The Social Justice Committee supports the congregation in working out its commitment to justice and reconciliation in the world through organizing, advocacy, education, and nurturing public relationships for the common good. An essential part of this work is better understanding how systemic racism permeates our lives and institutions, but we also seek to move from education and dialogue to action, identifying concrete steps we can take to overcome injustices in our community.
What is broad-based organizing?
Broad-based community organizing builds relational power to address systemic injustice at its roots. The foundation of organizing, the face-to-face, one-on-one meeting, forges relationships across diverse groups of people and institutions who then work together to identify areas of common concern, develop leaders, and tackle community problems through citizen-led action.
How is Westminster involved?
In October 2020, Westminster, through our relationship with the Micah Center, joined with nine other area congregations and civic organizations to create a Grand Rapids Sponsoring Team. This dues-paying team is working to recruit ten more organizations by the end of 2021. We will then become an official affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation, the nation’s largest and longest-standing network of local faith and community-based organizations.
With twenty West Michigan institutions connected through relationships of trust, we will act publicly on a variety of issues, bringing the power of organized people to decision makers in our community.
How does organizing work?
- We contract with the IAF for consultation and leadership training from an experienced professional organizer.
- We raise a budget from the dues of member organizations and fundraisers. Membership is open to any institution who shares our mission to work for equity and justice in West Michigan.
- We hold hundreds of one-on-one meetings within our member groups and across institutions to build relationships of trust and identify areas of concern.
- We assign teams to research chosen community issues and develop potential solutions.
- We present our agenda to local decision makers and assert the power of organized people to achieve lasting change.
Why "Black Lives Matter"
To insist that black lives matter, for followers of Jesus, is to believe that all are created in the image of God. We have done all kinds of things to distort this image, but God is restoring it and reconciling the world. We are called to join in that work.
To insist that black lives matter is to insist that persons of color deserve equal dignity and concern as all other persons, without exception.
To insist that black lives matter is not less than insisting that all lives matter. We specifically insist that black lives matter because the historical and contemporary injustice done to people of color demands it.
To insist that black lives matter is not to endorse individual groups or positions or to oppose police as persons. It is not a justification of violence but a rejection of violence in every form.
To insist that black lives matter means we must be willing to have difficult conversations with others—and with ourselves. We must listen. We must acknowledge. We must repent. We must speak up. We must act.
Anti-Racism Reading and Resources
These resources are intended to serve white people and parents in deepening their anti-racism work. If you have not engaged in anti-racism work in the past, start now.
- Check out these books for children and young adults from the list of Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners
- Listen to the Parenting Forward podcast episode ‘Five Pandemic Parenting Lessons with Cindy Wang Brandt’
- Listen to the Fare of the Free Child podcast
- Read PBS’s Teaching Your Child About Black History Month
- Follow The Conscious Kid on Instagram
- “America’s Racial Contract Is Killing Us” Adam Serwer, The Atlantic (May 8, 2020)
- Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement (Mentoring a New Generation of Activists
- ”My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant” Jose Antonio Vargas, New York Times Magazine (June 22, 2011)
- The 1619 Project The New York Times Magazine
- “The Intersectionality Wars” Jane Coaston, Vox (May 28, 2019)
- Tips for Creating Effective White Caucus Groups developed by Craig Elliott PhD
- ”White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” Peggy McIntosh
- “Who Gets to Be Afraid in America?” Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, The Atlantic (May 12, 2020)
- Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins
- Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Dr. Brittney Cooper
- Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
- How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
- Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
- Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century by Grace Lee Boggs
- The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
- This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherríe Moraga
- When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America by Ira Katznelson
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, PhD
- Black Feminism & the Movement for Black Lives, Barbara Smith, Reina Gossett, Charlene Carruthers (50:48)
- “How Studying Privilege Systems Can Strengthen Compassion”, Peggy McIntosh at TEDxTimberlaneSchools (18:26)
- 13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
- American Son (Kenny Leon) — Netflix
- Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975 — available to rent
- Clemency (Chinonye Chukwu) — available to rent
- Dear White People (Justin Simien) — Netflix
- Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler) — available to rent
- I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin documentary) — Netflix
- If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) — Hulu
- Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton) — available to rent
- King In The Wilderness — HBO
- See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol) — Netflix
- Selma (Ava DuVernay) — available to rent
- The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution — available to rent
- The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr.) — Hulu with Cinemax
- When They See Us (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
- Antiracism Center: Twitter
- Audre Lorde Project: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Black Women’s Blueprint: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Color Of Change: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Colorlines: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- The Conscious Kid: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Equal Justice Initiative (EJI): Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Families Belong Together: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- MPowerChange: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Muslim Girl: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- NAACP: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- National Domestic Workers Alliance: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- RAICES: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ): Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- SisterSong: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- United We Dream: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
- Anti-Racism Project
- Jenna Arnold’s resources (books and people to follow)
- Rachel Ricketts’ anti-racism resources
- Resources for White People to Learn and Talk About Race and Racism
- Showing Up For Racial Justice’s educational toolkits
- “Why is this happening?” — an introduction to police brutality from 100 Year Hoodie
- Zinn Education Project’s teaching materials