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Justice Leadership folks help address racial, religious intolerance

Northshore UCC (NUCC) in Woodinville has been helping members and community neighbors overcome racial and religious intolerance through several recent events—”Ask a Muslim” dialogue, “Dismantling Racism” workshop and “Meaningful Movies.”

Ask a Muslim

Northshore UCC in Woodinville helps congregation and community address prejudices.            Photo courtesy of Lin Hagedorn

Out of her involvement this year as a Justice Leadership Jubilee participant this year, Lin Hagedorn helped organize the events.

NUCC is also offering the “White Privilege, Let’s Talk” curriculum this month.  It is being led by Anya McMurrer, the Justice Leadership Program young adult participant.

“Together, and through our work at our social change agencies—Anya with the Church Council of Greater Seattle and me with 350seattle—we do justice work for the PNC, our social change agencies and our church, NUCC,” said Lin.

“Ask a Muslim” on Dec. 17 involved 13 members of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) in Redmond and the Islamic Center in Bothel.  They met with 10 non-Muslims mostly from Northshore.

That program grew out of NUCC flying a banner expressing solidarity with Muslims during Ramadan.  The “Ask a Muslim” program was developed by Seattle’s KUOW radio.

For an hour, participants met in pairs for six-minute conversations with the non-Muslim people asking the Muslim people questions about their faith, followed by a large group debriefing and a potluck dinner.

The participants were so involved they didn’t want to break off their conversations, said Lin, who has been a member of Northshore UCC for 30 years, served on the PNC Justice Witness Ministries Committee for six years and became involved with social justice through the church.

Those who attended found it a “good ice breaker” and were interested in meeting again.

Muslim people involved also want to host an event for the public, Lin said.

 One Muslim man was surprised that the non-Muslims didn’t ask: “Why are you all terrorists?” or “Why do you hate Christians?”

“We assured him that, as members of a progressive church, we wouldn’t have thought such things in the first place,” said Lin, who organized it with Dennis Lone of NUCC.

Lin organized a one-day “Dismantling Racism” workshop on Jan. 7. Diane Schmitz, a UCC minister with a specialized ministry in racial justice, and Cynthia MacLeod, assistant director of Equity Professional Development in the Portland school district and a Methodist, facilitated the workshop.  Diane is European American and Cynthia is African American.

This training was geared towards building a commitment to racial justice among communities east of Lake Washington in the Seattle area.

Through workshop that included individual reflection, large and small group discussion, structured learning activities and such art as film, storytelling, music and poetry, they explored several topics.

It also involved understanding personal racial justice consciousness development and the interpersonal, cultural and institutional levels of racism; learning historical and institutional background of racism in today’s social and political context; gaining awareness, knowledge and skills to support conversations about race, racism and white privilege, and planning action for next steps as church communities.

Several years ago, and last year, Lin participated in training with the Peoples Institute Northwest for Survival and Beyond and “had my eyes open to the systemic racism and my participation in those systems of oppression. 

“It has motivated me to begin working with others to undo systems of oppressions,” said Lin, a dental hygenist since she graduated in 1980 from the University of Washington.

Lin learned about the “Dismantling Racism” curriculum at a Jubilee Justice Sojourn meeting.

She reached out to churches east of Lake Washington.  The workshop drew nearly half of its participants from Northshore and about half from the Unitarian Universalist Church, plus several other congregations.

As part of next steps, she has connected with European Descent, a Seattle group, with the idea of having a chapter in neighboring communities that are not diverse.

In its Woodinville Meaningful Movies series, NUCC showed the documentary, “13th,” on Jan. 13.  The film looks at the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that says: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” 

It follows the clause between the commas that means there are 2.2 million prisoners in the U.S. justice system.

“In the film, civil-rights advocate Michelle Alexander unpacks how the rhetorical war started by Richard Nixon and continued by Ronald Reagan escalated into a literal war, a “nearly genocidal” one. The Southern Strategy is unmasked as a political calculation that decimated black neighborhoods but won the southern white vote,” Lin said.

Today’s mass criminalization with incarceration as an industry, prison as profit, punishment as profit is being met with the declaration that the lives of black people, their dignity and humanity are valuable and matter. The film is designed to informs viewers why the three words, “Black Lives Matter,” are a commitment, she added.

For four Tuesdays in February, Northshore UCC is offering a “White Privilege: Let’s Talk” study program, led by Anya.

That adult curriculum, recommended by the national UCC, is designed to encourage church members to engage in safe, meaningful, substantive and bold conversations on race.

For information, call 206-310-6203 or email


Copyright © February 2017 Pacific Northwest Conference United Church of Christ News


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