For more than 40 years, the United Church of Christ has affirmed our commitment to improving the criminal justice systems of state and federal governments, citing our belief that prisons should be primarily institutions for the training and rehabilitation of the inmates. We base this affirmation on our call to service, justice, and restoration through faith. To sell facilities to private companies for the purpose of profit is a violation of these fundamental beliefs.
The primary source of income for private prisons is based on the number of people incarcerated. This contradicts our belief that we are all first and foremost children of God, and our bodies are not first and foremost the mechanism for corporate profit-making.
Income for private prisons depends entirely on maintaining a large and stable inmate population. Privatized prison management often demands guaranteed occupancy rates. These guarantees run counter to declining prison population trends, and they violate efforts toward early release, alternative sentencing and other forms of restitution, especially in cases of non-violent crimes.
When corporate profit is the primary purpose of prison ownership, the purpose of prisons to train and rehabilitate inmates is subverted. Rehabilitation is an expensive undertaking, and yields benefits to society as a whole, but is not profitable for shareholders. We believe that rehabilitation is an essential function of prison administration that completely contradicts the purpose of private ownership.
Private prisons have been exempted from public reporting of crimes and escapes and the Freedom of Information Act, among other fundamental legal reporting mechanisms. To privatize prison facilities or their management contradicts all initiatives for public information that can lead to necessary prison reform, and greatly reduces public accountability for the equitable and just safekeeping of convicted persons.
Private prisons have been known to maintain profit by cutting costs in the areas of training and staff remuneration, with the consequence that these prisons raise serious concerns about management, staff competence and supervision, with potential to endanger the populace as a whole.
Private prisons are most active in the incarceration of immigrants, who are often held in detention for indefinite and lengthy periods of time without public accountability or reporting.
We publicly urge that private ownership and operation of state-owned prison facilities be abolished throughout the country.
Straight talk about key issues in the midterm election season
Recorded October 22, 2014: https://pbucc.webex.com/pbucc/ldr.php?RCID=1ec6cd99f73e6749c4ce60f79d7e564c
Tired of campaign ads that don’t actually address the real issues at stake in the upcoming elections? Looking for something more than superficial soundbites about the issues that matter to you and your community? The latest in our series of Our Faith Our Vote webinars is for you! Join us on October 22 at 3 pm for a discussion about key issues facing our nation and world as we head into the midterm elections. Our speakers will highlight issues related to the economy, health care and international peace and security from a faith perspective. Join the dialogue and share your questions and concerns. (Stream recording)
Voter Registration – Make every voice heard! (Recorded)
September 23 marks National Voter Registration Day, a good reminder that there is still time to ensure that members of your congregation and community are registered to vote.
Wondering how to make voter registration opportunities available to your community? Concerned about the guidelines for nonprofit religious organizations engaging in voter registration and education? This webinar is for you!
Sign up to participate in the UCC Our Faith Our Vote webinar on voter registration, Friday, September 19 at 3 pm EST. If you are not able to join the webinar in live time, you can access an archived version through the UCC Our Faith Our Vote website.
In this pivotal midterm election year, with so many challenges ahead for our nation and the world, much is at stake in choosing our policy decision makers. You can help make sure that the voices of your community are heard.
(Recorded September 19, 2014 |http://bit.ly/1r73Ohw)
Our Faith Our Vote 2014 (Recorded)
The first Just Practice webinar focused on how members and congregations can be engaged in electoral politics. Together we explored a number of questions, including:
- Why we are involved in electoral politics and what is our unique voice as communities of faith?
- Our Faith Our Vote, a UCC campaign to assist congregations and members to be faithfully engaged in the electoral process.
- Election rules as they apply to congregations – what we can and can’t do.
- What is the Voting Rights Amendment Act? Why is it important for our right to vote and how can we support it.
- Role of “big” money in campaigns - Why this is an important issue and what we can do about it.
- Your questions and concerns
(Recorded June 5, 2014)
- Webinar Recording
- Just Practices: Our Faith Our Vote presentation (PowerPoint)
- Moving Forward on Voting Rights - Presntation by Ellen Buchman (PowerPoint)
- Government for Sale: The Crisis of Money in Politics - Presentation by Aquene Freechild (PowerPoint)
Congregations Engaging in the Elections (Recorded)
This webinar will focuses on “best practices” from the 2012 Our Faith Our Vote campaign- a time to share stories and ideas about how UCC members and congregations can and are engaging in voter registration, education, and get-out-the-vote. We also explores ways you can incorporate the Our Faith Our Vote campaign into your congregation’s fall programming. Our speakers are UCC justice advocates from congregations around the country who have been actively engaged in the electoral process. (Recorded August 29th, 2012)
When Religion and Politics Meet: A Conversation About the Role of Religion in the Electoral Process (Recorded)
Although we have heard it said that religion and politics shouldn’t mix, people of faith can and do play an important role in the public square and the political life of our nation. But what might that role look like, and how can people of faith and houses of worship engage in the electoral process in a healing, respectful and responsible way? What are some of the legal guidelines for participation by people of faith? What are some of the uses and misuses of religion in political campaigns, and how can people of faith promote civil, thoughtful dialogue across differences on critical issues of the day.
Join us for a conversation with Rev. Welton Gaddy, President of the Interfaith Alliance, and K. Hollyn Hollman, general counsel, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty to learn about ways that you and your congregation can become involved! (Recorded: May 15, 2012)
In the United States, we have prided ourselves for generations on a system of public education that has been envied by nations all over the world. Public schools are publicly funded, universally available, and accountable to the public. Today there are myriad attacks on the public in public education. The questions we must ask when private alternatives are promoted are whether the market has a greater interest in serving the poorest and most vulnerable children and what all children and our society have to lose or gain if we privatize all or part of the vast institution of public education. We in the churches have advocated for a long, long time to make public schools more equitable. Because they are public institutions, we have been able to do that. There are also serious concerns about the loss of public purpose and public control. When schools are privatized, what is the government's moral and fiscal responsibility to the students remaining in the neighborhood public shcools? What should the federal government and state governments do to improve the regulation of charter schools?
Our UCC Web Pages on the Privatization of Public Education
- What Values Underpin Proposals for Privatization of Public Education? Individualism. Competition.
- Charter Schools and Charter School Management Organizations (CMOs) Are a Form of Privatization
- Virtual E-Schools that Serve Students over the Internet Are a Form of Privatization
- Vouchers and Tuition Tax Credits Are a Form of Privatization
- Private Contractors Play an Ever Larger Role in Public Education
- Who Is Using Political Pressure to Drive Privatization of Public Education?
General Synod Policy
The UCC's General Synod has recognized that allocation of scarce public dollars is a primary concern. Unless significant additional tax funds can be generated, schools which are publicly funded but privately operated drain funding from the public school districts that are expected to continue to provide the full range of services for children, including services for students like those with special needs and English language learners, who require expensive special services. General Synod 15 declared, "We defend the right of parents to choose alternative, private, religious, or independent schools, but continue to declare that those schools should be funded by private sources of income." In a Resolution for the Common Good, General Synod 25 affirmed "the role of public institutions paid for by taxes for ensuring essential services and protecting the good of the wider community." Today some privatized schools are not-for profit, but many are making a profit for owners or shareholders from public tax dollars.
2013 Annual Message on Public Education Addresses Privatization
Justice & Witness Ministries creates a resource to comment from the point of view of the church on the conditions in public schools and public school reform. In years past, we have mailed the resource to all churches; these days we publish our resources on-line only. Here is the JWM 2013 Message on Public Education:The Public Purpose of Public Education. And here are the UCC's 2013 succinct, updated talking points to help faithful advocates reflect on and speak to what needs to happen today in public school reform.
May 23, 2013: Ongoing inequality in Pennsylvania school funding, debates about union contracts, and discussions of privatization wreck havoc on the public schools in Philadelphia: Who's Still Killing Philly Schools? The Status Quo is Now State Control and Permanent Crisis.
May 20, 2013: Nicholas Lemann, writing for the New Republic, tells How Michelle Rhee Misled Education Reform. A very important analysis.
April 10, 2013: Helen Ladd, professor of public policy at Duke University defines The Perils of a 'Private' Vision for North Carolina Schools.
March 7, 2013: Peter Montgomery of at Right Wing Watch, People for the American Way, explores growing move toward vouchers: Right-Wing Voucher Push Undermines Public Education & Constitution.
February 15, 2013: Here is a ground breaking expose from Reuters on use of selection screens in a number of charter schools in locations across the United States. A must read for those concerned that public school reform today seems aimed at those with high motivation or more advanced skills and fails to serve the most vulnerable children.
- Updated guidelines on how National, International and Regional partners can support Ugandan LGBTI Persons and their allies from the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CSCHRCL), a coalition in Uganda.
General Synod Resolution
In July of 2011, the 28th General Synod of the United Church of Christ adopted a resolution, "Supporting International Human Rights Related to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity". The purpose of the resolution is to raise awareness of international instances of systematic discrimination, violence and abuse targeting persons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI), and of contexts where such abuse is not prohibited by law but rather legally, politically, socially, and even religiously sanctioned.
The resolution advocates for the Yogyakarta Principles and thus, commits the United Church of Christ to advocate for the fair and equal application of universal human rights principles and laws toward the protection of all persons from sexual or gender status-based abuse, discrimination or criminal prosecution.
In 2006, in response to well-documented patterns of abuse, a group of international human rights experts met in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to outline a set of international principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. The result was the Yogyakarta Principles: a universal guide to human rights which affirm binding international legal standards with which all States must comply. They promise a different future where all people born free andequal in dignity and rights can fulfill that precious birthright.
God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them. --Genesis 1:27
You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy laborers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land in one of your towns. --Deuteronomy 24:14
Labor Trafficking: Modern-day Slavery
Human trafficking, also known as modern-day slavery, refers to the use of force, coercion, fraud, or abduction to exploit a person for profit. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to labor and/or sexual exploitation that may take many forms including debt bondage, forced labor, domestic servitude, sexual abuse of children for profit, prostitution, pornography, bride trafficking, and child soldiering.
Each year some 14,000 to 18,000 persons are trafficked into the United States. These trafficked children of God are denied their liberty and freedom to make choices. Their potential for fullness of life, as envisioned by God for all God’s people, is taken away. Trafficking denies the value of human life and endangers the physical and mental well-being of victims. It is a crime against humanity and ultimately a sin.
In 2009, General Synod XXVII approved a resolution, A Call to Awareness and Action to End the Practice of Trafficking in Persons that called all settings of the UCC to “engage in education about the issue of trafficking in persons and advocacy efforts to end this criminal and abusive practice.”
Two years later in 2011, General Synod XXVIII met with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a group of farm workers based in Immokalee, FL, who seek dignity, and improved wages and working conditions in the fields. The CIW reported that “modern-day slavery continues to be a problem in the agricultural industry today.”
The most important kinds of labor trafficking are forced labor and debt bondage.
A victim of forced labor is made to work, often under conditions that violate U.S. labor laws, with restricted freedom and without freely-given consent. Victims of forced labor work under threat of punishment and/or violence. Forced labor can take the form of domestic servitude; agricultural labor; sweatshop factory labor; janitorial, food service and other service industry labor; and forced begging.
Often individuals become victims of labor trafficking due to deception or coercion. Victims of debt bondage (also called bonded labor) are enslaved and required to work as a form of repayment for a loan or service (such as transportation) whose terms and conditions were not clearly defined at the time the agreement was made. In other cases, the value of the victim’s labor is not accurately applied to the repayment of the debt. The work that individuals perform while in bondage often exceeds the amount of their “loan” or the value of the service received.
Immigrants are especially susceptible to labor trafficking because of language barriers, lack of familiarity with U.S. laws and institutions, and concerns about deportation if they contact authorities.
Five Things You Can Do to End Human Trafficking
The UCC has worked with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers on issues of labor trafficking in agriculture. Nonetheless, while many people know that farm workers suffer from poor working conditions and poverty-level wages, few realize that they may also be victims of modern-day slavery and labor trafficking.
Creating change is not as simple as boycotting a specific supermarket or brand of produce. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has learned that the best way to eliminate slavery in U.S. agriculture is to enlist the power of corporation that purchase large quantities of agricultural products. These companies set the specifications for the products they buy, for example, the size, color, and price of the tomatoes. These firms also have the power to specify acceptable pay and working conditions in the fields. They could halt the use of forced labor. Consumers, through their buying power, have the ability to pressure corporations to take on these new responsibilities. Now we need to do it. Our purchases must not facilitate and perpetuate these abuses.
- Educate yourself about the issue (See Additional Resource below).
- Consult the most recent information and explore the outcomes of real cases and efforts to help trafficked persons. (See Additional Resource below)
- Invite a speaker to come to your church to start discussing the issue in your community.
Read the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ anti-slavery webpage.
- As people of faith, we recognize the profound power of prayer in all things. Pray for trafficked persons, for all who work to assist trafficked person, for those who work to prevent human trafficking, for traffickers to cease their practice, and for a global economy that promotes human well-being.
- Congregations can observe National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on the Sunday closest to January 11th each year.
3. Engage with your community
- Spread awareness: plan an educational workshop, show a movie on trafficking, start a book group, or invite a speaker to your church or a community gathering.
- Educate children and youth about human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
- Support state legislation to protect minors as victims.
- Support social service organizations working in your community to prevent human trafficking or support survivors. Find out what anti-trafficking groups are doing to raise awareness in your area.
4. Take Action
- Learn what is happening in your community and state and support efforts to end trafficking.
- Partner with experienced social service, legal and government entities to assist trafficked persons. Don’t do it alone; you can be more harmful than helpful.
- Support reauthorization and strengthening of the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).
- Research your own state laws on human trafficking. There are still states without legislation to prohibit and punish human trafficking and many laws are in need of reform. Determine whether these laws fully protect the rights of people who have been trafficked.
- Contact your federal and state elected representatives, and social service and law enforcement agencies. Let them know that you care about this issue.
- Congregations can work with local offices of the U.S. Department of Justice Human Trafficking Taskforce or the U.S. Health and Human Services Rescue and Restore Coalition to create emergency housing and provide jobs for survivors of human trafficking. Do not do this alone, work with trained professionals.
5. Keep trafficked persons involved in the decisions-making
- Do not coerce trafficked persons into accepting help they do not want but explain their options, and be available for them to contact you in the future.
- Do not allow your desire to protect trafficked persons override their right to make choices about their own life and situation.
- For guidelines in respecting the human rights of children who require additional protections given their age, consult UNICEF.
U.S. Department of Labor, 10 Things Your Congregation, Synagogue or Mosque Can Do To Help Workers
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, What is human trafficking?
US Department of Labor, List of goods produced by child labor or forced labor [4.67 MB] Don’t just boycott products but also support campaigns seeking to involve corporations in policing their suppliers.
US Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report and the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
United Nations, Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Report on human trafficking and smuggling of migrants
Change.org, 7 Ways to Fight Slavery at the Grocery Store
Multiple resources on child trafficking are available from UNICEF
Free the Slaves is an organization committed to ending slavery through the advocacy of individuals, organizations, businesses and governments
The Polaris Project is one of the largest anti-trafficking organizations in the US and provides information on domestic trafficking
The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) is a non-profit organization that provides social and legal services for victims and other advocacy
- Freedom Network USA provides resources, list of organizations which are part of Freedom Network, and training
- The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today, Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter, University of California Press, 2010
- Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy by Kevin Bales.
- Nobodies: Modern Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy, John Bowe, Random House, 2007.
- The War on Human Trafficking: US Policy Assessed, Anthony M. DeStefano, Rutgers University Press, 2007.
- Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade -- And How We Can Fight It, by David Batstone, HarperOne, 2001.
- Ending Slavery: How Do We Free Today’s Slaves, by Kevin Bales, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 2007. A guide for individuals and organizations who want to become part of the solution to ending human trafficking.
- National Human Trafficking Resource center and 24 hour, toll-free, multilingual anti-trafficking hotline: 1-888-3737-888. Call to report a tip (do not investigate yourself), connect with anti-trafficking services in your area, or request training and technical assistance, general information or specific anti-trafficking resources.
Our Faith Our Vote, which seeks to engage and empower the public witness of the UCC, is deeply informed by our Christian faith and theological grounding.
Vote Faithfully Sunday
We invite you to join with our Ecumenical partners in observing the Sunday before election day as "Vote Faithfully Sunday." This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and uplift every voice in our community, reflect on our commitment to the common good and prepare to cast our ballots.
How will you observe Vote Faithfully Sunday? Here are some ideas:
- Download the Vote Faithfully Sunday Ecumenical toolkit: This toolkit provides helpful, nonpartisan resources for engaging with your congregation and community on Vote Faithfully Sunday. It includes:Worship Resources & Prayers; Action Steps including a Voter Pledge, Voter Mobilization Tips, FAQs & Election Protection Info; And more!
- Worship: Use the worship materials in the toolkit and below to celebrate Vote Faithfully Sunday
- Pledge: Invite your members to commit to casting a Ballot in November. Download these "Vote Faithfully Pledge Cards" and collect them through your offering. Send them back to our DC office if your members want to join our UCC Justice Network!
- Get Out the Vote: Make sure every member of your congregation knows where they can turn for help if they have trouble casting their ballot. Share information about the Election Protection hotlines from our partners.
We have included worship resources to help congregations lift up and affirm the connection between corporate worship and the living out of faith in the public sphere. In this section you will find liturgical resources that reflect our call to pray for a more just, peaceful and compassionate world, and to engage in political and public efforts that will help bring it about.
- UCC Worship Ways: Seeds for Election Season Prayers
- UCC Worship Ways: Prayers to Help Counter Fears
- Trusting in the Source - Service Prayers for a Sunday in Election Season
- Prayer: Prayer to the God of Love, Relationship and Community
|Possible Song Choices from Sing! Prayer and Praise
13 Love and Justice
16 Come to the Water
50 Song of Mercy
69 God Weeps
77 Blessed Are You
86 Taste and See
101 Make Us All One
112 Come to the Table of Grace
120 Dream God’s Dream
127 Dance of the Spirit
137 Come Sweet Justice
170 We Share a Hunger
178 Here Are Our Hearts
199 Go Make a Difference
Let's Make a Pact for Peace/Pactemos la Paz | September 20-23, 2019
A place of diverse peoples, cultures and ecology, Colombia is tragically also home to the longest - running internal armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere.
September 20-23 are the days churches in the U.S. join in solidarity and prayer with brothers and sisters in Colombia. We want to lift up those who are working for peace and strengthen political support for the 2016 peace accords that are in danger of failing.
Resources for DOPA 2019
Click here to download a worship packet with prayers, litanies, and songs you can use to lift up Colombia in your worship services on September 22 or in the coming months.
Click here to download an advocacy packet with further background information on the conflict and context as well as several actions you can take including a letter to congress, a petition to be sent to Ambassador Goldberg (hosted by the Latin American Working Group), and a “Pact” we are signing with partners in Colombia which is described below.
During the Days of Prayer and Action for Peace in Colombia, we are inviting advocates in the U.S. and Colombia to sign a “Pact for Peace” as a sign of their commitment together. Read the pact below and sign the Pact here. Consider sharing a statement of commitment or even printing the pact with your signature and sharing a photo on social media using #LetsMakeAPactForPeace and #DOPA2019.
Keep an eye on the DOPA Facebook page for further updates.
Questions? Contact Rev. Michael Neuroth
Let’s Make a Pact for the Peace of Colombia
In these Days of Prayer and Action for Peace in Colombia, we invite people of conscience and commitment to join in the movement for peace, and symbolize their commitment by signing the pact below. Consider sharing your commitment with a phrase or photo on social media using #LetsMakeAPactForPeace and #DOPA2019, and make a friendship bracelet in the yellow, red, and blue of the Colombian flag as a reminder of this call to peacemaking. You may register your signature on this form.
By signing our names to this pact, we seek to put in words some of the basic principles that orient our way of living as people of conscience and commitment. They are an attempt to respond to the question: What do we desire, for other people and for ourselves? We hope that people of diverse political perspectives, social classes, ethnic and religious groups, can be united in this pact, which expresses our commitment to seek the common good.
Our Pact for the Peace of Colombia
We affirm that life is sacred, in all its expressions, in humanity and the rest of creation. And so, we pact to reject war and violence as methods to solve conflict.
We affirm that we are all part of this country, not only those of us who think the same. And so, we pact to listen to those who think or behave differently, engaging in dialogue about their ideas and lived experiences, and although we may not agree with them, we will not hate or stigmatize the other.
We affirm that without justice it is impossible to build peace. And so, we pact to defend the proper and independent operation of the mechanisms of the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Non-Repetition which keep the victims of Colombia's conflict at the center in the effort to do justice after generations of war.
We affirm that peace must be holistic and complete. And so, we pact to insist upon the fulfillment and implementation of the peace accords that were signed, and the renewal of dialogues with the ELN guerrilla group.
We affirm the value and dignity of campesino farmers, Afro-descendant communities, and indigenous ethnic groups. And so, we pact to promote their rights and to celebrate their leadership in Colombian society.
We affirm that peace is not a destination but a way of life. And so, we pact to cultivate patience, humility, coherence, and love in our life, so that these radical values might orient our actions and the practices and policies of our society.
Learn more about Colombia
- UCC Resolutions on Colombia
- Blog by UCC missionary in Colombia
- LatinAmerican Working Group
- Witness forPeace, Colombia
- Mennonite Central Committee, Washington DC
- Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America
“When I visited Colombia last year, I realized how beautiful this country is. Colombia is rich in culture and natural resources. I admired the work of local churches and community leaders who find ways to respond to the humanitarian crisis caused by decades of armed conflict… In accordance to our 24th General Synod, we call our churches to support the humanitarian and peace work of our Colombian brothers and sisters. Days of Prayer and Action is a great way to get involved. Engage your faith community in this important event for peace in Colombia”. ~Mike Neuroth~
“Every year we gather and work in our local churches to raise awareness of the impact of the U.S foreign policy towards Colombia. Days of Prayer and Action has united our spirit for one cause and strengthen our relationships with the people of Colombia, to whom we know and care for”. ~Barbara Gerlach~
Our History in the Struggle for Environmental Justice.
The United Church of Christ was an early leader in the cause of environmental justice and in the fight against environmental racism. We began with the protest against the establishment of a toxic waste dump in a predominantly Black community in North Carolina. Growing out of that event, the UCC Commission for Racial Justice conducted the now-famous 1987 statistical survey on "Toxic Waste and Race." The UCC sponsored two "People of Color Summit Meetings" and the first of those meetings generated what is now seen as the classic list of ethical norms for the environmental justice movement.
Through the years, the UCC has actively provided support to a variety of grassroots groups addressing specific instances of environmental racism such as hog farming in North Carolina, the environmental destruction from military activities in Vieques, Puerto Rico, and pollution along the Mexico-US border. The UCC’s emphasis on environmental racism has been strengthened by its relationship to our denomination’s strong stands and constituencies related to racial justice, a well-established "issue-based" action strategy, and advocacy methods similar to that used for other justice work within the UCC.
The UCC Network for Environmental and Economic Responsibility (NEER) was formed in the late 1980s and early 90s as a grassroots effort with a broad eco-justice agenda. NEER was active in promoting "Whole Earth Churches" on the model of "Just Peace Churches", and over 300 congregations made that declaration. NEER gathered a large delegation of UCC members to attend the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, and organized several regional conferences for education and leadership training.
In the new century, the UCC has continued its environmental and racial justice advocacy at the Centers for Education and Social Transformation. In 2007, the Energy and Environment Task Force presented a report to the General Synod to combine the strengths of our historic advocacy against environmental racism and the added advocacy for climate justice towards establishing the UCC Environmental Justice Center at Pilgrim Firs in Port Orchard, Washington.
2009 Twenty-seventh General Synod--Grand Rapids
- On the Urgency for Action on Climate Change. Resolution of Witness. The Executive Council recommends referral of the resolution, "On the Urgency for Action on Climate Change," submitted by the Connecticut Conference, to the implementing bodies named in "A Resolution on Climate Change" as voted by the Twenty-Sixth General Synod (07-GS-16).
- Earthwise Congregation: On Mediating Climate Change. Prudential Resolution. The Executive Council recommends referral of the resolution, "Earthwise Congregation: On Mediating Climate Change," submitted by the Minnesota Conference, to the implementing bodies named in "A Resolution on Climate Change" as voted by the Twenty-Sixth General Synod (07-GS-16).
2007 Twenty-Sixth General Synod in Hartford
2005 Twenty-Fifth General Synod in Atlanta
- Call for Environmental Education and Action This Resolution calls on all expressions of the United Church of Christ to implement programs for education and action to address issues of environmental protection, environmental justice and sustainable development. It establishes an Environmental Steering Committee to implement this Resolution in close coordination with Justice and Witness Ministries.
- Resolution on Supporting Congregations and Providing Guidance for Leadership This resolution is offered to initiate exploration by the United Church of Christ of the role of the Church in meeting economic, ecological, and consequent spiritual challenges associated with predicted declines in future oil and natural gas supplies. The UCC is asked to begin a long term program to support faith based actions to create conditions that will foster a movement to sustainable conditions at the individual church, conference, UCC, and broader societal levels.
2001 Twenty-third General Synod
- Call For Staffing to Address EcoJustice Concerns This resolution urges each of the four Covenanted Ministries of the United Church of Christ to designate staff to deal with ecojustice issues and themes and to work cooperatively with the other ministries to ensure that the spiritual, theological, moral. and social dimensions of ecojustice are addressed across the life of the whole church.
Formed in 2005 from a combination of two prudential resolutions Call for Environmental Education and Action and Resolution on Supporting Congregations and Providing Guidance for Stewardship of God's Creation During the Coming Period of Declining Fossil Fuels at General Synod 25 in Atlanta, the Environmental and Energy Task Force (EETF) operates through Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM) to help provide resources, networking and guidance for environmental programming in the congregations and conferences of the United Church of Christ
EETF has issued The United Church of Christ: Toward a National Environmental Focus. Its subcommittee, the Energy and Climate Work Group, has issued The next 50 years: sustaining our faith and promoting Peace and justice while using resources wisely to care for creation. Both were reports prepared for General Synod 26 in Hartford in 2007.
In February 2009 a covenant was written between JWM and EETF's Organizing Work Group to further define the partnership of this dedicated team of individuals—environmental leaders across the nation—with the traditional environmental justice work of JWM
The Collegium of Officers issued a Pastoral Letter on Faith and Environment "And Indeed it is very Good" in April 2008 which invites us to offer prayer for care of the earth, and opens our hearts to seek compassionate actions that can be taken to alleviate the suffering of our fellow children (and creatures) of God. "
Pilgrim Firs Camp and Conference Center is one of the two camp and conference centers owned and operated by the Pacific Northwest Conference. It is available for the outdoor ministry and educational programs of the United Church of Christ as well as other church, civic and educational non-profit groups. Pilgrim Firs is a year-round camp and conference center on the Kitsap Peninsula of western Washington. This beautiful site includes 120 wooded acres of which 40 have been developed with cabins, lodges and outdoor recreation areas for guest use.
Pilgrim Firs is a multi-use facility offering a variety of settings for programs and activities. The site includes play and sports fields, a lake with canoeing and kayaking, and a floating dock for swimming. There are hiking trails, indoor and outdoor chapel/meditation spaces, two campfire areas, basketball and volleyball courts within the four acre play field and many secluded quiet places where you can enjoy this beautiful piece of God's creation. It is located 3 miles from the City of Port Orchard and about an hour and a half drive or relaxing ferry ride from downtown Seattle.
Pilgrim Firs is located at 3318 SW Lake Flora Road, Port Orchard, WA 98367
Option 1: From North of Tacoma (Seattle): Take I-5 south to the Highway 16, Bremerton exit
just past the Tacoma Dome. (This exit takes off at the same time as 38th street. Be sure you
are in the correct lane.)
Option 2: From South of Tacoma (Olympia): Take I-5 north to the Highway 16, Bremerton exit.
(This exit takes off at the same time as 38th street, watch the signs to be sure you are in the
On Highway 16 from Tacoma, follow Highway 16 for about 16 miles to the Sedgewick exit. Cross
back over the highway. You will come to a stoplight where Sedgewick and Sidney intersect.
Stay in the middle lane and go straight through the intersection. (Chevron on right, Albertsons
on left). Continue for about 2.9 miles until you see the Pilgrim Firs Signs. (Sedgewick changes
to Glenwood, then Lake Flora roads, do not turn.) We are on the left.
Option 3: From Fauntleroy-Southworth Ferry. As you leave the ferry, take the first left
(across from the store). This will turn into Highway 160 (Sedgewick Rd.). Follow this road for
about 10.4 miles. You will cross Highway 16, and go through 3 traffic lights near the highway.
Continue straight. After you cross the highway, Sedgewick will turn into Glenwood, then Lk.
Flora roads. Do not turn, continue Straight. Aprox. 2.9 miles.
Option 4: From Bremerton and north (Highway 3): Highway 3 turns into Highway 16 as you
pass through Gorst. Stay on Highway 16 until the Sedgewick exit. Take Sedgewick and turn
right (west). Follow Sedgewick (which turns into Glenwood then Lake Flora Rd.) for 2.9 miles,
continue going straight. Pilgrim Firs is on the left.
- At the Sedgewick / Sidney interchange, there is a Chevron station on your right, and an Albertsons on your left. Go straight through the intersection.
- Pilgrim Firs is 2.9 miles after you cross the Sedgewick / Sidney intersection, and 1.4 miles from where Glenwood Rd splits off to the south. (Do not turn on Glenwood!)
- There is a streetlight directly across the road from the entrance to Pilgrim Firs. It is the only
streetlight on Lake Flora Road. Our driveway is marked with a large sign.
The concept of racism involves a value judgment. Because this term is so inherently value-laden, most people tend to restrict their understanding of racism to easily identifiable individual racist acts. This approach fails to acknowledge the far reaching impact of institutional or systemic racism that result from decisions and policies made by established and well respected institutions within society. Such instances of racism are subtle and less identifiable.
It is important that we work to understand the intersections of racism and the many other justice issues we are concerned about. How does racism intersect with issues like poverty, voting rights or environmental justice? Through prayer and reflection we can learn to understand the issue of racial justice in a more holistic way.
*New* The Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery - A Biblical Reflection
Many Americans grow up learning that this continent was "discovered" by Christopher Columbus. The concept of discovery, as if the land was empty prior to arrival and its indigenous inhabitants were somehow "less than" the explorers is, at its heart, racism and cultural superiority against Native Americans. This concept derives its theological rationale from the Doctrine of Discovery, which becomes a legal foundation for U.S. policies regarding Native American communities even to the present today. For an introduction to the topic, see the video clip "Discovered, or Stolen?" To download the study, click HERE. For the history of the Doctrine of Discovery, see here for a 18-min. presentation by Dr. Roxanne Gould, All Nations Church UCC, Minneapolis, MN. See the same video (starting at the 18:40 mark) for Doctrine of Discovery and being a "pilgrim" today, a 10-min. meditation by the Rev. Emily Goldthwaite Fries.
Exploring the Intersections
To deepen the Sacred Conversation on Race and learn how race intersects with many justice issues, a FREE and new resource for congregational use - the "Race and ..." series is NOW available [click HERE for flyer].
These 2-page, easy-to-read fact sheets include stories, examples, prayer, Scriptures, reflection and engaging questions to assist local churches in connecting the dots between faith experience, racial justices and church life.
Click on the following links to download the "Race and ..." resources:
Police in riot gear, fire hoses and police dogs. These are some compelling images of what advocates faced when marching for the right to vote and an end to racial discrimination, in the streets of the 1950-60s Civil Rights Era. Today, the threats of voter suppression impacting communities of color remain real and present. (Read more.)
Race is an historical factor in economic inequity. With the end of official discrimination, many assume that the economic playing field had been leveled. But we are less aware that racial inequities persist in economic practices today. (Read more.)
In 1982, the state of North Carolina chose a poor, mainly African-American community, Warren County, as the site of a toxic waste landfill to dispose of PCBs illegally dumped along the roadway of 14 counties. The residents of Warren County, N.C., enlisted the support of the United Church of Christ (UCC) Commission for Racial Justice (CRJ) to reject this toxic landfill through a campaign of nonviolent
civil disobedience. (Read more.)
Public education inequity is overlaid on the many injustices in housing, the economy, labor, transportation and social welfare, as well as inequity in the criminal justice system. Schools where several kinds of inequities converge often struggle to raise test scores. These systems work together to deny educational opportunity for particular racial groups of students. (Read more.)
The U.S. incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country in the world. It holds a quarter of the world’s prisoners. One in every 32 adults in the U.S. is under justice system control in prison, or probation or on parole. Among the currently 2.3 million men, women and youth in prison, there are a disproportionate number of people of color. (Read more.)
“Because you’re an Arab.” That is the reason given to an Arab-American teacher in a Christian school by the principal, who told him that another teacher had been hired to replace him two days after the horrific 2001 terrorist attacks. More than 1000 incidents of hate crime and discrimination against Arab-Americans occurred in the first year after 9/11, according to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). (Read more.)
The intersections of race and women’s issues are numerous. The following are some examples of daily this daily reality.
Politcal Leadership - The recent election resulted in an all-time high of 20 women senators in the U.S. Congress. However, in this “Year of the Woman,” such new statistics actually reveals a racial bias in women’s access to power. The total absence of Black, Native American, and Latina women, except for Mazie Horono, a Japanese American from Hawaii, underlines the predominant White cultural norms in women’s leadership. (Read more.)
Statistics in June 2012 showed that people of color made up 36% of the labor force in the U.S. and 20% of business owners. These numbers correlate with census data that 28% of the general population are people of color. Yet, only about 4.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs are people of color. In 2012, less than 4% of the U.S. Congress were non-White Senators. Nonprofit organizations are guided by boards made up of roughly 15% people of color on the average, and headed predominantly by White executive directors. (Read more.)