We are a congregation committed to pro-active anti-racism –
seeking with God’s help to be a force for the elimination of racism and white privilege.
Adopted by Congregational Consensus
Since 2008 the congregation of the First Congregational Church in Amherst, Massachusetts, UCC has studied, prayed, talked, listened, reflected about, and publicly witnessed to, our rejection of racism. We have sought to become a pro-active, anti-racism congregation. Led by our Anti-Racism Ministry Team, we have actively supported the congregation and the surrounding community to learn more about, and work to dismantle, racism and white privilege. Rejecting racism is a critical part of our church mission and included in the covenants we have adopted. We seek, with God’s help, to be a force for the elimination of racism and white privilege.
Our activities have included:
- Sacred conversations
- Transformative learning sessions
- Worship services
- Films and videos
- Coming to consensus on a public statement of commitment to anti-racism [See below]
- Proclaiming our commitment with banners on the church and Black Lives Matter signs on some of our lawns
- E-mail alerts re: opportunities to take action against racism
- Revising our investment policies to include pro-active anti-racism
- Developing handouts on “What Can We Do to Help Dismantle Racism” [See below] and other topics for our congregation and for our wider community
- Distributing buttons at public events: “Black Lives Matter” and “Supporting Our Muslim Brothers and Sisters”
- Publishing a book of our collected stories of experiences with race
- Supporting each other to develop skills in initiating conversations about racism with other people, and in interrupting racist comments and actions
- Creating a town-wide, multi-faith and secular, public education and action project, “Coming Together: Understanding Racism, Working for Justice & Building Connections”. The project has an independent steering committee of community members drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences.
These efforts have impacted our own congregation decisively and reached many hundreds of our larger community members, supporting a rich dialogue on the presence of racism in our midst.
Contact Person: Russ Vernon-Jones
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
What Can We Do to Help Dismantle Racism?
Click the link below to view the PDF.
Commitment and Perspectives on Race and Racism
We commit ourselves both personally and collectively to helping to eliminate both personal and systemic/institutional racism through such steps as:
- Learning about race, racism, whiteness, white privilege, and anti-racism
- Building relationships with people of both similar and different racial backgrounds to our own
- Examining our institutional practices and changing them, where indicated
- Public and interpersonal witness for racial justice
- Healing ourselves and others from the hurts/effects of racism
- Taking other action as instruments of God’s love and justice, always seeking to be guided by the Spirit
- all on an ongoing basis.
We believe that all human beings are children of God. We value the diversity of the human family and we affirm the oneness and equality of all humanity. We believe that we are called to be instruments of justice and love, removing the walls that divide us and the structures of oppression.
We recognize that there are both systemic/institutional and personal aspects to racism as it exists in our society and in us today. We recognize that benefits, access and privileges are systematically conferred on white people and denied to people of color; that people of color are systematically disadvantaged, discriminated against and oppressed; that all of us are conditioned to false ideas and to attitudes and feelings that obscure our inherent goodness and unity; and that all of us are dehumanized and separated by the blight of racism. We all need to heal from these hurts. While we are not to blame for the history of racial injustice, we are responsible for helping to dismantle institutional/systemic racism and white privilege.
We affirm our debt and gratitude to all those who have gone before us, including many in our own denomination and congregation, who have left us a legacy of courage, faithfulness, determination, and insight in pursuing racial justice. We approach this humbly, knowing that we have a great deal to learn. We seek to be actively welcoming to all people, and in particular, to people of all racial backgrounds. We seek a prayerful openness to the truth, even when that truth may be unclear or uncomfortable. We will endeavor to act on this commitment with hope, mutual respect, patience, love, and a willingness to change.
We seek to work together to be actively anti-racist in all aspects of the life and culture of the congregation: in our worship and spiritual practices; in our adult and children’s transformative learning opportunities; in our mission giving; in our purchases, investment and business practices; and in our ministries of outreach and action. We seek to learn how to more effectively and more publicly bear witness to God’s love and the call for racial justice, both collectively as a congregation and as individuals. We seek to expand our relationships to include a greater diversity of God’s children, and to care for each other as we learn to create, and practice living in, a society of diversity and inclusiveness.
We know that the call for justice is a call to heal ourselves, to support the healing of others, and to repair the world, and that this is made possible through the love of God.
(Adopted by consensus at the Annual Meeting, February 2010.)