UCC Continues Antiracism Journey through Upcoming All Church Read and Book Club Events

The cover of Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be An Antiracist.

At the United Church of Christ’s General Synod 24, hosted in July 2003 in Minneapolis, Minn., the UCC adopted a resolution calling for it to become an antiracist church and create antiracist policies, thus beginning a challenging journey all settings of the church continue today. The importance of this commitment and this work have only been brought more clearly into focus in the years since the May 25, 2020, murder of George Floyd, as the number of attacks on people of color across the United States continues to grow. To continue educating members about the importance of antiracism and what actions they can take to move their communities forward, Join the Movement toward Racial Justice—a UCC initiative that invites all settings of the church to be part of creating an antiracist world—is calling on all members of the church to engage in an all-church reading of Ibram X. Kendi’s book, How to Be an Antiracist.

Kendi’s book, published in 2019, became an international bestseller and reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list. It has been translated into over 10 languages and inspired numerous subsequent books aimed at audiences like parents and children and companion pieces such as workbooks and reflection activities.

Attendees at this year’s General Synod will have the opportunity to hear Kendi speak at a Join the Movement-sponsored dinner June 30. Additional information and registration are available online.

Reading and Reflecting on the Book

Join the Movement encourages members not only to read the book, but also to engage in meaningful conversations about it. They recommend forming book groups with your church or partnering with another to host a discussion, considering virtual events to bring groups together, and engaging youth in intergenerational discussions about the book and its ideas.

Organizations across the UCC have also created numerous resources members can equip themselves with on this journey toward racial justice. Resources are available on Frontline Faith to assist, including a Facilitator’s Guide, Discussion Guides, historical and cultural context videos from Dr. Renee K. Harrison, prayers, scripture readings, and discussion forums.

Kendi’s Book Continues to Deliver Powerful Lessons

This all church read is not the first time Kendi’s book and its message have helped UCC organizations in their antiracist work. It was the inaugural selection of the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries’ (CHHSM)  “Together We Learn” book group in 2020.

“How to Be an Antiracist was the first book we read in CHHSM’s Together We Learn book group,” reflected CHHSM Vice President the Rev. George R. Graham. “We are thrilled that How to Be an Antiracist has been selected for an all-church read leading up to General Synod and that Ibram X. Kendi will be speaking at a fundraiser for Join the Movement at General Synod on Friday, June 30.

“We would invite anyone who has already read the book to re-read it.  And if you haven’t read it, then we invite you to get a copy and commit to reading it between now and the end of June.  Whether you have read it before or not, there are a lot of resources through the Frontline Faith portal, which have been prepared by the Join the Movement team.”

CHHSM’s upcoming “Together We Learn” selection—Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.

“Together We Learn,” a virtual, Zoom-based discussion group, was created as a direct result of the CHHSM board of directors’ Statement on the Pandemic of Systemic Racism as a tool to help members in their antiracist learnings. When Join the Movement announced its all-church read, CHHSM decided not to start its next book until after General Synod. “Because we want to support the focus on How to Be an Antiracist as the all-church read, we are waiting until after General Synod to start our next ‘Together We Learn’ group, which will focus on Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, who is founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala.  Stevenson will also be a speaker at General Synod, delivering the Valerie Russell lecture, which will be sponsored this year by both United Church Funds and CHHSM.  Watch for more details about the group after General Synod.”

Additional information about 2023’s “Together We Learn” will be shared in upcoming issues of Diakonie.

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