by Rev. April Johnson, Reconciliation Minister
In October of 1967, members of the Christian Church gathered in St. Louis, Missouri at the annual International Convention of Christian Churches where a group of those members brought up the distress urban areas across the country were experiencing regarding w issues of racism and poverty. Participants at the Convention felt strongly that the church should make intentional effort to address these issues happening throughout the church and nation. So, they got to work.
Almost immediately the United Christian Missionary Society through the Urban Emergency Action committee received funds to begin providing grants to social services organizations who were already serving communities in the work the church was looking to support. Organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA received grant money to aid in their efforts dismantling societal oppression.
What the church thought would be a temporary fund that would eventually lose interest became a movement. Reconciliation: The Urban Emergency Program consistently met its fundraising goals, with congregations within the denomination generously donating money, overwhelmingly supportive of a mission working within the vain of social justice during the tumultuous civil rights era.
Today, the ministry works to break down systems of oppression that effectively marginalizes people through practices of social and economic exclusion through it education and granting program. Reconciliation Ministry offers anti-racism and anti-oppression trainings throughout the Church to foster a denomination-wide understanding of the importance of dismantling systemic racism and poverty in their community where we serve and participate in mission.
Reconciliation Ministry still participates in funding community organizing networks and church-wide ministries through it granting program and robust anti-racism educational efforts. Exciting programs funded this year include one entitle Reconciliation In Real Time with four congregations in Georgia who meet monthly to determine intersections of their shared social and racial justice witness. Another program funded the Coastal Plains area of Texas to mine their history and visit congregations in the area for conversation that will promote area-wide racial justice programming. During the last week of September and the first week of October, the Reconciliation Ministry Special Offering will be received in congregations. This year’s Special Offering theme is “Embracing the Call” inviting the church to name and live Micah 6:8. Individuals and congregations can donate in their congregations, through the ministry’s website or by mailing a check to the Reconciliation’s office P.O. Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206.