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UCCNY Votes to Affirm Anti-Racism Resolution

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

June 13, 2018

On June 9th, the New York Conference Annual Meeting voted in favor of the resolution entitled: "A Resolution of Response to Syracuse University And New York Conference Anti-Racism Affirmation." You may read the text of the resolution here.

Delegates present engaged in a robust conversation almost exclusively in support of the direction of the resolution. We debated whether the wording "anti-racist" or "anti-racism" should be used. The consensus of the delegates is that while the actions of racists and white supremacists are appalling, the Christian faith guides us to hate the sin and not the sinner. Therefore, the wording throughout the document reflects our commitment to work toward ending racism.

The call for a "White Audit" was also discussed on the floor of the Annual Meeting as well as by the Conference Board of Directors prior to the plenary discussion. The Conference Board will take the lead by conducting a "White Audit" of our conference actions, practices, facilities, and policies. The resolution calls for congregations to do so also. Several commented that it is unlikely that any church would or could remove stain glass windows depicting the Middle Eastern historical Jesus as a Euro-white man. However, adding a plaque in our congregations that declares that "the artwork in our church buildings do not accurately depict our understanding of the ethnicity of Jesus" is not difficult.

As with any resolution that emanates from the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, a resolution approved by a Conference Annual Meeting also speaks TO our congregations and not ON BEHALF of them. In the United Church of Christ, we understand that each setting of the church is autonomous meaning it accepts is own responsibility to be a faithful expression of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This resolution from the Conference Annual Meeting calls upon local congregations to examine that responsibility and determine its own faithful response. Living in covenant means that each setting of the church will faithfully listen and consider what the other settings are saying about living the Gospel witness faithfully.

The challenge goal of $10,000 for our anti-racism program, New and Right Spirit, was achieved at the Annual Meeting, and I lived up to my promise to be boldly bald to fight racism. With these funds, we will expand our pool of conversation facilitators and more easily deploy them around the state of New York, and potentially beyond New York. The vision of New and Right Spirit has been one that facilitates safe conversations on the reality of racism and white privilege without soliciting guilt of defensive posturing. The goal is honest conversation where all voices can be heard. A further goal is to move our conversations beyond our church halls and into our communities: ecumenical and inter-faith gatherings, schools, community centers, etc. We are ready to do this. As the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "The time is always right to do what is right." This is the right time.

David R Gaewski
Conference Minister

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