and with public policy staff in the Washington DC Office. Key to her responsibilities is collaboration with other program staff to demonstrate the intersections of racism with other justice issues. She coordinates the development of new resources that will engage the UCC and wider community in the study of racism and other related dynamics. She represents the UCC in all settings, as related to racial justice.
Karen was ordained in 1999 at the General Baptist State Convention in North Carolina and was credentialed through Privilege of Call as a UCC Minister in 2003 by the New York Metropolitan Association. She has a broad range of professional experiences including serving as a local church Pastor, Associate Minister, Director of Christian Education, Director of Family Ministries, an Adjunct Professor and as the Executive Director of two private non-profit organizations. Karen earned a BA from Brooklyn College in New York, a Masters in Public Administration from North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC., and a Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York.
She is the mother of two sons: Everette, living in Atlanta and Patrick in Miami.
Creating the Beloved Community: Invocation, Confession and Assurance of Pardon For Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend
Easter Season "Sermon Seeds" for Sacred Conversation on Race
John Thomas 2008 Sermon
Prayer of Confession from the Amistad Dedication
Prayer of Confession, for Racial Justice Sunday
Call to Worship litany adapted from Trinity UCC
"Sacred Conversation," a hymn by Jim Ahrend
Pastoral Prayer: Open our Hearts to Dialogue
Confesión / Prayer of Confession
Confession: Racial Justice Sunday
O Compassionate Healer: Prayers for Racial Justice Sunday
Like Trees by the Water: Prayer for Racial Justice Sunday
Toward A Just and Beloved Community: Litany for Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday
To the "Still Speaking Church": Prayer for Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday
Readers' Theatre: Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Prayer for the UCC by COREM
For Courage, for Peace, for Unity: COREM Prays for the United Church of Christ
A Communion Prayer for Trinity Sunday
We Cannot Rest on Remembering: Prayer for Amistad Sunday
The Pilgrim Press
Selected titles appropriate for personal and group study
As you prepare to use one of these films in your Sacred Conversation on Race, we recommend that you review the film before showing it to be certain that it is appropriate for the group you have in mind. Careful thought should also be given to selecting the facilitators who will introduce the film and lead the discussion that follows the film. Because these films can evoke deep emotions and provoke a range of responses, we recommend that facilitators work in pairs.
In selecting the appropriate facilitators, the following qualities should be paramount:
- they are known and trusted by diverse groups within the congregation;
- they have experience and skill as group facilitators;
- they have a sustained commitment to understanding and addressing white privilege and racism;
- they are willing and able to spend time together designing a format for introducing and discussing the film;
- they are willing and able to do some additional research and reading about the topic prior to showing the film.
A number of these films have accompanying study guides. We recommend that you inquire about study guides when you order the films.
List of Films
Africans in America
A four-part documentary, originally produced for PBS, that chronicles the history of racial slavery in the United States – from the start of the Atlantic slave trade in the 16th century to the end of the American Civil War in 1865. The series explores the central paradox at the heart of the American story: a democracy that declared “all men equal” but enslaved and oppressed one people to provide independence and prosperity to another. The series can be purchased at http://www.pbs.org.
At the River I Stand.
The Spring of 1968 in Memphis marked the dramatic climax of the Civil Rights movement. At the River I Stand skillfully reconstructs the two eventful months that transformed a local labor dispute into a national conflagration, and disentangles the complex historical forces that came together with the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
66 minutes. DVD and video.
Banished vividly recovers the too-quickly forgotten history of racial cleansing in America when thousands of African Americans were driven from their homes and communities by violent, racist mobs. The film places these events in the context of present day race relations by following three concrete cases where black and white citizens warily explore if there is common ground for reconciliation over these expulsions.
84 minutes. DVD only. 877-811-1850.
A documentary by Shanti Thakur which has as its subject aboriginal practices of restorative justice as they are being integrated into the justice system in Canada. By bringing together the perpetrator of a crime, his or her victims, peers and elders, sentencing circles focus on finding ways to heal the offender, the victim and the community, instead of simply punishment. The Aboriginal men interviewed in the film see a crucial link between violence in their communities and the legacy of residential schools mandated for Indians that removed children from their families and forbid them to practice their native spiritual and cultural traditions.
58 minutes. DVD.
The Color of Fear
A groundbreaking film about the state of race relations in America as seen through the eyes of eight North American men of Asian, European, Latino and African descent. In a series of intelligent, emotional, and dramatic confrontations the men reveal the pain and scars that racism has caused them. What emerges is a deeper sense of understanding and trust. This is the dialogue most of us fear, but hope will happen sometime in our lifetime.
90 minutes. DVD. (510) 204-8840.
A Dream in Doubt.
Four days after the 9/11 attacks, Balbir Singh Sodhi was gunned down at his Phoenix area gas station by a man named Frank Roque. To Roque, Balbir Sodhi’s beard and turban – articles of his Sikh faith – symbolized the face of America’s new enemy. A Dream in Doubt follows Rana Singh Sodhi, Balbir’s brother, as he attempts to fight the hate threatening his family and community.
57 minutes. Color. DVD with Study Guide. (415) 863-0814.
Eyes on the Prize.
An award-winning 14-hour television series produced by Blackside and narrated by Julian Bond. Through contemporary interviews and historical footage, the series covers all of the major events of the civil rights movement from 1954-1985. Series topics range from the Montgomery bus boycott in 1954 to the Voting Rights Act in 1965; from community power in schools to "Black Power" in the streets; from early acts of individual courage through to the flowering of a mass movement.
Can be ordered through: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/eyesontheprize/
First Person Plural.
Deann Borshay was among thousands of South Korean orphans sent to the U.S. in the 1960s to be adopted and raised by American families. First Person Plural is a personal documentary that chronicles Borshay’s struggle to set right a case of mistaken identity and unravel the mysteries surrounding her adoption.
56 minutes. Study guide available. Center for Asian American Media. 415-863-7428.
A documentary by Linda Goode Bryant and Laura Poitras. Flag Wars is a stark look inside the conflicts that surface when black working-class families are faced with an influx of white gay home buyers to their Columbus, Ohio neighborhood.
Zula Pearl Films. 877-352-4927. http://www.flagwarsthemovie.com.
In Whose Honor: American Indian Mascots in Sports
By Jay Rosenstein, takes a critical look at the long-running practice of using American Indian names and images as mascots in sports. It follows the story of a Native American graduate student, Charlene Teters, and her transformation into the leader of a movement as she struggles to protect her cultural symbols and identity.
46 minutes. May be rented or purchased through New Day Films, 22-D Hollywood Ave., Ho-ho-kus, NJ. 201-652-6590.
Light in The Shadows.
American women of Indigenous, African, Arab, European, Jewish, Asian, Latina and Mixed Race descent, use authentic dialogue to crack open a critical door of consciousness.
45 Minutes. Color. DVD or Video. Recommended for advanced use only.
Made in L.A.
Traces the moving transformation of three Latina garment workers on the fault lines of global economic change who decide they must resist. The film provides an insider's view into both the struggles of recent immigrants and into the organizing process itself: the enthusiasm, discouragement, hard-won victories and ultimate self-empowerment.
Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible.
Features the experiences of white women and men who have worked to gain insight into what it means to challenge notions of racism and white supremacy in the United States.
50 minutes. Color. DVD or Video. 510-632-5156.
The Spirit of Crazy Horse.
One hundred years after the massacre at Wounded Knee, Milo Yellow Hair recounts the story of his people – from the lost battles for their land against the invading whites – to the bitter internal divisions and radicalization of the 1970's – to the present-day revival of Sioux cultural pride, which has become a unifying force as the Sioux try to define themselves and their future.
60 minutes. Available through Amazon.com.
This film is about six Asian American men who struggle against racism and their anguish and pain at the trauma of assimilation towards themselves and their families. A must-see film for those striving to better understand the "model minority" and the pressures of blending into the American culture.
40 minutes. VHS. 510-204-8840
Traces of the Trade.
In this documentary, film maker Katrina Browne discovers that her New England ancestors were the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history. She and nine cousins retrace the Triangle Trade and gain a powerful new perspective on the black/white divide. Traces of the Trade had its national broadcast television premiere on the PBS documentary series P.O.V. in June 2008.
ABC News documentary about two friends – John, who is White, and Glen, who is Black – who take part in a series of hidden camera experiments exploring people's reactions to each in a variety of situations. Prime Time Live, undercover, follows John and Glen separately as they each try to rent an apartment, respond to job listings, purchase a car, and conduct everyday activities such as shopping. In every instance, John is welcomed into the community while Glen is discouraged by high prices, long waits, and unfriendly salespeople.
19 minutes. Color. DVD or VHS. Available for loan from Justice & Witness Ministries: email@example.com.
The Way Home.
Over the course of eight months, sixty-four women representing a cross-section of cultures, (Indigenous, African-American, Arab, Asian, European-American, Jewish, Latina, and Multiracial) came together to share their experience of racism in America.
92 minutes. Color. DVD or VHS. 510-632-5156.
The Veterans of Hope Project
The Veterans of Hope Project has conducted interviews – available on DVD – with more than 50 religious leaders, activists, artists, and educators who are veterans of struggles for freedom and justice in this country and in other parts of the world. In the interviews, these individuals reflect on the role of religion/spirituality in their life and work, representing a unique educational resource on religion and democratic transformation. Among those interviewed: Andrew Young, Bernice Johnson Reagon, James Lawson, and Delores Huerta. DVDs can be purchased individually or as a series. http://www.veteransofhope.org. 303-765-3194.
What Makes Me White?
A film by A. M. Sands about the role of race in the daily lives of White People. Starting with her own story of a childhood in the suburbs, the filmmaker weaves in stories of other White People and observations by People of Color. Together, these narratives create a portrait of whiteness as a learned social reality, one that is vividly experienced by People of Color but largely unnoticed by Whites.
Color. DVD. 15 minutes.
When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.
Spike Lee’s documentary chronicles the experiences of people from diverse backgrounds and socio-economic conditions who endured the harrowing ordeal of living in New Orleans during and after the levees were breached. Through eyewitness accounts and expert commentary, the four-part documentary tells the saga of one of the greatest natural disasters experienced by any region of the country and the failure at all levels of government to respond adequately to the tragedy. Three-disc set is available through HBO.
253 minutes. Color. A multi-disciplinary curriculum guide, “Teaching The Levees,” published and distributed by Teachers College Press, can be downloaded at www.teachingthelevees.com.
White Shamans and Plastic Medicine Men.
A thoughtful critique of the appropriation of Native American culture and spirituality by white new age people who make a living and lifestyle from using and selling indigenous spiritual ritual and symbols. Throughout the video, Native Americans speak about their feelings and thoughts about the role of spiritual practice and the historical appropriation of indigenous land, resources, and now spirituality, by white people. White practitioners of Native American spirituality also share their feelings, thoughts and intentions.
Available for loan from: Western States Center– http://www.westernstatescenter.org. 503-228-8866.
Planning Your Sacred Conversation on Race
Regardless of the scope and length of your Sacred Conversation on Race, we recommend you engage in a thorough planning process before launching your Sacred Conversation. This document outlines a step-by-step process that can be undertaken by your planning committee.
Pastoral Letter on Racism
Issued in May 2008 by the UCC Collegium, The Pastoral Letter on Racism articulates the challenges and opportunities of a Sacred Conversation at this time in our nation’s history and the life of our church.
Pastoral Letter Talking Points
As a way of beginning discussion of the Pastoral Letter on Racism and the issues it raises, we invite you to use the Talking Points contained in this resource.
Frequently Asked Questions
In the months following the announcement of Sacred Conversation on April 3, 2008, some of you have written or called to express questions and concerns about this conversation. The FAQs offer responses to the issues you have raised.
Four Realms of Racism and Change
Racism is manifest in four different social realms: personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural. For change to be genuine and lasting, it must encompass all four realms. This resource describes the four realms and offers illustrations of each.
Congregational Self-Assessment Form
The process of congregational self-assessment can provide greater clarity about what is at stake for your congregation in talking about issues of race and racism and how the Sacred Conversation on Race can be a fruitful and engaging process for everyone.
Interview Questions for Prospective Facilitators
Whether you choose to contract with outside facilitators or invite members of the congregation to lead your conversations, we recommend that you interview the prospective facilitators. To assist you in this interviewing process, we have developed a set of questions for your use.
Individual Reflection Questions
This resource is designed to help individuals prepare for the Sacred Conversation on Race by reflecting on their personal experiences, values, and longings with regard to issues of race, racism, and Christian faith.
This evaluation form can be used to solicit written feedback from participants about what worked well and what could be improved or added in future conversations.
Multiracial, Multicultural Glossary
A glossary of concepts and terms frequently used in discussions related to issues of race, racism, and racial justice.
Organizations Offering Racial Justice Training and Education
In your search for trained facilitators, you might consider contacting organizations with a history of providing quality anti-racism education, training, and resources. Included are a website link, location of the main office, and brief description of each organization’s work and mission.
In an unprecedented public act of remorse for centuries of support for slavery, the Episcopal Church on Saturday (Oct. 4) held a dramatic service of repentance at one of the nation's first black churches.
Punctuated with the sound of a gong and the sung refrain of "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy," the service began with a "Litany of Offense and Apology" detailing the ways that the denomination participated in human captivity, segregation and discrimination.
More than 500 worshippers, a multicultural sea of faces, spilled over into the aisles of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, founded in 1792 by Absalom Jones, a former slave and the denomination's first black priest.
"Through it all, people of privilege looked the other way, and too few found the courage to question inhuman ideas, words, practices or laws," said Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
"We and they ignored the image of Christ in our neighbors."
Several of America's founding fathers - most notably George Washington - were Episcopalians and slave owners, and many of the nation's most historic and prominent steeples were built by wealthy donors who made their fortunes on the back of slave labor.
Yet Episcopalians were one of the few U.S. churches that managed to stay intact as the Civil War split Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists into northern and southern branches over the issue of slavery.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the United States. Last June, the U.S. House of Representatives issued its own apology for slavery.
"Apology and acknowledgment are an incredibly important part of the process of coming to terms with history," said Katrina Browne, whose recent film, "Traces of the Trade," explores the wealth accumulated by her Episcopal ancestors in Rhode Island through the slave trade.
The service, and the day of workshops that preceded it, were the result of a resolution passed at the Episcopalians' 2006 General Convention that called slavery a "sin" and a betrayal of the "humanity of all persons."
The 2006 resolution asked dioceses to research instances in which they have been complicit or profited from it, and asked the presiding bishop to hold a "Day of Repentance." Each diocesan cathedral was also asked to hold its own service of repentance.
A number of African American participants emphasized that however moving the event, it was only one step in an effort to redress denominational and social inequities.
Noting that another General Convention resolution addresses oppression of "all people of color victimized by society over the past 300 years," Canon Ed Rodman, a professor at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., added that "until the whole story is told and everybody's voice has been heard we cannot begin the process of reconciliation."
"It is one thing to repent of our sin, but another to turn around and go in the right direction," said Franklin Turner, retired Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
"I don't think it's what the church does inside the church," added the Rev. Isaac Miller, rector of the historic Episcopal Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia. "It's about what happens afterwards."
Everett Worthington, a professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University and a researcher in forgiveness, said public apologies can help usher in "some manner of justice back into a situation where there has been injustice."
Such apologies may narrow an individual's "injustice gap" - the space between the way someone would like to see an issue resolved, and the way they actually see it being resolved, he added.
The Rev. David Pettee, who oversees ministerial credentialing for the Unitarian Universalist Association, said he has also located slave owners and African and Native American ancestors in his own Rhode Island family tree.
"I was impressed by having the Episcopal Church make this move, and I personally hope that at some point we (the Unitarian Universalists) arrive at an act of redemption and apology," Pettee said after the service.
A joint resolution passed in 2001 by the UCC's General Synod and the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) called upon the United States government to "issue a national apology for participating in and supporting the kidnapping, exporting and enslaving of people of African descent."
The joint resolution also encouraged congregations, regions, ministries and national assemblies to "join in active study and education on issues dealing with reparations for slavery."
UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST CALLED TO BE AN ANTI-RACIST CHURCH
ADOPTED 2003 GENERAL SYNOD MULTIRACIAL/MULTICULTURAL ADDENDUM TO 1993 PRONOUNCEMENT AND PROPOSAL FOR ACTION
WHEREAS, racism is rooted in a belief of the
superiority of whiteness and bestows benefits,
unearned rights, rewards, opportunities,
advantages, access, and privilege on Europeans
and European descendants; and
WHEREAS, the reactions of people of color to
racism are internalized through destructive
patterns of feelings and behaviors impacting
their physical, emotional, and mental health and
their spiritual and familial relationships; and
WHEREAS, through institutionalized racism,
laws, customs, traditions, and practices
systemically foster inequalities; and
WHEREAS, the United Nations World
Conference against Racism, Racial
Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related
Intolerance affirmed that racism has historically
through imperialism and colonization created an
unequal world order and power balance with
present global implications impacting
governments, systems, and institutions; and
WHEREAS, the denomination has shown
leadership among many UnitedChurch of Christ
conferences, associations, and local
congregations by initiating innovative antiracism
programs, by developing anti-racism
facilitators, and in general have made
dismantling racism a priority, there is still much
to be done. As we continue in this effort, the
work we do must reflect the historical and
present experiences and stories of all peoples
impacted by racism. We must work from a
paradigm reflective of the historical
relationships of racial and ethnic groups and
racial oppression within the UnitedChurch of
Christ and society; and
WHEREAS, the United States finds itself in
increased racial unrest during this period after
the tragedy of September 11, 2001. New studies
show that hate crimes and blatant acts of racial
violence doubled in number during the last half
of 2002 and are continuing to rise. These
outward acts, combined with continued
institutional racism, emphasize the need for antiracism
mobilization within church and society as
we seek to do justice; and
WHEREAS, there are growing movements of
peace that have people of all races, backgrounds,
and ages involved, urging us to expand our
knowledge of what racism is and study its
ramifications on all people; and
WHEREAS, General Synods of the United
Church of Christ have, since 1963, voted eleven
resolutions, statements, and pronouncements
denouncing racism, and it is time to honor
mandates and expectations of this body and of
THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED, that the
United Church of Christ is called to be an antiracist
church and that we encourage all
Conferences and Associations and local
churches of the UnitedChurch of Christ to adopt
anti-racism mandates, including policy that
encourages anti-racism programs for all United
Church of Christ staff and volunteers; and
LET IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED, that
Conferences and Associations and local
churches facilitate programs within their
churches that would examine both historic and
contemporary forms of racism and its effects and
that the programs be made available to the
LET IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED, that
Justice and Witness Ministries provides
leadership in the development and
implementation of programs to dismantle
racism, working in partnership with the
Collegium, Covenanted Ministries, Affiliated
Ministries, Associated Ministries, Conferences,
Associations and local churches in developing
appropriately trained anti-racism facilitators; and
LET IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED, that the
Covenanted Ministries of the United Church of
Christ work in concert to dismantle racism in
church and in society and partner with
Conferences and Associations in sharing
resources and costs associated with doing antiracism
LET IT BE FINALLY RESOLVED, that the
Justice and Witness Ministries will report the
progress of the development and implementation
of these programs at the Twenty-fifth General
Funding for the implementation of this
resolution will be made in accordance with the
overall mandates of the affected agencies and
the funds available.
Multiracial and Multicultural Church
Resolution "Statement of Christian Conviction of the Proposed Pronouncement Calling the United Church of Christ to be a Multiracial and Multicultural Church"
93-GS-33 VOTED: The Nineteenth General Synod adopts the "Statement of Christian Conviction of the Proposed Pronouncement Calling the United Church of Christ to be a Multiracial and Multicultural Church."
Statement of Christian Conviction of the Proposed Pronouncement Calling the United Church of Christ to be a Multiracial and Multicultural Church
IV. STATEMENT OF CHRISTIAN CONVICTION
A. The Nineteenth General Synod calls upon the United Church of Christ in all its settings to be a true multiracial and multicultural church. A multiracial and multicultural church confesses and acts out its faith in the one sovereign God who through Jesus Christ binds in covenant faithful people of all races, ethnicities and cultures. A multiracial and multicultural church embodies these diversities as gifts to the human family and rejoices in the variety of God's grace.
B. The Nineteenth General Synod recognizes the following as marks of a multiracial and multicultural church:
1. CONFESSIONAL: A multiracial and multicultural church is called by God through Jesus Christ to acknowledge and confess its sins of racism and to repent and refrain from all acts of racial discrimination and bigotry.
2. THEOLOGICAL: A multiracial and multicultural church affirms Christian unity while celebrating the theological and liturgical richness that arises from its racial and ethnic diversity.
3. MISSION: A multiracial and multicultural church is called to participate in God's mission of doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God through Christ in all communities with all peoples in all places.
4. INCLUSIVE MINISTRY: A multiracial and multicultural church uses an inclusive and equitable procedure for the calling, placement and standing of ministers in the church while providing equal access to employment in all settings of the church: locally, regionally, nationally, globally and ecumenically.
5. RACIAL JUSTICE STRUCTURE: A multiracial and multicultural church has a full-time national racial justice agency that seeks to coordinate programmatic strategies and involve the entire membership of the church in making racial justice a reality in church and society.
6. MONITORING BODY: A multiracial and multicultural church has a racial and ethnic body to monitor all settings of the church on issues of racial and ethnic inclusivity in the ministry, mission and programs.
7. PROPHETIC ADVOCACY: A multiracial and multicultural church engages in effective prophetic advocacy and public policy development on the issues of racial, social, economic and environmental justice with particular concern as to how these issues impact the quality of life of people of color communities.
8. MULTILINGUAL: A multiracial and multicultural church supports the development and dissemination of multilingual resources for use throughout the church and facilitates the translation of all official church documents such as the constitution and bylaws, creeds or statements of faith into languages that are spoken fluently in the local churches.
9. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION COMMITMENT: A multiracial and multicultural church affirms acommitment to accomplish specific affirmative action goals and objectives.
10. CHRISTIAN EDUCATION, EVANGELISM, AND NEW CHURCH DEVELOPMENT: Amultiracial and multicultural church develops, supports and implements strategies concerning evangelism and new church development in racial and ethnic communities; challenges and invites every member of local congregations to move beyond traditional comfort zones in living out God's multiracial and multicultural mandate; and prepares Christian education resources relevant to the diversity of racial and ethnic Christian faith traditions and cultures within the church.
11. SEMINARY TRAINING: A multiracial and multicultural church encourages related seminaries knowledge concerning the diversity of cultural heritages and theological traditions of the racial and ethnic constituencies of the church.
12. FAITHFUL AND EQUITABLE STEWARDSHIP: A multiracial and multicultural church plans and implements strategies to help ensure and promote a faithful and equitable stewardship and sharing of the financial resources of the church in regard to the empowerment of all local churches, and in particular the empowerment of local racial and ethnic congregations that have been marginalized due to racial discrimination in society.
15. RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING A PROPOSAL FOR ACTION ON CALLINGTHE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST TO BE A MULTIRACIAL AND MULTICULTURALCHURCH
Assistant Moderator Malaski asked Ms. Bagley to continue with the report of Committee One. Ms. Bagley asked the delegates to find the appropriate materials in Report Pack C. She explained that, in addition to the Pronouncement, the Committee was assigned the Proposal for Action and the resolution entitled Resolution of "Affirmation of Previous Declarations, Pronouncements, Resolutions and Proposals for Action Pertaining to Institutional Racism and a Request to Implement the Recommendations of the Pastoral Letter on Contemporary Racism Throughout the United Church of Christ." Ms. Bagley stated that many of the issues the Committee discussed were contained in both the Resolution and the Proposal for Action. Consequently, after contacting the submitters of both pieces of business, the Resolution was consolidated into the Proposal for Action. She then spoke to the recommendations.
The Rev. Ronald Kurtz proposed a friendly amendment to add the Stewardship Council to #11 of the directional statement. The committee accepted the amendment.
Mr. Robert Sandman (OH) proposed the following amendment to the directional statement: To insert a paragraph after paragraph 2, section 3, Directional Statement. The paragraph to read: Believes furthermore that when each member and setting of the United Church of Christ acknowledges and confesses the sins of racism, God does forgive us and does love us still. God's forgiveness, however, is no license to go and sin again. Instead, this state of forgiveness and love is the beginning of the journey toward learning to become a multiracial and multicultural church.
Mr. Sandman spoke to the amendment. A discussion and vote followed.
93-GS-34 VOTED: The Nineteenth General Synod defeats the amendment.
There was more discussion regarding the original recommendation, and some questions of clarification were asked.
93-GS-35 VOTED: The Nineteenth General Synod adopts the "Recommendations Regarding a Proposal for Action on Calling the United Church of Christ to be a Multiracial and Multicultural Church." as amended.
A PROPOSAL FOR ACTION ON CALLING THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST TO BE A MULTIRACIAL AND MULTICULTURAL CHURCH
Ill. DIRECTIONAL STATEMENT
Whereas the Nineteenth General Synod has adopted the Pronouncement on Calling the United Church of Christ to be a Multiracial and Multicultural Church, and whereas General Synod in the Statement of Christian Conviction recognized the marks of a multiracial and multicultural church, the Nineteenth General Synod:
1. Calls upon the United Church of Christ in all its settings to be a true multiracial and multicultural church and to affirm a commitment to achieve this goal;
2. Calls upon all members, congregations, associations, conferences, instrumentalities, other national bodies, and related institutions of the United Church of Christ to acknowledge and confess faithfully their sins of racism, to repent and refrain from all acts of racial discrimination and bigotry, to confront indifference, ignorance and neglect, and to participate in deliberate study and action to stem the resurgent tide of racism in American society by identifying the root causes of racism as well as other forms of discrimination and oppressive acts that preclude our fulfillment of our covenant with God and each ocher;
3. Calls upon all members, congregations, associations, conferences, instrumentalities, other national bodies and related institutions of the United Church of Christ to affirm consistently the necessity of Christian unity while celebrating the theological and liturgical richness that arises from the racial and ethnic diversity of the United Church of Christ; and to participate actively in God's mission of doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God in all communities with all peoples in all places;
4. Calls upon all congregations, associations, conferences, instrumentalities, other national bodies, related institutions and future General Synods of the United Church of Christ consciously to elect, now and evermore, significant numbers of persons of all races, ethnicities and cultures to policy- making positions throughout the church;
5. Calls for an ethic of accountability in our relationships with each other in all settings of the church by empowering the national instrumentalities to collaborate and work collectively to develop and implement the study and action process of the "Pastoral Letter on Contemporary Racism" throughout the United Church of Christ; to incorporate the concern for institutional racism in all future plans and program implementation, and to request Council of Racial and Ethnic Ministries (COREM) to monitor continually the implementation of this Proposal for Action throughout the United Church of Christ, reporting to each General Synod through the Executive Council on the church's efforts, progress, and status in eradicating intentional and unintentional acts of racism in church and society;
6. Calls upon the Office for Church Life and Leadership, associations, conferences, and all other pertinent local, regional and national bodies to use an inclusive and equitable procedure for the recognition of calling, determination of placement and standing of ministers in the United Church of Christ; and to ensure equal access to employment in all settings of the United Church of Christ;
7. Calls upon the Commission for Racial Justice, in close consultation with COREM and its constituent bodies, to continue to coordinate the implementation of programmatic strategies in all settings of the UCC to challenge racial injustice, discrimination, and bigotry; and to provide leadership in helping to mobilize and involve the entire membership of the UCC to make racial justice a reality for all peoples in church and society;
8. Calls upon the Office for Church in Society, Commission for Racial Justice, Coordinating Center for Women, United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, United Church Board for World Ministries, other national bodies and all other settings to engage in effective prophetic advocacy and public policy development on the issues of racial, social, economic and environmental justice, in particular as to how these issues impact the quality of life of people of color communities in the United States and throughout the world; and that these bodies seek new creative opportunities toexperience the multiracial and multicultural realities of our world;
9. Calls upon all settings of the United Church of Christ to support the development and dissemination of multilingual resources for use throughout the UCC and where appropriate tofacilitate the translation of all official church documents such as the UCC Constitution and Bylaws, Statement of Faith and Statement of Mission into languages that are being spoken fluently in UCC local churches;
10. Calls upon the Executive Council and all settings of the United Church of Christ to reaffirm a commitment to accomplish the affirmative action goals and objectives that have been adopted by the General Synod; and to conduct a church-wide affirmative action audit to ascertain the current status of affirmative action within the life of the UCC;
11. Calls upon the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, the Stewardship Council, associations and conferences, in close consultation with COREM and its constituent bodies, to develop, support and implement new programmatic strategies concerning evangelism and new church development in racial and ethnic communities across the nation, particularly in those areas undergoing rapid demographic changes with increased populations of communities of color;
12. Calls upon the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, in close consultation with COREM and its constituent bodies, to prepare and make available Christian Education resources and materials relevant to the diversity of racial and ethnic Christian faith traditions and cultures within the United Church of Christ;
13. Calls upon the colleges and seminaries related to the United Church of Christ to expand curriculum development and educational programs to include awareness and knowledge concerning the diversity of cultural heritages and theological traditions of our multiracial and multicultural world;
14. Calls upon the Stewardship Council, Commission on Development, United Church Foundation, Pension Boards and other national bodies of the United Church of Christ to plan and implement a strategy to help ensure and promote a faithful and equitable stewardship and sharing of the financial resources of the UCC in regard to the empowerment of all local churches and in particular the empowerment of local racial and ethnic congregations that have been marginalized due to racial discrimination in society;
15. Calls upon the Office of Communication to communicate the United Church of Christ's multiracial and multicultural diversity policy and the multiracial and multicultural realities of the United Church of Christ and to promote the transition of the United Church of Christ into a truly multiracial and multicultural church; and
16. Calls upon the President of the United Church of Christ, the Secretary, the Director of Finance and Treasurer, the Executive Council, Council of Conference Ministers, Council of Instrumentality Executives, pastors and lay leaders of local congregations of the United Church of Christ to provide leadership, nurture and support towards the fulfillment of the Pronouncement and the implementation of this Proposal for Action Calling the United Church of Christ to be a Multiracial and Multicultural Church.
The Nineteenth General Synod directs the Commission for Racial Justice and the Office for Church in Society to coconvene an Implementation Committee which will coordinate the implementation of this Proposal for Action and requests a report to be made to all subsequent General Synods. The Office of the President, the Commission for Racial Justice, the Office for Church in Society. Stewardship Council, United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, United Church Board for World Ministries, the Office for Church Life and Leadership, Coordinating Center for Women, Council of Racial and Ethnic Ministries and the Council of Conference Ministers are to have representatives on the Implementation Committee.
Subject to the availability of funds.
Affirmative action is a policy or a program promoting the representation in social institutions of groups of people who have been traditionally and systematically discriminated against.
As people of faith who strive to cultivate the Beloved Community, our General Synod supports affirmative action, because our nation cannot be completely free without all people’s sharing the same rights and equal access to opportunities for advancement and equitable treatment. It is about more than diversity, for it is in fact a moral obligation to racial equity.
Why is it an issue of faith?
All people are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). The history and legacy of discrimination in our social institutions denies honor to God. We are called to do justice, love kindness and work humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). We are called to repentance and reconciliation by remedying the destructive impacts of systematic and compounded discriminations accumulated across generations.
Aren’t we “post-racial” yet?
The term "post-racial" may be used by individuals to express their sincere intention and desire that there is no more racism in our society. However, it does not describe the reality of racial disparities found in education, employment, housing, health and so on. It does not speak to the destructive impact of institutional rules, policies and structures that appear on the surface to be race-neutral in discrete entities (e.g. schools, districts). Structural racism is the cumulative effect of racial inequity in multiple institutions over time, and that is what Affirmative Action seeks to remedy.
UCC Social Policy Statements
The UCC historic policy based for Affirmative Action can be found in the General Synod resolutions regarding racial justice in 1971; racial and economic justice, women in church and society in 1975, implementation in the UCC, the church and persons with handicaps in 1979. The commitment to Affirmative Action in Church and Society was reaffirmed in 1981, and in 1995 in light of Supreme Court decisions.
1. Doesn’t affirmative action reward unmotivated people to get ahead in life?
Affirmative action only provides equal access and the fair chance to achieve success for underrepresented groups. It cannot guarantee that they will succeed, only that they are given the same opportunities that the White majority has. In reality, many underrepresented people can testify that they have to work twice as hard to prove themselves.
2. Doesn’t affirmative action justify the hiring or admission of under-qualified candidates?
Among qualified candidates, school should be allowed to choose based on their institutional goal of increasing diversity. At a deeper level, the history and legacy of systematic discrimination means that our society is not purely based on individual merit. People of color, women and the disabled have been put in positions by institutions that have not allowed them to maximize their full potential, and it would be unfair to judge people solely by their individual qualifications.
3. Doesn’t affirmative action punish Whites today for what happened hundreds of years ago?
While Whites today and virtually all of their ancestors never owned slaves, they benefit directly and indirectly from systematic racial discrimination. They have less competition for school admission, jobs and government programs, which helped propelled many Whites and their descendants into the middle and upper classes.
Many non-Whites and their descendants were and still are systematically left behind and denied the same basic educational, economic, and other opportunities. The wide gap created by a racialized system which promoted the dominant culture, mostly White male, for several hundred years unfortunately would take time to be closed adequately, so that eventually all candidates can be judged soley on their individual merit.
Racial profiling is the targeting of particular individuals based on the erroneous assumption that persons of a particular race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion are more likely to engage in certain types of unlawful conduct.
It is the impermissible use of personal characteristics when there is no reliable information that links a person of a particular race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion to a specific incident, scheme, or organization.
Why is it an issue of faith?
In honor to our Creator God, we honor all human beings as being created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). As people of faith, we are called to be in solidarity with all people, because God shows no partiality (Acts 10:34-35).
What does that really mean in real life?[i]
Nationally, Black drivers are twice more than White drivers to be arrested. Hispanic drivers are more likely than White drivers to receive a ticket. White drivers are more likely to receive a written warning than Hispanic drivers. White drivers are more likely than Black drivers to be verbally warned by police. Statewide data also confirm this pervasive phenomenon of “Driving While Black or Brown.”
In addition, minority pedestrians are often subjected to suspicion-less stops-and-frisks, as shown in data collected through the NYPD and LAPD. Street-level law enforcement authorities are provided with wide discretion in community policing, which is often exercised to racially profile minorities who are perceived to be a threat to public safety even if they have done nothing wrong.
Religious profiling is sometimes used as a proxy for race, ethnicity or national origin.
Muslims and Arabs in the U.S. are being singled out for question and detention, on the basis of religion and national origin, by federal programs such as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), which requires certain individuals from predominantly Muslim countries to register with the federal government, be fingerprinted, photographed and interrogated.
79% of targets investigated by the federal covert program OFL, Operation Front Line to “deter terror operations” were immigrants from Muslim majority countries. In our nation’s airports, individuals wearing Sikh turbans or Muslim head coverings are often profiled for higher security at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints.
- Immigration law enforcement
Vast numbers of Hispanics – most of whom U.S. citizens or legal residents, are racially profiled. State and local agencies target Hispanic individuals and entire Hispanic communities in a broad way to enforce federal immigration law, when several problematic collaborative programs with ICE are supposedly to be narrowly focused.
In addition, some state lawmakers undertake initiatives of their own that further encouraged racial profiling. For example, Arizona’s S.B. 1070 turns mere civil infractions of federal immigration law, such as not carrying registration papers, into state crimes, and gives private citizen the right to sue Arizona law enforcement authority if they believe that the law is not being fully enforced.
What kind of legislation is proposed in regard to racial profiling?
The End Racial Profiling Act (S. 1670) has been introduced to the 112th Congress in 2011-2012, and heard by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. ERPA will create a federal prohibition against racial profiling, provide funding to train officials on how to end this practice, and hold law enforcement officials and agencies that continue to use racial profiling accountable.
[i] Restoring a National Consensus: The Need to End Racial Profiling in America by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (Washington, DC), March 2012.
Created to live with God; created to Be In Community With One Another
I'm often asked, "Why does everything boil down to race?" It seems that the issue of racism is one which intersects all aspects of our being. Issues of privilege and advantage, inclusion and exclusion impact our relationships with each other and to the goods, services and opportunities of society. Our present racial/ethnic group relationships are informed by our histories and shaped by the realities of living in a racialized society. As people of faith, we are called to recognize racism?s impact on our relationships with each other and with God. The resource entitled, Transformative Justice: Being Church and Overcoming Racism, acknowledges racism as a sin and states the following:
Churches have declared that racism is a sin
Racism is a sin because it:
* denies the very source of humanity ? the image of God in humankind;
* destroys God?s likeness in every person and thus repudiates creation and its goodness;
* assumes that human beings are not equal before God and are not part of God?s family;
* is contrary to biblical teaching;
* denies basic justice and human dignity;
* is a blatant denial of the Christian faith;
* is incompatible with the Gospel;
* is a flagrant violation of human rights;
* separates us from God and from other human beings;
* makes us blind to the reality of people?s suffering and
* perpetuates racist attitudes, practices and institutional racism.
We have confessed that racism is a sin, not only as individual Christians, but also as churches. To affirm that racism is a sin has a radical implication for the churches: the radical commitment to overcome it.
—Transformative Justice: Being Church and Overcoming Racism, Resource Guide, World Council of Churches 2004
This is our prayer Dear God, Creator of the universe and all that inhabit it, we come as your Church, and as individuals, in humble submission to Your Word and Your Way. God, you who are Alpha and Omega, The Almighty Judge and The Forgiver of All Sins, we come with bowed heads and contrite hearts on behalf of generations past, present and those yet unborn. We now ask that you forgive us and create in us a new spirit. Bind our hearts and send forth the healing power that You and You alone can give to us and this sin sick world. Bring us into reconciliation with one another and restore us to thy path. Amen.
Adaptation of Alter Prayer, Acknowledging The Breach, from Reparations: A Process for Repairing The Breach: A Study and Discussion Guide for Local Congregations, Associations and Conferences of the United Church of Christ.
This is our covenant
O God, as people of faith, we covenant with you, with one another and our churches to:
* become better informed about people of other races and cultures, that we may overcome the fears and misconceptions that exist;
* consider how issues of racial prejudice and privilege affect each person with whom we come in contact;
* discover and acknowledge practices and structures that are racist in our churches and communities;
* work to erase the sins of racism and injustice where they exist in our churches and communities and
* prayerfully heed Your call to embrace people of all colors, faiths, economic and social backgrounds as our brothers and sisters.
—Submitted by Dismantling Racism Task Force, St. Louis Association, Missouri Mid-South Conference, United Church of Christ