About Allies for Racial Justice

Building Bridges of Understanding


Forging authentic relationships to eliminate the existing racial divide in our communities and churches.

Allies for Racial Justice History

In the summer of 2016, the news was filled with officer-involved shootings of African Americans, along with the shootings of five police officers in Dallas, Texas. Tensions between the black community and the officers commissioned to protect them escalated. These conflicts were not new, and secular approaches had done little to resolve the systemic issues leading to these situations. There seemed to be no resolution in sight.

August 2016
Community Forum at St. James UMC

The senior pastors of Church of the Resurrection and St. James United Methodist became determined to transform our congregations and our city into the place envisioned by Jesus, a place where all brothers and sisters in Christ care for and empathize with one another – a transformation that begins with understanding and listening to each other.

We held a community forum at St. James on August 30, 2016, to discuss the racial history and current state of racial relations in Kansas City.

May 2017
ARJ Day at the K

The first relational event bringing together members of St. James and Church of the Resurrection was the Salute to the Negro Leagues day at Kauffman Stadium in May 2017.  Attendees honored the tradition of “dressing to the nines” by wearing their Sunday best to the park to cheer on the Royals as they played the Detroit Tigers.

September 2017
Dr. Emanuel Cleaver III preaches at Resurrection

At the end of September 2017, Dr. Emanuel Cleaver III was invited to preached at Resurrection. His sermon was titled “Understanding Others.” Watch his sermon.

October 2017
Stand Together KC
Following white supremacy rallies in Charlottesville, NC,  Pastors Hamilton and Cleaver III joined with local Rabbi Art Nemtoff to educate their communities about white supremacy. Over 200 people attended the “Stand Together KC” event.
January 2018
Joint Leadership Training

Eighty-five leaders from Church of the Resurrection and St. James attended a Leadership Training at St. James – Paseo Campus.

Dr. Ernest Middleton, Dr. Susan Wilson, Ms. Suzetta Parks Pennington and Ms. Rachel Kabukala presented curriculum developed by Allies for Racial Justice.  Participants were given a specific ask to meet during 2018, get to know each other and develop ways our congregations could interact within their ministry areas by 2019.
January 2018
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration &
Strength to Love Challenge
“Creating Change in a Fractured World”

Attendees celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, enjoyed uplifting music and heard from a panel of community leaders including pastors Emanuel Cleaver III, Shanna Steitz and Adam Hamilton, along with Dr. Theresa Torres. The panel spoke about Dr. King’s book of sermons – “Strength to Love” – and how Dr. King’s positions related to events of today.

Strength to Love Challenge”

Congregants from both churches can continued to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy by taking part in the Strength to Love Challenge, based on the book of sermons by the same name. One hundred and ten people participated, connecting through small group discussions, shared worship experiences and dinners.

Photo credit: The Kansas City Globe
April 2018
Clarence Jones preaches at Resurrection
Resurrection marked the weekend of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination with a guest preacher – Dr. Clarence Jones.  Dr. Jones served as political advisor, counsel and draft speechwriter for Dr. King and influenced the famous “I Have a Dream” speech. As the only one allowed to visit Dr. King while he was in jail, Dr. Jones helped smuggle out the famous “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.”  Watch his sermon.
May 2018
2nd Annual ARJ Day at the K

Over one hundred and thirty St. James and Resurrection members attended the 2nd Annual ARJ Day at the K, which included a salute to the Negro Leagues on ‘Dressed to the Nines’ day –  Sunday, May 7.  Attendees enjoyed a tailgate before the game and participated in the honored tradition of wearing their Sunday best to the park to cheer on the Royals as they played the Cleveland Indians.

Summer 2018
ARJ Summer Connections
In the summer of 2018, ARJ members participated in Summer Connections activities.  These events, sponsored by individual ARJ team members, engaged people on a smaller scale to further relationship building.  Sixty participants enjoyed a variety of activities including –  dinners together, a trip to the zoo, bowling, trivia night and museum tours.
Fall 2018
Unpacking the Story of Race
ARJ members presented a three-week “Unpacking the Story of Race” series at Church of the Resurrection.  Designed to help educate a mainly white audience about issues related to segregation and oppression, this series encourages participants to consider how what they believe from a faith perspective relates to the realities we live in.

Session Topics:

  • That’s in the past; what does it have to do with me?
  • Implicit bias – what we don’t think we think.
  • What’s love got to do with it? Whose culture?
November 2018
Justice for All

For many individuals the entire judicial process is frightening, confusing, and a completely foreign world. Knowledge helps us address our fears and concerns. 

Attendees at the Justice for All forum held at St. James learned directly from Jackson, Wyandotte and Johnson County prosecutors about how the judicial system works, and the safeguards put in place to prevent devastating consequences for our families and communities.  

As part of a weekend of MLK Day activities, Allies for Racial Justice brought in two racial justice speakers.

Debby Irving, racial justice educator and author of “Waking Up White,” led participants through a discussion of how we as a church can continue to unpack and address the systemic issues of racial discrimination that divide our community.

Marvin Daniels, Executive Director of The Hope Center, spoke on “Developing Healthy Communities on Kansas City’s Eastside.”

January 2019
MLK Day Celebration: A Transformative Conversation on Race Relations 

Allies for Racial Justice members attended Storling Dance Theater’s production of “Underground”, on Feb 2 at The Kaufman Center for Performing Arts.  This is a powerful show based on true stories from the Underground Railroad and has brought thousands of people together around the unity that we are all created in the image of God.

A dessert reception before the performance gave people a chance to get to know one another.  Following the show, five small groups formed and went through a month-long study based on the show.  

February 2019
Störling Dance Theater Presents:  “Underground”

Over the summer of 2019, Allies for racial justice sponsored education and social events:

  • A showing of “Best of Enemies,” the story of Civil Rights Activist Ann Atwater and Ku Klux Klan wizard CB Ellis that included a guided discussion after the movie.
  • Juneteenth event at the Nelson Atkins Art Museum
  • A showing and discussion of “Teach Us All,” a documentary examining the U.S. education system from the historic Little Rock Crisis to present-day disparities in access that are culminating to a re-segregation of schools across the nation.
  • Plus other member-led social events like dinners, a family day at the KC Zoo, painting parties, attending plays, art exhibits and more.

Summer 2019
Summer Connections

Racial justice educator Debby Irving returned to Church of the Resurrection in October 2019 to keynote a seminar on equity in education with over 100 educators from around the KC area.

Dr. Tiffany Anderson, Superintendent of Topeka Public Schools  also presented equity and inclusion initiatives that are working to improve the learning environment for children and teachers in Topeka. 

Later that evening, Debby presented her “I’m a Good Person Isn’t That Enough” seminar during an event open to the public.

October 2019
Debby Irving: “I’m a good person! Isn’t that enough?”

Congregants from St. James and Resurrection enjoyed a fun afternoon of food, fellowship and games at Swope Park on October 6th. 

October 2019
ARJ Cookout

Allies for Racial Justice begins work to consider how to engage in Ending Mass Incarceration efforts.  The analysis is based on The Multifaith Initiative to End Mass Incarceration’s (EMI) efforts.  This movement is focused on “catalyzing a faith-rooted response to the issue in a way that adds value to existing work and furthers coherence in faith-rooted efforts. Our vision is for multifaith communities to exercise and amplify their calls for eliminating mass incarceration in a dedicated, savvy, and impactful manner.”

October 2019
 Ending Mass Incarceration

The documentary, “True Justice – Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality”, chronicles how racial justice emerged, evolved and continues in our country. It helps answer the hard questions and allows a better understanding of the history of inequality in America.

Stevenson, an Alabama public interest attorney and founder of The Equal Justice Initiative, advocates on behalf of the disadvantaged, the incarcerated, and the condemned and seeks to eradicate racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.

Following the film, Allies for Racial Justice leaders held an open discussion to explore how we can confront our history of racial and economic injustice and help create equal justice for all.

January 2020
MLK Day Celebration: 
“True Justice” Documentary Screening

April 2021
Churches in Black and White:
Facing Truth – Seeking Solutions

This conversation takes a look at how complicity with racism created and perpetuates the divide in our churches and communities. Representatives from several Christian denominations will discuss the historic role churches played in separating God’s people by “race”, the role culture and politics play in maintaining the separation, and how God’s great command to truly love our neighbors as ourselves could set things right.

Panelists include Rev. Dr. Greg Ellison II, Pastor Darron Edwards, Rev. Yvi Martin, Rev. Jacque McCall, Dr. Bill Brodine, Stewart Curtright and Pastor Nick Kaufmann Mamisashvili. Moderated by Dr. Nicole Price.