Racial/Ethnic Relations Program updates

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"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Our Mission

"Develop and implement strategies for education within the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) that challenge racial/ethnic constituencies of the church to engage as full participants in God's mission and broaden their understanding of God's mission as local, regional, national and international; reach persons who are in the process of making career decisions and; create a dialogical climate in which perspectives of persons of color are shared and appreciated; concentrate primarily on local congregations, seminaries, colleges and universities, and secondarily on special caucuses/interest groups, conferences and regions." (As stated in the position description for the Executive)

A. Youth Against Social Injustice (YASI)

YASI is a direct outgrowth of the joint Disciples/UCC youth and young adult participation in the United Nations World Conference Against Racism. YASI to; 1) inform the Disciples and UCC youth and young adults concerning the declaration and program of action adopted by the governments and Non-Government Organizations NGOs at the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance (WCAR) in Durban, South Africa; 2). to engender a critical understanding and invite constituencies to consider how God calls the church to combat racism and other forms of discrimination; and 3). to foster a critical understanding of the Global Ministries mission, and provide resources through Global Ministries to help groups respond to God's call through the development of relationships with our global partners.

Here are highlights of recent YASI developments:

1. Actively recruiting new members in an effort to achieve a greater balance between Disciples and UCC members.

2. Participation in anti-racism training in either late spring or summer.

3. Conducting workshops at the National Youth Event, Youth Ministries Event, and the various national racial/ethnic caucus gatherings this summer.

4. Engaging in preliminary discussions in preparation for a global mission experience among a partner church who has been involved with WCAR.

B. Work Among and With Disciples and UCC Related Colleges and Universities

Jarvis Christian College

The Executive met with the Chaplain Olin Fregia, who was recently appointed as the new Chaplain at Jarvis. Chaplain Fregia has recently submitted to this office a proposal abstract for a joint global mission partnership which potentially could involve Dillard University (UCC), Huston-Tillotson College (UCC), and a yet to be identified college or university associated with our partner churches in southern Africa. The project would involve students and faculty engaging in a work-study experience which would focus on the church's response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in southern Africa. Target date for implementation of the project is summer 2005. The proposal was being reviewed by the Africa Office at the time this report was written.

Dillard University

In cooperation with the Africa Office, an evaluation of last summers project will be conducted during the Spring semester. Dillard is considering participation in the project proposed by Jarvis Christian College.

Huston-Tillotson College

The Executive recently did a campus visit to Huston-Tillotson College. As part of the Huston-Tillotson's "Religious Emphasis Week," the Executive conducted a workshop for faculty and students which introduced the community to the ministry and mission of Global Ministries and Wider Church Ministries. The Executive also had an opportunity to preach at the campus chapel service. Huston-Tillotson will consider possible ways it can partner with Global Ministries including participation in the project proposed by Jarvis Christian College.

C. Racial/Ethnic People-to-People Pilgrimages (Updates)

In cooperation with the Coordinator of People-to-People Pilgrimages, and the Executives of the South Asia, Europe and Middle East, and the Africa offices, we are currently either in preliminary discussions or actively planning the following projects:

1. A youth and young adult exchange mission trip involving YASI and youth associated with the National Council of Churches in India and the Dahlit community.

2. An immersion experience in southern Africa for African American seminarians and other leaders. Focus: HIV/AIDS pandemic.

3. Exposure-Study trip to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories involving African American national leadership from the Disciples, UCC, the historically black denominations, and others within the ecumenical community.

E. Missionary Relationships Collaboration

The Executive continues to work with the Coordinator of the Office for Missionary (OMR) Relationships, to develop more effective methods of exposing missionaries to racial/ethnic congregations. The Executive and the OMR Coordinator met in Cleveland shortly after the submission of this report to discuss specific objectives to accomplish this goal.

F. Other Programmatic Initiatives and/or Involvement

The Executive represents Global Ministries and/or Wider Church Ministries on/in the following committees/organizations:

UCC Multiracial/Multicultural Implementation Team
The Diversity Leadership Team for the National Office (UCC)
The National Urban Ministries (UCC)
Liaison support with training consultants for WCM's Anti-Racism/Diversity Training
Attendance at various national racial/ethnic caucus meetings and convocations
Advisor to the Council of Theological Students