Dear Fellow Disciple of Christ,
As we say goodbye to 2016 and move into the New Year your voice, thoughts and actions are more important than ever. Our religious convictions are being challenged daily and often we question “what is this world coming to?” as we witness words, attitudes and behaviors we never thought would occur during our lifetimes. We are facing challenges to immigration rights and enforcement, Affordable Health Care (Obama Care), voter rights, whose life matters, and the denigration of women and their rights. Discussions around some of these issues occurred during October’s 2016 Regional Assembly. The goal was to sensitize participants in a safe space around the issues of “Empowerment for Justice” while encouraging the continuation of these conversations.
The Anti-Racism/Pro-Reconciliation Commission of the Regional Church is suggesting that Ohio Disciples congregations continue the “justice” conversations in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and February’s observance of Black History month. Please support these observances by offering your congregation the opportunity to have safe conversations around injustices (not limited only to racism.)
Some suggestions for this activity are not limited to these cited:
- Facilitate small group conversations around your Christian witness and response to injustice; (Please click HERE for discussion questions, scripture passages and a bibliography)
- Pastors offering a sermon or a number of sermons around a theological framework of injustice;
- Discussion on how groups can affect change in policy issues local and state government and other subjects you choose.
These conversations should lead us to achieving the Disciples goal of welcoming everybody to the table and living out our first commandment, that we love one another.
After these sermons and conversations have taken place we are asking that you report to the Anti-Racism/Pro-Reconciliation Commission what took place during those conversation and what individual or congregational ministry action steps are planned as a result. Please know that the commission wants to hear from you and offer any assistance as you begin your congregation’s transformation. Whether your congregation is all one color or mixed these conversations are essential to us becoming what God wants us to be.
I thank you for your cooperation in making these observances happen in the life of your church.
Wishing You God’s Choice Blessings,
Anne C. Sowell
Co-Chair Anti-Racism/Pro-Reconciliation Commission
The Anti-Racism/Pro-Reconciliation Commission, in its ongoing work to fight racism and promote reconciliation, is reestablishing grant funding for churches and church related organizations in Ohio. These grants will be in the range of $1,000 to $5,000 and are intended to help initiate new and/or existing fund projects that target racism/bigotry or help to move organizations toward an anti-racism identity.
Grants will be awarded for one-year projects. Grants may be submitted at any time and are evaluated twice a year. Typically each congregation or organization is eligible for funding once in any 12-month period.
Complete grant policies and guidelines, as well as a simple application form, can downloaded by clicking on the links below.
The Anti-Racism / Pro-Reconciliation Commission is a ministry of the Christian Church in Ohio, a covenant network of congregations in mission. As an integral part of that covenantal network the mission of the Anti-Racism / Pro-Reconciliation Commission is to work to transform both the regional manifestation of the Christian Church in Ohio and its congregations into anti-racist organizations.
This commission will work to accomplish this mission through three initiatives:
- Examining and restructuring the Regional Board, Ministries, and Committees to become intentionally anti-racist.
- Continuing and expanding anti-racism training for all clergy, the Regional Board, regional staff, all commission and committee members, and other key lay leaders in congregations.
- Training and supporting congregations and congregational teams as they work to transform themselves into anti-racist organizations.
In addition the commission will hold itself and its individual members accountable both for the work that must be done and for serving as a model of an anti-racist organization for the region and beyond.
The purpose of this work is that the following vision and goals can one day become a reality:
The Christian Church in Ohio is a gospel-centered anti-racist community of faith where the gifts of its diverse people are welcomed, encouraged and celebrated. It is accountable to people of color. Positive transformation is institutionalized in our regional structure. Congregations are building reconciled relationships that are intentional about sharing power.
Goals: The Christian Church in Ohio and its congregations will meet the following goals in order to claim an anti-racist identity:
Analyzing: will have developed an analysis of systemic racism in the region and have obtained ownership of this analysis
Training: all clergy, the Regional Board, regional staff, all commission and committee members, and other key lay leaders in congregations will have participated in the one-day anti-racism training
Leadership Development: will have expanded the leadership on the Anti-Racism Team, all of whom have participated in the anti-racism analysis (Phase 1-3).
Deepening spiritual roots: will have a growing understanding that living the gospel message of Jesus Christ means claiming and embracing an anti-racist identity
Creating a community and culture of openness and trust: will have developed means of communication across institutionalized racial lines, especially helping white people to listen to and learn from people of color, thereby developing the ability to follow their leadership
Structuring accountability: the Anti-Racism Team will be a standing committee. The Anti-Racism Team will be accountable to and report to the Regional Board, the Regional Assembly, and communities of color
Institutionalizing financial support: the standing committee will have a line item in the regional budget
The region will be ready to commit to a process of intentional, institutional restructuring based upon anti-racist analysis and identity.