Navigating our own racism and addressing issues of racial injustice

Navigating our own racism and addressing issues of racial injustice

I simply can't believe that we have moved into October already - where did September go? And how quickly the seasons shift and change, the leaves change, the temperature takes a dive, and we move into another season...

On Saturday, October 1st, the RI Conference Board of Directors participated in an all-day racial justice training with leadership provided by MA Conference Associate Conference Minister, The Rev. Don Remick, and our own RI Conference Board member, Jametta Alston. Over a year ago now the RI Board committed to address the challenges of racial justice within each of us and in our Conference and country. The Board encouraged and supported facilitator training for five of our RI pastors as well as committing to participate in a day of training for themselves. This is not easy work to do. The day's training sparked many emotions as well as much fruitful conversation for all of us. A number of our churches throughout the Conference have also begun leaning into the realities of racism and white privilege accompanied by teams of RI facilitators - for adults as well as for youth and confirmation classes. If you are interested in having a team come to your church (or churches) for such a training, please be in touch with the Conference office.
In another month, on Saturday, November 5th the RI Conference will hold its Autumnal Meeting at Beneficent Congregational UCC in Providence. The focus for this event will be to "wade into" an examination of white privilege.   As one of our RI pastors wrote in a recent newsletter article:

 "In recent years, the focus on racial issues in our country is unavoidable, but many of us have a lot of discomfort while trying to understand this complex issue. Frankly if you are white it is easier to avoid or dismiss the issue, but doing so is falling short of loving our brothers and sisters of color. Many of our members are people of color who may be grateful that this topic is being openly engaged. The hard question is - how do we do better in such a sensitive area of life when we have been taught so many conflicting things over the years? ... None of us will come away from the meeting with a full understanding of the complexity of racism, but all of us will come away with something. Maybe you will be better able to talk about race because you are a bit more comfortable. Perhaps you will better understand the nightly news reports of violence and unrest in places like Charlotte, NC. At the very least, you will come home with a feeling of participating in a very important conversation that affects the lives of people you love and our local church."
- The Rev. Amy Frenze, pastor at Hope Congregational UCC, East Providence

So, yes, this is a plug to encourage you to register soon for the RI Conference Autumnal meeting on Saturday, November 5, 2016. Any and all are welcome to attend this gathering. Come spend a few hours with other UCC folks from across RI who also want to better understand how to navigate our own racism and to address issues of racial injustice.
I also want to take this opportunity to applaud those that have responded so far to the Friends of the Conference appeal letter that may have come into your mailbox (snail mail) in recent weeks. This appeal comes from Susan Rotblat-Walker (VP for Stewardship of the RI Conference Board), Rev. Dr. George Peters (President of the Conference Board) and me (Interim Conference Minister) to help support the ongoing ministry of this Conference. This Friends of the Conference appeal has already brought in nearly $4,000.00 and we are very grateful!   Won't you join those who have already donated? As the appeal letter stated so well, "we need your financial support to sustain and energize the vital ministries of the Conference."

Your generous support of this Conference can be made by sending a check to:
Rhode Island Conference United Church of Christ
8 Summer Street
Pawtucket, RI 02860
You may set up a recurring gift at the Conference website at
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