Antiracism and Social Equity

PCUSA and Reparations: Who Knew?

On April 7, 2019, Pastor Tim Stern talked about the PCUSA Self-Development of People (SDOP) ministry. I had just learned two days before that the SDOP ministry evolved from a reparations project of PCUSA!  

Debbie Arey and I had attended PCUSA Compassion, Peace, and Justice Training Day in DC. We both were drawn to a workshop called Shalom & Shelem: Finding wholeness amidst racial distress. Shalom is about wholeness, peace, and right relationship, whereas Shelem can mean recompense or peace offering. They are intertwined concepts expressed in a number of Bible verses that provide the Biblical foundations for reparations, such as Deuteronomy 15: 12-15.  

Denise Anderson and Carlton Johnson, our workshop leaders, explained that the process of reparations requires the following steps:

  • Recognition that injustices have happened
  • Repentance
  • Restoration
  • Reconciliation

In the 1960’s and 70’s efforts were going forward to do this. But white Christians only went so far. They rejected the need to repair and repent and went straight to attempting reconciliation.

In 2004, the General Assembly adopted the Report of PCUSA Task Force to Study Reparations, “affirming that Jesus Christ calls us to repair wrongs done to one another and to work for personal and social reconciliation and renewal.” In 2016, the Confession of Belhar became one of the key tenets of our faith in the Book of Confessions. It was hoped that living within the morality of the Belhar Confession congregations would discuss reparations and move forward with action.  

Today with the brazen rise of racist ideology and violence and the long-standing structures of white supremacy that have created generational disparities, isn’t it time for White Christians to do the work required to reach Shalom and Shelem?

For more information, take a look at:

October 31, 2018

In the last week, three acts of domestic terrorism reminded us of just how much hate thrives in the United States. The first terrorist used the mail system to send 14 mail bombs to prominent political leaders and media figures with whom he presumably disagrees. The second terrorist, unable to attack people of color while they were gathered in their church, walked into a Kentucky grocery store and gunned down two African Americans as they did their shopping. The third terrorist walked into a synagogue on a holy day and killed eleven people while they worshiped the God of Creation. No words can assuage the grief caused by these deplorable acts of hatred.

The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness joins with the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly (PCUSA) and other leaders in the faith community to express our sincere grief and horror over these unspeakable acts of hate and to call on a ban of the sale of all assault-style weapons, such as the weapon used in the attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. These weapons are designed to be weapons of war and they have no place in the hands of private citizens.

No person should have to fear for their safety when going about their lives, whether that be while expressing political opinions, attending a worship service, or shopping for groceries. Nor should such fear be a reality in the lives of children at school, people of color in their homes or in public, people enjoying themselves at a movie theater, dance club, or concert. Violence and hate are not welcome here.

And yet, we know this very behavior is deeply rooted in fear. In this nation, the public climate has been growing increasingly uncivil for years, leading to more incidents of hate speech, acts of violence, public mocking, victim-shaming, and victim-blaming. In the last two years, the insidious realities of prejudice, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, sexism, ableism, and other –isms, which had been hiding under a rock of unacceptability, have crept out into the open. Our nation’s leadership has emboldened those who embrace such hate by stoking fear of change, fear of other, and fear of being replaced. The nation is now gripped by a climate of hate in which acts of violence and hate speech are more common, and even acceptable. Words cannot fire weapons, but they can and do create an atmosphere that incites violence, affirms fear, and makes incivility the new normal.

We wholeheartedly reject such a climate. We choose to believe that God’s plan for our community is fuller, more open, and more beautiful than the narrow world view where hate and fear fester. We believe that we are called into community of mutual respect and support and will not give in to fear-mongering and gas-lighting tactics that are designed to make us feel that we are being threatened. We choose to live in hope.

We encourage Presbyterians to participate in community services at local synagogues, churches and mosques. This is the time for people of faith to come together in our united stand against anything that dares to try to separate us. In God’s name, we are one.


Opening Prayer

I believe in Almighty God, who guided the people in exile and in exodus, the God of Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon, the god of foreigners and immigrants.

I believe in Jesus Christ, a displaced Galilean, who was born away from his people and his home, who fled his country with his parents when his life was in danger, and returning to his own country suffered the oppression of the tyrant Pontius Pilate, the servant of a foreign power, who then was persecuted, beaten, and finally tortured, accused and condemned to death unjustly. But on the third day, this scorned Jesus rose from the dead, not as a foreigner but to offer us citizenship in heaven.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the eternal immigrant from God's kingdom among us, who speaks all languages, lives in all countries, and reunites all races.

I believe that the church is the secure home for the foreigner and for all believers who constitute it, who speak the same language and have the same purpose.

I believe that the Communion of the Saints begins when we accept the diversity of the saints.

I believe in the forgiveness, which makes us all equal, and in the reconciliation, which identifies us more than does race, language or nationality.

I believe that in the Resurrection God will unite us as one people in which all are distinct and all are alike at the same time. 

Beyond this world, I believe in Life Eternal in which no one will be an immigrant but all will be citizens of God's kingdom, which will never end.


- by Jose Luis Casal, General Missioner 
 Tres Rios Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church USA

A.C.T. TO END RACISM On April 3-5, 2018 the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, of which PCUSA is a member, and its partners will gather in Washington, D.C. for a historic event to launch its Truth and Racial Justice Initiative.  April 4th will be fifty years since the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which will be marked by a prayer walk, interfaith service, and RALLY

AWAKEN oneself to the truth that racism is ever-present, deeply rooted in American culture, and profoundly damaging to our communities.


CONFRONT racism, speak truth to power, and stand up against injustice.


TRANSFORM the hearts, minds, and behaviors of people and institutions.

Let Linnie Girdner know if you plan to attend. or 410-999-7892.

On February 17, a small group from the church journeyed to the National Holocaust Museum to experience two special exhibits, now open to the public: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the Syrian exhibit Syria: Please Don’t Forget Us.
The Longest Hatred is the term that identifies the prejudice against or hatred of Jews—known as antisemitism—that has plagued the world for more than 2,000 years.
Early Christian thought held Jews collectively responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. This religious teaching became embedded in both Catholic and Protestant theology, during the first millennium, with terrible consequences for Jews.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a fabricated anti-Semitic text purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination. The elaborate story was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages, and disseminated internationally in the early part of the 20th century.
According to the claims, made by some of its publishers, the Protocols are the minutes of a late 19th-century meeting where Jewish leaders discussed their goal of global Jewish hegemony by subverting the morals of gentiles and by controlling the press and the world's economies.
Henry Ford funded the printing and distribution of the Protocols throughout the United States in the 1920s. The Nazis sometimes used the Protocols as propaganda against Jews. and it was assigned by some German teachers, as if factual, to be read by German schoolchildren, after the Nazis came to power in 1933, despite having been exposed as fraudulent by The Times of London in 1921.
The Protocols are still widely available today in numerous languages—in print and on the Internet—and continue to be presented by some proponents as a genuine document. Even today in the United States, among white supremacists and alt right groups such as those who gathered at in Charlottesville, VA in August, The Protocols are disseminated.
The group then moved to a second exhibit entitled Syria: Please Don’t Forget Us. Since the start of the conflict in Syria, the National Holocaust Museum has sounded the alarm to policymakers and the public about the atrocities being committed by the Assad regime.
As part of its campaign of violence, the Syrian government has detained more than 100,000 of its own citizens. In many cases, the government has refused to release their names. Families of the missing do not know whether loved ones are alive or dead.
One survivor of detention and torture, Mansour Omari, recently entrusted the Holocaust Museum with evidence of those crimes, which are on display in an exhibit entitled Syria: Please Don’t Forget Us. While in prison, Omari and his fellow prisoners wrote their names on five scraps of fabric in ink made of rust and their own blood.
When Omari was released, he smuggled out the pieces of fabric so he could inform his cellmates’ families about what had happened to them. He has loaned the fabric to the Museum for preservation and public display.
Using video, music and testimony, Syria: Please Don’t Forget Us introduces visitors to the conflict in Syria through one man’s story.
The exhibit is accompanied by a photo montage of hundreds of photographs of the victim’s faces and views of their emaciated and tortured bodies, scattered in government prisons, as documented by an official government photographer.
The photographer later fled Syria and the Assad Regime in fear of his life and smuggled out two flash drives in the heels of his shoes. These flash drives and his cell phone are now a part of the Syrian exhibit at the Holocaust Museum.

- Chris Wilkens


ADVOCACY TRAINING CONFERENCE Join us April 20 for Compassion Peace and Justice Training Day at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C.   Gather with your fellow Presbyterians as we look at how our church and our partners are confronting white supremacy and nativism while supporting refugee and migrant populations in our country and abroad. In plenaries and workshops we will analyze our current context and offer concrete tools for members and their congregations to address these urgent issues. We will learn how we build a unified public witness of subversive love amidst the abuse and hatred running rampant in our country.



Feb. 17 - Feb. 25 several showings. A Special Documentary entitled Bates: Center of Excellence, Memories of Bates' Teachers will be shown at the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center in Annapolis. Come learn about the only high school for black students in the entire county during segregation. The event is free, but REGISTRATION is required.  
Saturday, February 24, 2018 - 2:00 p.m. Tuskegee airman, Colonel Charles McGee at the Odenton Library 1325 Annapolis Road, Odenton, MD. Colonel Charles McGee, a highly decorated Tuskegee pilot, will be visiting our library to talk about his life, including a record of 409 fighter combat missions. More info.
Saturday, February 24, 2018, 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Family Day: Celebrating Frederick Douglass at the Banneker-Douglass Museum, 84 Franklin Street, Annapolis, MD. Families with children of all ages can stop by the museum to celebrate the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass through fun, guided tours and arts & crafts activities.  Snacks will be provided. Click here  for more info.
Sunday, February 25, 2018 at 4 p.m. Arias and Shanties at Asbury United Methodist Church. Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA) and the Annapolis Opera present a powerful concert with selections from opera and Negro spirituals, woven together by a poignant historical narrative. Click here for tickets ($25.00; $15.00 for students) and more info.
Other events can be found at Capital Gazette and AACC
ICONS OF THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE Saturday, February 10, 2018 1:00 p.m. The Salon: Icons of the Harlem Renaissance at the Chesapeake Arts Center 194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn Park, MD. Written and directed by Dr. Vivian Gist Spencer, with music by Extension of Faith, this production will be a dramatic portrayal of the meeting of great African American authors, artists, musicians, and dancers of the 1920's who gather to entertain and enlighten one another through conversation, presentation and performance. FREE.
Sunday, February 11, 2018 2:00-4:00 pm. The Salon: Icons of the Harlem Renaissance (please see above description). This performance will be at Anne Arundel Community College Pascal Center for the Performing Arts, 101 College Parkway, Arnold, MD. FREE
February 17 - February 25 several showings. A special documentary entitled Bates: Center of Excellence, Memories of Bates' Teachers will be shown at the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center in Annapolis. Come learn about the only high school for black students in the entire county during segregation. FREE, but registration is required. 
Other events can be found at Capital Gazette and AACC

It is entirely up to the American people whether or not they are going to face and deal with and embrace this stranger on whom they’ve relied for so long.  What white people have to do is to try to find out -- find out in their own hearts -- why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place.  If I’m not the nigger here, and you, the white people, invented it, then you have to figure out why.  The future of this country relies on that. - James Baldwin
I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO Thanks to all those who participated in the forum on I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO last Sunday, and a special thanks to those who facilitated, brought goodies, and/or handled the projection. For those who missed it, you can access the award-winning documentary through Amazon Prime or borrow the DVD from the local library.
BALDWIN AND COATES: LETTERS OF LOVE AND CAUTION Our next event continues with the words of James Baldwin. His letter to his nephew was a cautionary tale on what it meant to be a black man in America in 1962. More than a half century later, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote his award-winning book Between the World and Me as a letter to his teenage son. Join us to discuss excerpts from these letters on Thursday, October 19th at 7pm in the Ark and Dove Room. Both are available online.   
Please sign up in the lobby or contact Linnie at


I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO Film and Discussion, Sunday, October 1 from 2:30 - 4:30 pm in the Sanctuary  I Am Not Your Negro is a profound award-winning  documentary elucidating author James Baldwin's perception of race and inequality in modern America. The film is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and directed by filmmaker Raoul Peck.  The documentary will be followed by discussion, dessert, and an invitation to future opportunities. Please join us and invite your friends. Sign up in the lobby or ONLINE! Questions? Please contact Linnie Girdner at 410-999-7892 or


For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, 
    abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.
- Psalm 86:5

ABOUNDING IN STEADFAST LOVE After Charlottesville, we all are aware of the threat to God's dream for the world posed by white supremacists. PC(USA)'s official statement concludes with: "By God's grace may we remember the events in Charlottesville; repent of our acquiescence and failures; and renew our commitment to proclaim and live the good news of Jesus Christ. May that commitment lead us to stand against, speak against and work against racism and white supremacy, this day and every day." Be supported and encouraged in taking on this commitment by joining other Ark and Dovers. Questions? Please contact Paula Sparks at 443-623-1169 or to be a part of the Anti-Racism and Social Equity team and Social Justice Facebook group. If not now, when? Linnie Girdner, co-leader of the Anti-Racism and Social Equity Team
WE CHOOSE WELCOME Just in time for last Sunday's forum on refugees, PCUSA rolled out the We Choose Welcome Action Guide that provides tips and resources for welcoming refugees.

You can find it at:

Twenty-eight people watched the documentary
Salam Neighbor and engaged one another on the challenges and strengths of the people we vicariously met on the film. Afterward Debbie Arey, Ark and Dove's Refugee Welcome Team Leader, led the group to a hopeful place by laying out what we are preparing to do at Ark and Dove. If you missed this event, it is not too late to catch up. Salam Neighbor is available on Netflix, the brief video by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service can be found at, and you can contact Debbie at debarey(at)hotmail, if you want to inquire about the Refugee Welcome Team. Thank you to all who attended, brought delicious desserts, and helped make the forum a success. Linnie Girdner, Co-Team Leader, Anti-Racism and Social Equity Team


YOU'RE INVITED! Salam Neighbor: Movie & Discussion on Refugees This Sunday, July 16th from 6:30-8:30pm at Ark and Dove. We will discuss the plight of refugees and our call as Christians to welcome the stranger. The award winning documentary, Salam Neighbor, provides an intimate look into a Syrian camp in Jordan. Millions who flee war and persecution in their homeland end up in camps, often for years, unable to integrate into the new country, to earn a living, or to give their children a decent education. What can we do, and what are we already doing?  All are welcome in the conversation! Go to the evite at to sign up.

ANTIRACISM AND SOCIAL EQUITY:  Where are we fifty years later? Fifty years ago on April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his speech "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence" at the Riverside Church in New York. He was highly criticized for speaking out about the war and making connections among racism, materialism, and militarism. Exactly a year later he was murdered. His speech can be heard HERE. Or the text is available HERE.
This past Sunday, April 2, at the same Riverside Church, the Reverend William Barber II preached a sermon entitled "When Silence is Not an Option," building on the lectionary of the "dry bones." He spoke of how the themes that MLK raised have continued, and that what we see happening now is not an exception, but a continuation of patterns of oppression against the poor, and especially poor people of color. His inspiring sermon is available HERE.  We cannot be silent, but must speak out to "loose the bonds of injustice, let the oppressed go free" (Isaiah 58:6).
Linnie Girdner  
Co-Leader, Antiracism and Social Equity Team
FAITHFUL RESISTANCE Remember when we read The Last Week by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan as a Lenten study? The authors described how every act of Jesus’ last week was protesting Empire and speaking truth to power. In a society that had many who were oppressed and marginalized, Jesus modeled for us that acts of resistance ARE worship.

In Rick Ufford-Chase 2016 book, Faithful Resistance, we are reminded again that resistance is intrinsic to the teachings of the Gospel.  A former Moderator of the General Assembly of PCUSA and long-time peace advocate, he asks: “Is it possible for a church that has been at the heart of Empire for as long as we have to make a course correction and move intentionally from the center of Empire to the margins?”  He and other contributors address issues such as immigrants, race, LGBTQ, the environment, Christian education and mission. This is not about partisan politics, but rather about living the Gospel in our actions every day, reaching beyond our comfortable bubbles to those who are currently marginalized and oppressed.  As we move into the week where Resist is the word of intentionality in our current Lenten study, consider resistance as worship.

Linnie Girdner
Co-leader, Antiracism and Social Equity Team 


On March 6th, I went to the Maryland State House in Annapolis for an extraordinary event, marking the 160th anniversary of the Dred Scott decision. You remember the Dred Scott decision from school, I’m sure. Chief Justice Taney wrote in the majority decision:

In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show, that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument.... They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.

In recent years the descendants of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney and of Dred Scott have been working on repentance, reconciliation and forgiveness. On that Monday they did that publically in front of the statue of Taney that sits before the Maryland State House. Taney’s great-great-great nephew acknowledged the inexcusable wrong and how that wrong was the foundation upon which so much oppression was built.  Scott’s descendant thanked the Taneys for the “courage and grace” and offered forgiveness. Alex Haley’s grandson spoke, remarking on how just down the street from where we stood, his ancestor Kunta Kinta, arrived on Maryland’s shores, kidnapped and enslaved.  A white pastor offered a confession for the sins of the church in using Christianity to justify enslaving black people. It was a moving ceremony, but it was not just words. The Taney and Scott families founded a nonprofit to help others move forward on the path of repentance, reconciliation, and forgiveness.

History is not just dusty books. It is living memory and generational guilt as well as generational trauma. Confession and conversion are not simply words. For white folks like the Taneys to own their past and work, from their hearts, to make amends is a Christian example that hopefully many others will follow.

Linnie Girdner
Co-Leader, Antiracism and Social Equity Team


Advocacy Training Weekend
All are invited!

“Confronting Chaos, Forging Community – Racism, Militarism, and Materialism”

April 21-24, 2017 | Washington, DC

HERE for more details!


Stated Clerk signs amicus brief opposing President Trump's travel ban


February 16, 2017

Office of the General Assembly
Toya Richards
Director of Communications and Assistant Stated Clerk

The Reverend J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), joined other faith leaders Thursday in signing an amicus curiae brief filed with the United States District Court opposing the president’s executive order creating a travel ban.

The interfaith coalition of religious congregations, associations, and organizations united “to speak with one voice against the Executive Order issued on January 27, 2017, suspending the United States Refugee Admissions Program and halting entry into the United States by citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations,” the brief states. It was filed with the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York.

 “My participation in this brief reflects the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s historic commitment to welcoming refugees and demanding an immigration system free from discrimination,” Nelson says. “We continue to stand with the widow, orphan, and foreigner.”

The amicus brief supports a case brought by Hameed Khalid Darweesh, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi and others “similarly situated” after they were detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York immediately following President Donald Trump’s executive order issued to allegedly “protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States.”

The executive order and subsequent detainment of refugees and others legally vetted to enter the United States prompted protests at airports and cities around the country. The class action suit brought by Darweesh and Alshawi is accompanied by other similar cases moving through the judicial system at different levels.

The interfaith amicus brief urges the court to find the executive order unlawful, “recognizing the profound harm it wreaks on the mission, values, and religious freedom that we, as representatives of a broad range of faith traditions, hold dear.”

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), through its General Assembly, has passed more than 20 pieces of policy in support of refugees and refugee resettlement since 1947. Among those policies is a 2016 action to respond to the Biblical directive to provide for the stranger and the sojourner by advocating for and seeking to improve matters related to U.S. government resettlement policies.

More information on the PC(USA)’s engagement on immigration and refugee issues can be found online

NOW WHAT? In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. asked, “Where Do We Go from here: Chaos or Community?” Then, Dr. King challenged us to determine whether the nation would choose love or hate? Today we ask: “Now What?” Join us for a special event on MLK Day featuring PCUSA Stated Clerk, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II. We will launch a new chapter in our work toward racial justice and reconciliation within our church and our communities. This is a free event, including lunch, however, registration is required. Monday, January 16th, 11am to 2pm.

ANTIRACISM AND SOCIAL EQUITY Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community is the title of PCUSA’s Churchwide Antiracism Policy and the theme of our next small group study. We will explore the biblical foundations for antiracism work, understand the legacy of racism in the church and in the country, and grapple with how we move toward a “new creation” for our children and future generations. Using articles and videos that are free and easily accessible, preparation for the six weekly meetings can fit into any schedule. Join facilitator Linnie Girdner, beginning on Tuesday, January 10th at 7pm in the Ark and Dove Room. For more information, contact Linnie at 410-999-7892 or Look for the sign-up sheet on the bulletin board.
THE HOUSE WE LIVE IN On Nov. 20th, 30 people came to church to watch and discuss The House We Live In, Part III of the PBS Series Race: The Power of an Illusion. It was an eye-opener for many, making us aware of how little we know of our country’s systemic racism and its impact on generational wealth. If you missed this event, you can find the whole series on youtube. In 2017, we are planning a six week small group starting Tuesday, January 10 and expect to have forums with either films or speakers at least quarterly. We will keep you posted. If you would like to join the Antiracism and Social Equity Team, please contact Linnie Girdner at 410-999-7892 or or Paula Sparks at 443-623-1169 or       
Joining this conversation is more important than ever. 

PCUSA STANDS IN SOLIDARITY WITH STANDING ROCK Remember the VBS program many children attended called Water All Around the WorldHave you carried the message further with what we are learning about the value of water to those of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation? They, and others who have joined them, are being water protectors for themselves, their descendants, and the millions of people who depend on water from the Missouri River.  The water protectors have come to stop the company Energy Transfer from building the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline (DAPL), which violates treaty rights, destroys sacred sites, and would carry crude oil under the Missouri River, endangering the water supply.  They are engaging prayerfully and peacefully in the face of an escalating law enforcement reaction.

On October 31, 2016, PCUSA’s made clear that Presbyterians stand in solidarity with the water protectors.
PCUSA urges us to stand in solidarity with the water protectors. Those who cannot go to Standing Rock are encouraged to:

* Organize prayer services

* Provide financial support to the water protectors.  Make check payable to: Synod of Lakes and Prairies. Note on check: Dakota Access Pipeline Acct #2087. Send to Synod of Lakes and Prairies, 2115 Cliff Drive, Eagan, MN 55122. Make sure to include your name and address on the check unless already printed on it, so that you can receive confirmation.
* Contact public officials:
     o Call North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple at (701) 328-2200 to demand protections for protestors and an end to hostilities against them.
     o Call the White House at (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414. Tell President Obama to rescind the Army Corps of Engineers' Permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline.
     o Call the Army Corps of Engineers and demand that they reverse the permit for DAPL: (202) 761-5903.

For the full news release, see


For an understanding of the reasons the Sioux Tribe is bringing a lawsuit, this timeline is helpful:

In addition to recommendations by PCUSA, you can address corporate interests that are funding the pipeline; 17 banks are involved.  Banks are often more responsive to public pressure, so send letters to these. Please click HERE for contact information.  We also encourage you to contact executives of the companies that are building the pipeline:

Lee Hanse, Executive VP President Energy Transfer Partners 210-403-6455,

Glenn Emery, VP Energy Transfer Partners 210-403-6762,

Michael Waters, Lead Analyst Energy Transfer Partners 713-989-2404

Suggested text for contacting corporate interests and companies:  "The Dakota Access Pipeline desecrates sacred lands and has serious potential to damage the water supply of the Standing Rock reservation.  This is white power, domination and oppression at its worst.  We have a moral obligation to interrupt this injustice and redeem ourselves from 500 years of oppression, exploitation and attempted genocide.  I urge you to stop all work on the pipeline (for companies that are building)/or 'withdraw funding for the pipeline' (for banks) and work with Native Americans, government and the Army Corps of Engineers to find another route."

Please click to download the
2016 Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community Churchwide Anti Racism Policy
of the General Assembly of PC(USA)


GRACISM: GOD'S SOLUTION This past Sunday Linnie Girdner, David Sparks and I attended an enlightening discussion led by Dr. David Anderson, Senior Pastor of Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia, MD and author of Gracism: The Art of Inclusion.

Simply put, Racism is negative speech, thought, words and actions against people for no other reason than their color, class, or culture.  Grace is unmerited favor granted to all of us by God.  By combining racism and grace, Dr. Anderson defines Gracism as an extension of positive favor to other people regardless of, and sometimes because of, color, class, or culture. He sees Gracism as God’s solution to racism because it “focuses on race for the purpose of positive ministry and service” instead of negative purposes such as discrimination.  As we move forward together in our work toward dismantling racism and creating social equity, perhaps we can learn to be Gracists, moving beyond racism to extend God’s grace. 
Paula Sparks,
Co-Facilitator, Anti-racism and Social Equity.
I WILL LIFT YOU UP Lifting up the humble by assisting and elevating them toward success.

I WILL COVER YOU Protecting the most vulnerable among us from embarrassment and harm.

I WILL SHARE WITH YOU Opening up networks and resources to others who are systematically downtrodden, and refusing special treatment that may hurt them.

I WILL HONOR YOU Recognizing those who are the most humble heroes among us regardless of color, class and culture.

I WILL STAND WITH YOU Committing to stand with the weak... the majority committing to stand up for, and with, the minority.

I WILL CONSIDER YOU Having equal concern for our neighbors regardless of color, class or culture by considering their perspectives and needs.

I WILL CELEBRATE WITH YOU Rejoicing when the humble and less fortunate among us are helped.


ANTI-RACISM AND SOCIAL EQUITY Why did we change the name of our joint ministry team from Race and Reconciliation to Antiracism and Social Equity? First, this aligns us with the 2016 document Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community Churchwide Anti Racism Policy of the General Assembly of PC(USA). Second, we added Social Equity to state not only what we aim to dismantle, but also to define our end goal in positive terms. Third, we learned from Jim Wallis, the author of America’s Original Sin, and our own pastors, that reconciliation can only come after repentance and conversion.  

Is social justice a passion of yours? Are you interested in transformation rather than Band-Aids?  Then consider joining our team. No time to join our team, but still want to be involved?  Paula and David Sparks plan to facilitate a small group on Wallis’ book America’s Original Sin in the fall. Please consider signing up!

To equip ourselves as team co-facilitators, Paula Sparks and Linnie Girdner have been participating in a training course at Baltimore Racial Justice Action. It has been a challenging and rewarding experience. If you are interested in their trainings, check out their website at  The trainings fill up fast, but you can always get on a waiting list.

In hope for social equity,

Linnie Girdner,                  
Paula Sparks,
Co-Facilitators of the Joint Ministry Team on Anti-racism and Social Equity


FAITH AND ANTI-RACISM:  FORUM AND SMALL GROUP DISCUSSIONS On Sunday, October 2nd, Ark and Dove had it's fourth Anti-Racism Social Equity forum.  Our focus was to develop a common vocabulary so we could continue our discussions about racism, reconciliation and equity.  After going over some definitions of discrimination, racism, prejudice, implicit bias and other terms, we broke into small groups and talked about the role of faith communities in helping our nation to move forward with justice on this issue. 

Most of the definitions we used came from a resource that Baltimore Racial Justice Action provided to Linnie Girdner and Paula Sparks in a 28 hour course they took.  This two-page resource is entitled Defining the Terms (please see below).

I think we came away from the forum with a better understanding of the complexities of racism, and we came away with a sense that we should continue our work as a congregation on this issue of peacemaking, justice and equity.  Thank you to Linnie Girdner, Paula Sparks, Shelley Franklin, Kim Champagne, Christine Caulfield Noll, Alex Effiom,  Rebecca Bell Echols and Jon Nelson for their leadership.

~ Pastor Tim