Some Resources about Racial Justice



As a United Church of Christ we are called to be an anti-racist church.

The statement adopted by the 2003 general synod of the United Church of Christ is available here:



Some resources for learning more about racial justice issues:


Ta Nahisi Coates Atlantic article:  The Case for Reparations This article provides an historical survey of the impact of racism on the ability of slaves and their descendants to develop wealth and economic independence.


Understanding White Privilege begins with understanding the benefits we enjoy but do not earn. Peggy McIntosh’s article, The Invisible Knapsack helps to make that clear.


How Privileged Are You?  Buzz Feed Video with site to take test on line.

Eleven Major Misconceptions About Black Lives Matter  (You may need to copy and paste this into your browser.)

The Movement for Black Lives—A Vision for Black Lives Power, Freedom, and Justice


“The Social Construction of Difference”  by Allan G. Johnson


United Church of Christ information and resources on Racial Justice


Teaching Tolerance  (A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center):  “Test Yourself for Hidden Bias.”

A You Tube Video about taking the Implicit Association Test .


Anti-Defamation League:  “Personal Self-Assessment of Anti-Bias Behavior.”

Bibliography:  These are print resources compiled by theological educators for use in a variety of faith community settings.

Other Resources: a list of sources which are not books or long articles; primarily short videos available at Youtube or Vimeo.

Webinar on the Church, Reconciliation, and Reparations

Click here to watch Center for Progressive Renewal’s webinar with Dr. Jennifer Harvey on what to do in the face of our insufficient conversations about racial reconciliation.


Some resources for learning more about racial justice action:


Compass Point’s Tools, Frameworks and Resources to Challenge Racism


Chescaleigh: 5 Tips for Being an Ally


Franchesca Ramsey: 4 Black Lives Matter Myths Debunked | Decoded | MTV News

Jay Smooth: How to Tell Someone They SOUND Racist

UCC Disaster Ministries Supports Louisiana Flood Recovery


Parts of Louisiana received 30 inches of rain within three days in August, leaving 20 parishes in a state of emergency and stranding nearly 30,000 people. In all, over 12,000 needed to seek refuge in shelters, nearly a dozen died, and an estimated 40,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed in the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas.

UCC Disaster Ministries has been in contact with the South Central Conference of the UCC and has confirmed that no UCC congregations have been directly impacted. We continue to monitor the situation as it is unfolding and are well connected with the nation’s most trusted and reputable disaster response and recovery organizations through our National VOAD membership and work.

UCC Disaster Ministries ordered 1,000 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets for distribution by the Red Cross and other partners. But our primary role in disaster response is support for community-led long-term recovery.  We will be seeking volunteers to support these efforts in upcoming months and years. In the meantime:

  • Funding to support this work is needed now. Donations should be directed to the Emergency USA fund. Undesignated donations allow for funds to be used where needed most, but if individuals choose to do so, donations may be designated for LA Flood Recovery.
  • Work teams are needed urgently in South Carolina, which suffered devastating flooding in October 2015. Week-long assignments are available through October. Click here for more information and to volunteer.

Here is what anyone interested in helping Louisiana should know:

  • Cash is the most effective and efficient way to meet basic needs now and in recovery.
  • Don’t donate items unless you have received a specific request from an organization on the ground that can handle storage and distribution. Consider the cost of transportation vs. purchasing locally.
  • Don’t self-deploy. Only travel to the area if you’ve been trained and called upon by an organization requesting your physical presence.
  • Be patient. Begin to clear your calendar months from now and set aside time for serving to help repair/rebuild homes.
  • Give to a reputable organization.
  • Pray for the survivors and emergency personnel.

Peace Quest 2016

The week will kick off on Sunday, September 18 with a variety of events, including a peace march for people of all ages, nationalities and faiths.PEACE QUEST 2016 will conclude on Sunday, September 25 with The Concert Across America organized by Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, and will be held on Sunday, September 25. A variety of other events, including lectures, films, music, an art contest, sporting events, and a voter registration drive will be held throughout the week. Greater Lansing United Nations Association, Peace Education Center, and Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence are working with houses of worship, schools and other nonprofit organizations to organize these activities which will emphasize the importance of peace to all.

Please encourage your members’ involvement in PEACE QUEST 2016—starting with walking together at the Peace March on September 18. You might also consider having a display table or hosting a peace activity at this event, “co-sponsoring” PEACE QUEST 2016 by donating $100 or more, or planning a peace-related event of your own. If you would like to learn more or become involved with the planning for PEACE QUEST 2016, please contact Lynn Bartley at or 517-281-9378; Terry Link or 517-775-2910; or Jim Detjen at jamesdetjen@gmail.comor 517-349-7360. Please check the Events tab at for more information and updates.

Working together for peace,

The PEACE QUEST 2016 Planning Team

Greater Lansing United Nations Association, Peace Education Center, Haslett High School Model UN Club, Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, the Islamic Center of Greater Lansing, Shalom Center for Justice and Peace, and MSU Student Housing Cooperative

United Church of Christ Disaster Relief Report

May 2016

Michigan UCC newsletter

Updates from our recent conference call with other disaster coordinators around the country:

The flooding that occurred in Louisiana and Texas in early March is being compared to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, but without the media attention. Torrential rains of as much as 20 inches in 48 hours fell in Louisiana, hitting 30 mostly rural parishes. These are parishes that were not prepared for flooding of this magnitude, neither were the residents expected to need, nor require flood insurance.While there are few UCC churches in the area, the disaster response is beginning, with a conference disaster coordinator from Pennsylvania (Karl Jones) spearheading longterm recovery. Expect to hear more about work opportunities in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi in the coming months.

There is ongoing recovery work in South Carolina that is desperate need for volunteers to do the recovery work in May and June 2016. is the website to get informed and get registered for any of the project locations that we mention.

Flooding in Texas in 2015 inundated numerous homes east of Austin, with more than fifty homes waiting for volunteers and funding to get people back into their homes. You know the website to help, right?

Flooding in West Virginia last year damaged or swept away about 300 bridges that homeowners used to access their homes from the main roads. These privately owned bridges are vital connections but aren’t being replaced by WV government. Replacement bridges have been engineered and are being constructed and installed by volunteers. Three have been completed, three more underway. Volunteers and funding are needed to close the gap. Here’s more:

Lastly, in the US, a pilot project called Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI), a collaborative partnering the UCC, the Disciples of Christ, and the Church of the Brethren is underway in disaster response in South Carolina focused on long term recovery group (LTRG) formation. The partners are each hiring one person, to create a three person team to expedite forming LTRG’s.

Funding for all of these projects are made possible through your generous donations by way of the One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS). 100% of the OGHS funds go to help people in need here in the US, and abroad. All of the administrative costs are covered by your generous support of Our Church’s Wider Mission, and we are very grateful for your continuing support.

International responses that we think you should be aware:

Fiji – Category five Cyclone Winston heavily impacted homes and structures, especially food crops. Our UCC has provided several months of food to affected areas.

Nepal – Over $400,000 has been raised to construct replacement homes, and work is underway in partnership with the Fuller Center for Housing. More funding is needed to meet the long term needs for safe, sanitary and secure housing in this mountainous country.

The Philippines were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan (aka Super Typhoon Yolanda). This typhoon was the most severe storm to make landfall in human history in 2013, and work continues to be done with the assistance of the UCC. Fifty more homes and a water supply will be completed in 2016.

And finally, unless you received your news from outside the US, you are unaware of the worst drought in a half-century in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. The combination of climate change and El Niño are contributing to the drought, and global humanitarian relief organizations are already strained by conflicts in Syria, South Sudan and Yemen.

A recent national study found the congregations were very good, perhaps uniquely good, at organizing small groups of volunteers to carry out well-defined tasks on a periodic basis. To make a strong mud brick, one needs both mud and straw.

The lack of either makes a weak and crumbly brick. Successful disaster ministry requires both volunteers and funding. The lack of either makes for a slow and frustrating response. Be it Flint, Fiji, or the Philippines, you can learn more about how you can be involved in disaster response by going to the UCC website for Disaster Ministries:

One of the best sources for information on the ongoing crisis in Flint, including the water crisis, is that of our sisters and brothers at Woodside Church:

Marcia and I have been leading the middle school and high school youth at Edgewood United Church in learning about the crisis in Flint. We are developing lesson plans and a curriculum that we are glad to share. It’s a multiple week curriculum, please contact us by email and we will respond.

Contact us via email: Harold Beer or Marcia Beer Next month: Preparing for your first disaster ministry trip.

How water shortages threaten jobs and growth across the world

Three out of four jobs globally are dependent on water – which means shortages and limited access may limit economic growth in the future.

  • Bruno Kelly/Reuters/File

An estimated three out of four jobs globally are dependent on water, meaning that shortages and lack of access are likely to limit economic growth in the coming decades, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

About 1.5 billion people – half the world’s workers – are employed in industries heavily dependent on water, most of them in farming, fisheries and forestry, the U.N. World Water Development Report 2016 said.

“There is a direct effect on jobs worldwide if there are disruptions in water supply through natural causes, such as droughts, or if water doesn’t get to communities because of infrastructure problems,” said Richard Connor, the report’s editor-in-chief.

Research has shown investment in small-scale projects providing access to safe water and basic sanitation in Africa could offer a return equivalent to almost 5 percent of the continent’s economic output, the report said.

In the United States, every $1 million invested in the country’s water supply and treatment infrastructure generates between 10 and 20 additional jobs, according to the report.

“Whether it’s a water treatment facility or a system to bring water to fields to irrigate, you’re not just funding that project,” Connor told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“You’re creating a multiplier effect: jobs are being created because water becomes available.”

Fleur Anderson, global head of campaigns at charity Water Aid, said the high cost of water in many developing countries also affects jobs and economic choices.

In Papua New Guinea, for example, poor people have to spend 54 percent of their day’s earnings to buy 50 liters of water, the amount the World Health Organization says a person needs every day for domestic use and to maintain health and hygiene.

This compares with as little as 0.1 percent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage in Britain.

“It means countries are not getting the economic benefits of their working population because people are spending so much of their money on water,” Anderson said.


Demand for water is expected to increase by 2050 as the world’s population is forecast to grow by one-third to more than 9 billion, according to the United Nations.

This in turn will lead to a 70 percent increase in demand for food, putting more pressure on water through farming, which is already the biggest consumer of water.

As climate change contributes to rising sea levels and extreme weather, at least one in four people will live in a country with chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water by 2050, the United Nations estimates, making it more important to focus on expanding rainwater harvesting and recycling wastewater.

Connor said funding for projects was still often based on “investment in pumps and pipes” rather than a more holistic view, taking into account water’s key role in building a sustainable economy as part of the new global development goals.

More investment in renewable energy such as solar and wind, which use very little water, is also crucial in reducing demand for water, Connor said.

This story comes from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit to see more stories.

Here’s to Flint: Documentary on Flint Water Crisis

Here’s To Flint: Documentary on Flint Water Crisis

The ACLU of Michigan documentary “Here’s To Flint” is a searing examination of the origins of the Flint water crisis and the determined efforts of Flint residents, activists and researchers to learn the truth about the city’s lead-contaminated drinking water.

Based on the work of ACLU of Michigan investigative reporter Curt Guyette, “Here’s To Flint” is an exhaustive probe into how the city was left exposed to lead-tainted drinking water for nearly two years. Featuring in-depth testimonials from Flint residents, activists, and experts talking about their struggles to expose the truth despite government denials, the documentary underscores just how vital it is that citizens be able to hold their leaders accountable.

Safe, Affordable, Life-Sustaining Water for All

Safe, Affordable, Life-Sustaining Water for All A Resolution Update by the Prophetic Integrity Mission Area Team What We Can Do to Help in the Detroit/Flint Water Crises

At the October 2014 Annual Meeting of the Michigan Conference, delegates adopted a resolution entitled: Safe, Affordable, Life-Sustaining Water for All. In light of the water crises in our “Great Lakes State,” including water shut-offs in Detroit and lead-poisoned water in Flint, PI-MAT wanted to provide this update and call to action to our Michigan Conference church members.

This update is guided by these words from the original resolution: “Water is the Gift of Life and that which sustains all Life. No one can live without water. To deny access to water is to deny access to Life in that place. What was freely given by God as something essential to Life should not be commoditized. Water is part of the Commons, an essential resource for our common life together.”

Although the Flint Lead-Poisoning water catastrophe has now been well publicized, there are still many ways we can all help. Instead of sending more bottled water to Flint, our UCC congregation there, Woodside Church, is asking us to help in raising funds for a point-of-entry water filtration system. Woodside and other churches in neighborhoods throughout the city will be filtered so that Flint residents can fill their water containers with safe, lead-free water without charge. Donation checks can be mailed to Woodside Church, 1509 Court Street, Flint, MI 48503 with a notation for “Flint Water Crisis.” For more updates, check out the Woodside website:

You can also go to the United Church of Christ website: and look for, “Three Things You Can Do for Flint.” There are additional links to articles on the connection between the water crisis and environmental racism.

In Detroit, where it is estimated there may be as many as 100,000 children and adults completely shut-off from life-sustaining water, donations of water are still needed (preferably in large, re-usable jugs). Donations can be delivered to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 1950 Trumbull Avenue, Detroit (across from the old Tiger Stadium). Please call Lindsay: 949-293-8267 or Tommy: 949-842-9503 prior to delivery. Trinity-St. Mark’s UCC, 9315 Fort St, Detroit, is acting as a secondary collection site.

The 2014 resolution calls for advocacy with State and Federal officials who play a role in helping to provide potable water. If you would like to pursue such advocacy, please contact your Congressional and State Legislators and ask them to support and quickly pass legislation that will help repair damaged water supply infrastructure and enhances the access rights of all persons to safe and affordable life-sustaining water.

In Michigan, please contact the Michigan House Speaker, Kevin Cotter, at:, or 517-373-1789, and the Chair of the House Committee on Local Government, Lee Chatfield, at:, or 517-373-2629, and encourage them to act on a series of 11 bi-partisan bills introduced in the Michigan Legislature last summer.

These bills would improve access to safe, affordable water for all Michigan residents. Water is a justice issue. May our work help to let justice flow down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Members of Prophetic Integrity Mission Area Team and Campbell Lovett, Conference Minister For more information, consider attending this conference: Michigan’s Municipal Water Infrastructure: Public Policy Choices and Issues Conference. March 22, 2016, 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Lansing Convention Center, 333 East Michigan Avenue, Lansing, Michigan.

Sponsored by a consortium of universities with the hope of bringing a voice of academic research and analysis to the topic of municipal water policy in the state – particularly relevant in the face of the crisis in Flint. For more information contact Mary Schulz,

Race Is in the Air We Breathe and the Water We Drink: The Moral Failure in Flint

01/28/2016 05:48 pm ET | Updated Jan 29, 2016
Jim Wallis
Christian leader for social change; President and Founder @Sojourners

How would you feel if you realized your children’s water was being poisoned, and your government didn’t seem to care? That’s the story of the parents of 8,000 mostly poor and black children in Flint, Mich., (which means most all of the children in urban Flint) that has finally hit our media front pages. The evening news I am watching as I write warns the parents of Flint not to bathe their young children in city water.

But the fact that most Americans realize this would never happen in affluent white Michigan suburbs (or any other white affluent communities in our country), still doesn’t penetrate our very souls. This fundamental contrast between black and white experiences in Michigan, just north of my hometown of Detroit, points to the structural racism that is still the primary moral contradiction of American life. The news about Flint is just the most recent consequence of America’s Original Sin, the title of the new book we have just launched.

The poisoning of the majority-black population of the city is a product of a system failing the people of Flint on many levels over a long period of time. To really start unpacking the historical roots of the crisis, you have to go back to slavery itself, which debased the humanity and devalued the lives of black people from well before our nation’s founding; followed by the Jim Crow era of legal segregation, discrimination, and violence against black Americans, which resulted in early 20th century migrations of black people from the segregated south to urban manufacturing centers of the northern United States. When they got there, they found cities without legal segregation, yet with de facto segregation and discrimination alive and well in both white attitudes and systems. The arrival and growth of black populations in northern cities was followed shortly thereafter by white flight to the suburbs, aided by discriminatory housing policies that effectively prevented the vast majority of black people from joining them and blocked the financing of black homes even in the cities.

As manufacturing jobs left cities like Detroit and Flint over the years, unemployment soared, property values declined, and the people who remained found themselves trapped in poverty in cities whose tax revenue was eclipsed by the services these cities are responsible for providing for their citizens. The result? Drastically inferior employment prospects, inferior education, both leading to higher crime, and inferior health outcomes for people of color in many urban centers across the country. Racial ghettos, it must be said and understood, have never been an accident, but are the results of public policy. This is a necessarily short but accurate explanation for a very complex confluence of systems that together represent structural racism. In my new book, I explain in greater depth how some of this came to be, the history behind it, and the moral challenge it presents especially to people of faith.

So what does all of this have to do with Flint being poisoned? Well, in 2012, the state of Michigan, under the leadership of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, passed a law giving the state expanded powers to appoint emergency managers to step in and run cities, towns, and school systems dealing with financial crises. That law was then invoked in several cities across the state, including Detroit and Flint.

In April of 2014, Flint’s emergency town manager decided that rather than renew a contract with Detroit to continue receiving drinking water from Detroit’s system, Flint would instead draw water from the Flint River, a measure that it was thought would save the town $5 million. Not long afterward, residents began noticing their water looked, smelled, and tasted funny. People were getting rashes, and they were concerned about bacteria. The city government had to issue periodic “boil water” advisories to residents because of the bacteria. The water was treated to eliminate the bacteria, but the larger problem remained undetected.

The major issue with Flint River water, it turns out, is that it is corrosive, especially to old piping systems, to the point that lead was leaching into Flint’s water supply from April 2014 to October 2015, when the city finally reconnected to Detroit water after the revelations about lead levels came to light. The long-term damage done to the health of residents, especially to the brains and crucial development of children, is painfully incalculable — and it will take many years before we fully know the impact. What we do know is that at several points during 2014 and 2015, concerns were raised about the quality of the water, and because of Flint’s status as a town in emergency receivership of the state, because of mistakes and/or neglect by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency, and because of a seeming lack of urgency from the governor’s office or Flint’s succession of governor-appointed emergency managers, lead-poisoned water continued to flow from Flint’s taps for more than a year. To put it simply, figuring out the problem of Flint’s water was not a priority for the governments responsible for protecting Flint’s people.

As parents, we would never want to put up with discolored, funny-smelling, bad-tasting water for our kids. Government at all levels is expected to ensure our air is safe to breathe and our water safe to drink. It’s one of the reasons we pay taxes, and it’s become part of the social contract. However, in areas where generational poverty and municipal fiscal instability are realities, it is disproportionately poor people of color who bear the health impacts of things like old pipes, corrosive water, lead paint, bad schools, and so many other issues. The fact that the city is poor, is mostly black, and had an unelected town manager making cost-cutting decisions regardless of the will of its people paints a grim but not unfamiliar picture.

Again, we all know instinctively that if an issue of water quality came up in a mostly white, mostly affluent suburb anywhere in this country, it would be dealt with swiftly and decisively. But we now know that was not the result for the majority black and poor population of Flint. This contrast is a fundamental moral issue. The fact that we all on some level know these facts and many white Americans tacitly accept them, must become unacceptable to all of us. The issues that gave rise to this particular crisis may be complicated, but this simple truth is not.

So the answer of white Americans to the facts of racism must no longer be, “But I am not a racist.” If we are oblivious to the racism still in our social systems, we can’t deny our complicity with it. The best answer to continual denials from white Americans of being a racist is this: Racism is in the air that we breathe and the water we drink. So let’s change the water — and the air.

Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His book, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, is available now.

Follow Jim Wallis on Twitter:

Flint Water Emergency

Rev. Debra Conrad, Woodside Church, Flint, Mi.  A dynamic place, Woodside is a multicultural congregation in partnership with two exciting denominations – The United Church of Christ and the American Baptist Churches.

You may have heard we have some issues here. While we work on getting safe and affordable water to all the residents of the city, it is also critical that people of faith have a clear understanding of how this could happen, so that we can agitate, Jesus-style, for better public policies and a greater regard for the common good.


  1. Send donations of money to Woodside, marked “water.” We are working to set up “re-filling stations” in our church, to make free, filtered water available to the community in whatever size containers they would like. Send contributions to: Woodside Church, 1509 E Court St, Flint MI 48503.
  2. Volunteer. Woodside’s partner activists and organizers are working especially to ensure that the most marginalized populations are getting services — the poorest, the ones in public housing, those who may lack proper documentation, those who speak something other than English. The ones most likely to fall through the gaps. There is a particular need for folks able to speak Arabic andSpanish. This form will let our partner organizations (primarily the Flint Democracy Defense League) know you’re available and keep you aware of the ongoing activities.
  3. Read, learn and share information. Form book groups. Print excerpts in newsletters (always credit the author). Discern how you can respond as advocates of the gospel. Below is a starting point. Some are short enough for a Sunday morning forum; others are full-length books, well worth your time.
  4. Be aware of your own privilege. (A really good approach for whatever situation you want to help with.)
    1. Please email (rather than phone) your willingness to help, and be patient if we don’t respond quickly enough.
    2. People in Flint are going through a lot, emotionally as well as logistically. We’re angry, confused, frustrated, hopeful, exhausted. Sometimes we simply cannot muster gratitude as well. Please believe that we appreciate being in community, and give us a break when we don’t say thanks. Thanks.
    3. Please don’t just show up and ask us to re-arrange our days to accommodate you.
    4. Please don’t send us things we didn’t ask for and can’t use. Money is easiest, because it lets us respond to the ever-shifting reality here. Choose a church or charity you trust, and send them as much money as you can.
    5. Please don’t put conditions on your gifts.
    6. Please don’t judge our ideas or contradict our requests. We are in constant communication with folks who know, and we are pretty sure we have a handle on what is needed.
  5. Consider the difference between justice and charity. Charity is about donations (like water and money), but justice is about building relationships, hearing the voices from the community, and changing the systems that got us into this in the first place. Which leads us to…
  6. Advocate. Government officials have been incredibly slow to act.
    1. We need water that doesn’t come in single bottles! The World Health Organization estimates 100-200 liters per person per day is required for health and well-being. We need dozens of tanker trucks combing the neighborhoods, allowing residents to refill 1-, 2- and 5-gallon bottles. Tell leaders to send “water buffaloes” sufficient to hydrate and sanitize this city.
    2. We need people to staff distribution centers and field phone calls. Tell leaders that chunks of that emergency money should be used to hire unemployed Flint residents to do these vitals tasks.
    3. We need new infrastructure. While the expert we trust (Dr. Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech) tells us that we have to rehabilitate the water before we replace the pipes, we know there are things to be done in the meantime, like organizing 45,000 index cards that show us where the lead pipes may be. Tell leaders to stop wasting time and start making real preparation for placing new pipes. And don’t forget to mention that they should hire and train local residents for these long-term projects.
    4. Vote, and let your elected officials know that you’re basing your ballot on a renewed commitment to the Common Good!