Uniting in the Fight Against Racism

Insights from the Justice League of Greater Lansing from Cynthia Webb, leader of UUMC Church and Society Team

Understanding Racism: A Sin and a Systemic Issue

The recent presentation by the Justice League of Greater Lansing (JLGLM) to the United Methodist Church (UUMC) brought together members from various congregations and communities. Led by key figures like Willye White Bryan, Prince-Jerrod Solace, and Stan Jenkins, the event was a powerful discussion on racism as a pervasive societal problem.

Historical Perspective and Current Challenges

Willye Bryan, the founder of JLGLM, emphasized the historical context of racism, highlighting how systemic injustice has led to a significant wealth gap affecting African American families. From slavery and Jim Crow laws to redlining, Bryan’s insights painted a vivid picture of the struggle for equality.

The Role of the Church and Community

Pastor Stan Jenkins highlighted the importance of the church’s role in addressing racism, framing it as a sin and a collective problem for white society. He stressed the need for reparations, not just as financial compensation but as a spiritual journey towards repentance and transformation.

JLGLM’s Mission and Impact

Communications Director Prince-Jerrod Solace discussed JLGLM’s goal to raise a $1 million endowment. This fund aims to provide housing grants, scholarships, and support for new black businesses. He also shared the organization’s progress, having raised over $350,000 in 2023, primarily from white-majority church congregations.

Upcoming Events and Community Engagement

The presentation concluded with an invitation to upcoming events aimed at raising awareness and fostering dialogue. These include a film screening of “The Cost of Inheritance” and a panel discussion titled “How Did We Get Here?”, both promising to be enlightening experiences for attendees.

Conclusion: A Call to Action

This presentation serves as a reminder of the ongoing battle against racial injustice and the crucial role communities and churches play in this fight. By understanding the historical context, engaging in meaningful dialogue, and actively supporting organizations like JLGLM, we can all contribute to a more equitable society.

For more information and to RSVP for upcoming events with the Justice League, visit https://www.JusticeLeagueGLM.org.

Next Steps at UUMC:

  1. The Church and Society team will plan to discuss how UUMC will support the work of fighting racism and our role in it, as well as how UUMC will take action, including congregation-wide discussions about making reparations. Watch the website and Tower News for more information coming soon. To connect with The Church and Society Team, contact Cynthia at Cynthia.white.webb@gmail.com.

    Special Note from Pastor Melanie: Additional steps of awareness at UUMC include Worship Themes, Study Classes, and Choral Cantata.

  2. Beginning Sunday, February 18th, a five-week Lenten Worship Series will focus on Fighting Racism by raising awareness. Each Sunday during Lent, the worship message will center on one of the five abolitionists who were Methodist and the faith that inspired them. This series is based on a new book, “Compelling Lives: Five Methodist Abolitionists and the Faith That Inspired Them,” by the Rev. Christopher Momany. The book will be available for purchase at UUMC. Additionally, on Sunday, March 10th, the author, The Rev. Momany, will be preaching at UUMC during both services and hosting a talk-back lunch discussion of his book at noon. Watch the Tower News and website for more information and to sign up for the lunch discussion.
  3. Lenten Adult Study Class: How to Fight Racism,” based on Jamar Tisby’s book study: “How to Fight Racism.” Dates and times for this hybrid class (in-person and online) will be announced soon. Watch the Tower News, website, and announcements for more information.
  4. Sunday, March 17th, is Special Music Sunday at 11 a.m. (only one worship service that day) with our choirs and musicians performing the Cantata “Simon Bore the Cross,” music by Margaret Bonds and lyrics by Langston Hughes. This musical work focuses on Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus carry his cross on the way to the crucifixion. In this Cantata, we hear pleas for racial equity through the text but also within the way Margaret Bonds composed the cantata, utilizing moments of gospel and jazz influence. Don’t miss this.


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