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Moderator and PNC Board prioritize anti-racism work

By Hillary Coleman - moderator

Hillary Coleman joins a recent BLM protest in Seattle.
Photo courtesy of Hillary Coleman

This is not where we expected to be as the summer of 2020 arrives, and yet, in some ways, I think we are being called to be exactly where we need to be as a church and to do vital work.

We are dealing with two pandemics —the existing pandemic of racism and the COVID-19 pandemic. I so wish that we were not faced with either of these pandemics, but unfortunately, we are and we must take action. I have been amazed by the stories of churches in our Conference adapting to church in times of COVID-19 and encourage them to keep up the inspiring work.

Today I write about addressing the pandemic that has existed for far too long: racism. I have similarly been inspired by seeing UCC clergy and members speaking out in our Conference and across the denomination.
This builds on our work of deepening relationships and undoing institutional racism that our Conference has been working on during our most recent Annual Meetings and in the time between. We have a lot to do, and this work must continue.

We must be declaring that Black Lives Matter and speaking up in solidarity because Black people are being murdered by police brutality and white supremacy.

We must acknowledge the white supremacy that is intertwined with the structures that make up our country, Conference, and churches. White folks (myself included) must heed the call to do our own internal work to understand white supremacy and what it means to be an anti-racist.

White folks must continue to step back while listening to and believing stories and experiences of people of color and following their leadership around policy demands and ways to undo institutional racism. We must feel uncomfortable and do our best to get over that discomfort and take action.

If we had met in person for our 2020 Annual Meeting, our Conference would have voted on bylaw changes that named our commitment to dismantling racism. We would have acknowledged in our governing documents that white supremacy and dominant culture are realities in our conference, and that we must work with an anti-racist lens to undo institutional racism.

Since we could not vote on bylaw changes this year due to not being in-person, our Board of Directors decided to take action and voted at our June 16 meeting to commit to Anti-Racism as a priority for the Board.

Our Board is dedicated to this work.

In lieu of an in-person board retreat this year, our board members are taking part in a series of diversity workshops to do some of the important personal and internal work as the Conference Board that we need to do.

Our board members have been committed to work to address racism and white supremacy in our Conference, and I am committed to making sure that we learn and act in collaboration with people across the Conference to truly look at our Board’s work with an anti-racism lens.

As part of adopting this priority at our June 16 meeting, we share the following statement. Please look for further communications about this commitment and the work that follows on the Google listserv in the coming days and weeks:

“The Board of Directors is committed to dismantling racism while expanding our understanding and awareness of the impact of racism and other intersectional oppressions such as classism, homophobia/homoantagonism, transphobia, and misogyny. White supremacy and dominant culture are realities in our Conference, and as an expression of equity, the Board is committed to developing and using an anti-racist lens in our work.”

For information, call 206-321-4344 or email


Pacific NW Conference United Church News - Copyright © Summer 2020


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