Racial Justice Work in the MN Conference

The Minnesota Conference UCC combines our voices to further courageous action, justice, and mercy.

The Conference’s Ad Hoc Antiracism Committee began its work in May with the support and guidance of consultants from Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training.

Those who responded to the invitation to serve in this capacity are:

  • Conee Biggs, Falcon Heights UCC
  • Chris Bonhoff, Plymouth Congregational, Minneapolis
  • Rev. Sarah Brouwer, St. Paul’s UCC, St. Paul
  • Jean Chagnon and Hikaru Peterson, First Congregational, Minneapolis
  • Cathy Kolwey, Meetinghouse Church, Edina
  • Ruth Larson, Peace UCC, Rochester
  • Rev. Paula Nordhem, New Spirit UCC, Savage
  • Ole Olson, United Faith Community, Buffalo
  • Rev. Cynthia Riggin, Macalester Plymouth Church, St. Paul
  • Nancy Zaworski, The Congregational UCC, Rochester

Jane McBride, chair of the Ad Hoc Anti-Racism Committee, introduced the committee at this year’s Annual Meeting. Now, the committee wants to share this introduction more widely and to invite members of the conference to be part of this vital work.  If you have ideas or feedback to share with the committee, please reach out to Jane at jmcbride@firstchurchmn.org or 612-598-2432.

Jane McBride’s Remarks from Annual Meeting

“Twenty years ago I participated in an Anti-Racism Study Dialogue Circle led by Okogeoman and Marjorie Otto on a series of fall Saturday mornings. The facilitators created an atmosphere of warmth and trust as well as challenge. The combination of study, experiential activities and heartfelt conversation permanently altered my understanding of my own identity and place this world. I began to see my white privilege for the first time, to understand how whiteness is the unspoken norm, to perceive the entrenched unfairness in our society, and to feel in my bones the ways white supremacy is harming me and all people, keeping us from being whole, from being well, from being free.

Since then, I’ve sought to supplement my inadequate, white-washed education by reading widely. I’ve looked for ways to show up in my community as an advocate for racial and economic justice. And I’ve begun to practice reparations, seeking to return some of the wealth stolen through colonization and enslavement.

Through this journey, I’ve realized: addressing racism in myself a life-long project. There’s no finish line. And that’s true as well in the church.  Antiracism work is work of many generations. I feel respect and gratitude for all the members of the conference, who, to this point, have helped move us toward change.

As a first step in the work of this ad hoc group, many of us have attended a five-week class with the Crossroads staff called: From White Supremacy Toward Liberation: Building Shared Analysis to Transform Institutions.

We are realizing that as an institution, the Minnesota Conference is a multi-layered being. We are this Annual Meeting. We are also individual members, congregations, clergy, committees, board, staff, and teams. And each of us is in a different place on our anti-racism journey and has different needs for support or challenge. So, the group has been considering, where will we start? Who are our partners and what are the resources we have to do this work?

We know white people must take responsibility for transforming racist systems. And we also know that it’s crucial for this effort to be accountable to People of Color within and beyond the conference.

One of our tasks, over the coming year is to discern how our antiracism work can move from being an “ad hoc” effort to a way of being, a permanent, ongoing part of our Conference structure and identity.

Please be in touch with us to share your hopes and ideas. We look forward to working alongside you to become more fully the church God created us to be.”

© Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ | 2023