Editor's note: While Conference Minister & President Jim Antal is on sabbatical, senior staff are rotating as "Conference Minister in charge" between now and mid-October. Wendy Vander Hart is currently acting as Conference Minister.
Yesterday, in my weekly office hours at Panera, I was meeting with a pastor who is new to the Conference. In the course of conversation about his on-boarding process he told me about his first sermon at First Church. In it he reminded the congregation of their roots, shared by many of our churches, about a town being born, a community formed, only because it started a church. Then he challenged them to reclaim that history by being a church that still gives birth to transformative community. As I listened, it harkened back to a session our Conference Board of Directors had with Cameron Trimble, the founder and CEO of the Center for Progressive Renewal. She dared our Board to challenge our churches and settings for ministry to be the places where towns and communities would praise God, or at least be grateful, that there was a United Church of Christ because it made for a better place to live.
In the wake of yet more shootings that raise awareness of the racial divide in our country AND with a significant source of that strife stemming from white privilege, what can our churches do? How can we be that transformative community that Jesus calls us to be and for which residents might rejoice?
Kelly Gallagher thankfully encouraged us to pray about what we might “do,” instead of “say” in these days. With the constituents of most of our churches being predominantly white, there is a clear opportunity before us. The national UCC has created a curriculum entitled “White Privilege: Let's Talk.” For myself I would add a word and title it “Ending White Privilege,” but nevertheless, we have a ready resource to use in our communities and begin transformative doing.
Here is my invitation to you members, friends and leaders in the churches - make a pledge today to bring this curriculum to your church or setting for ministry. Personally invite your town or city leaders, fellow staff, friends and neighbors to join you in engaging it. Once you have completed it, let us know so that we can report our collective progress and shape the next thing we collectively can DO in this marathon race set before us. To make this pledge click here and may God indeed shape us into the people that make our communities grateful for the ways we make God’s love and justice real.
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