2020 Vision

At our Annual Meeting in June, Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon shared an exciting new strategic plan, “2020 Vision”, developed by staff and recently adopted by the Board of Directors.  This bold set of strategic objectives will be implemented by the year 2020.  We received a lot of wonderful feedback about these plans from Conference members at the Annual Meeting and since then.  We want to be sure we communicate our 2020 Vision to as many of you as possible, and invite you to consider where you and your congregation can engage in this important work.  Whether you are in a rural or metro setting, are a small church or large church, there is something here for you! You can view 2020 Vision HERE.
Today we begin a series of articles highlighting this work. Steve Boorsma, Associate Conference Minister, has information to share about the “White Privilege, let’s talk” curriculum.  The Conference is preparing to provide training on this curriculum in the coming months.

There is no escaping the reality that racial injustice continues to be a plague in society.  Conversations on race are often uncomfortable, if not frowned on, but there is much at stake if we give in to the temptation to avoid having these conversations.  The Minnesota Conference continues its commitment to dismantling racism through sacred conversation and action.  At the 2014 Annual Meeting the Minnesota Conference approved the resolution:  “Dismantling Racism and Creating Diversity in the Minnesota Conference.”

The full resolution is too long to post here, but it reads in part:

WHEREAS the historic legacy of systemic racism has created social, cultural and religious barriers that are an offense to the oneness God desires for us all. The historical legacy of racism has privileged and advantaged those who are white at great cost to people of color; including but far from limited to the following, theft of land, theft of labor, conflating Christianity with white culture enabling the negation of values, culture and religious traditions of people of color while supporting the supremacy of white culture, the creation of discriminatory laws and policies that exclusively benefit whites, the continued maintenance of institutions and institutional practices designed for the benefit of whites and unwelcoming to people of color.

In our continued commitment to these conversations, one of the Strategic Objectives that Rev. Shari Prestemon rolled out at Annual Meeting 2017 is:  “Engage at least 10 percent of our congregations in use of the UCC’s “White Privilege” Curriculum 2017-2019.  The term “privilege” is not without its controversy, which is why this curriculum is important.  As the 2014 resolution states:

WHEREAS following the Way of Jesus means living in a prophetic tradition committed to truth telling and confession, actively and intentionally working toward the day when all God’s Children will be fully included at the Great Banquet of God’s Realm, trusting that the seeds we plant today will yet bear fruit in the future.

The curriculum “White Privilege, let’s talk” does just that.  “It continues the sacred conversation that identifies racism not by labelling some people as good and others as bad.  Rather it is about looking at the ways power benefits some and not all based on the color of our skin” (Decorah UCC).  Rev. Ashley Harness, pastor at Lyndale UCC, Minneapolis said, “The (White Privilege) ‘Let’s Talk’ curriculum gave us the tools and freedom to do just that – talk about racial justice with our whole congregation involved.  It has changed the culture of our church.”  Rev. Eliot Howard, pastor of Linden Hills Congregation UCC, Minneapolis said that his church has also participated in a church wide study of the curriculum, stating that those who participated found it transformational and very meaningful, which prompted good conversations and some “eye- opening” moments.”

Rev. John Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president, writes: “This curriculum, written by five gifted authors with decades of experience teaching about race and privilege, is presented to enable such dialogue to take place at every level of the church.”  The UCC white privilege curriculum is divided into four key focus areas, each one introducing a different aspect of the dynamic of white privilege.  Each of the four sections in the guide will have material from all five authors, with every author contributing a different perspective to the subject matter.

Rev. Dorhauer encourages every one of the UCC’s more than 5,000 congregations to participate.  “In partnership with a Holy Spirit who envisions a future in which the United Church of Christ matters … I call all covenant settings to engage in a safe, meaningful, substantive, and bold conversation on privilege.”  You can find the downloadable curriculum at: http://privilege.uccpages.org/