About Allies for Racial JusticeBuilding 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.
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.
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.
Dr. Emanuel Cleaver III preaches at Resurrection
Stand Together KC
Joint Leadership Training
Eighty-five leaders from Church of the Resurrection and St. James attended a Leadership Training at St. James – Paseo Campus.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration &
Strength to Love Challenge
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.
Clarence Jones preaches at Resurrection
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.
ARJ Summer Connections
Unpacking the Story of Race
- 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?
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.”
MLK Day Celebration: A Transformative Conversation on Race Relations
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
MLK Day Celebration:
“True Justice” Documentary Screening
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.