Racial justice training for all active ministry personnel was mandated at the 39th General Council 2006. The proposal came out of a long history of the United Church's engagement with issues of social justice. In 2000, the United Church adopted its Anti-Racism Policy statement; racial justice training is one effort to help the church continue to live out its principles.
Working toward racial justice in church and society is a life-long "heart" journey. We are all—people of every colour and cultural background—touched by the sin of racism, although in different ways. Together we must continue to learn from each other, with each other, and with the Spirit, so that we continue to break down barriers and build right relationship and just institutions.
Because we need to work together for racial justice within our church and because we believe that we are a "whole people of God" with a "priesthood of all believers," racial justice workshops are open to both lay people and ministry personnel.
These workshops will offer an overview of the work of racial justice and are one step on the journey. The purpose of the racial justice workshops is threefold:
- to engage in self-examination around privilege and internalized racism (superiority and inferiority)
- to engage in analysis of the systemic nature of racism within the church and wider society
- to offer tools for leaders to begin or continue the work of racial justice in local ministry contexts
Workshops will have periods for individual reflection, small group work, and large group discussion. Participants will be encouraged to deepen their learning journeys outside of the workshops.
An online workshop has been developed. Workshops will simulate the experience of a face-to-face workshop using a telephone conference call service that allows participants to move in and out of break-out groups. A PowerPoint presentation will be available online. Participants will need to have access to a telephone and high-speed Internet simultaneously to be a part of the process.
The additional resources below are available for anyone interested in exploring anti-racism and racial justice work within the church—for personal reflection; for small group study and action; or other options.
Excerpts from We Belong: Celebrating Cultural Diversity and Living Hospitality(Baptist Union of Great Britain, The United Reformed Church, 2006). Used with permission.
Excerpts from That All May Be One: A Resource for Educating toward Racial Justice (The United Church of Canada, 2004). Used with permissions as specified.
Further information and online registration are now available at the United in Learning continuing education website.
Elected commissioners (ministry personnel and lay people) at the 39th General Council 2006 passed a motion to "develop and implement mandatory training in racial justice for all ministry personnel." General Council Office staff have been charged with developing and implementing these racial justice workshops.
In keeping with The United Church of Canada's polity, presbyteries have been asked to decide how they will implement the "mandatory" nature of the proposal that was passed at the 39th General Council 2006. Presbytery is the court of the church with the authority of oversight and discipline of ministry personnel, so it falls to the members of presbytery (lay and ministry personnel) to determine what constitutes fulfillment of this mandate.
Many ecumenical resources address anti-racism work:
- Mennonite Central Committee (U.S. and Canada), Anti-Racism Program
- Anglican Church of Canada, A Charter for Racial Justice
- World Council of Churches, Being church and overcoming racism:
It's time for transformative justice
- Uniting Church of Australia, Multicultural and Cross-Cultural Ministry
- United Church of Christ (USA), Sacred Conversations on Race
- Christian Reformed Church in North America, Race Relations
- Episcopal Church (USA), Anti-Racism and Gender Equality
For more information, please contact