Red. Kathy Dwyer and a congregant engage in deep conversation with a Black clergyman
A woman holds a sign calling for racial justice and poses with a Black female police officer
A family of five hold Black Lives Matter posters

Racial Justice

Rock Spring has long been concerned about, and engaged with, racial equity and justice. Over the past several years as we have experienced a heightened awareness of systemic racism and racial violence, we have sought to become more aware of the issues our community and country are facing, and to more fully understand white privilege.

We seek to partner with other faith communities and organizations that are working to create a world where people of color are no longer systematically marginalized, hurt, or disadvantaged. We would love for you to join us by using your voice, arms, hands, feet, and heart to create change.

“Through our racial justice efforts at Rock Spring United Church of Christ I have gained a profound awareness of the need to dismantle white supremacy and systemic racism. I am awed and humbled by the people, Black and White, who are caring, honest, and resilient as they share their stories in a spirit of lovingkindness.”

Jay Fellows

How are we being called to stand and fight for racial justice and equity?

Rock Spring’s Racial Equity Committee creates programs and opportunities for us to take steps forward, including:

(a) Educational sessions for Rock Spring members and friends to increase understanding of the impacts of individual, institutional, and systemic racism, including an understanding of (i) who, how, and when the Christian Church, European colonialism, and U.S. government officials created, sanctioned, and supported racism, (ii) the impact of white privilege, and (iii) the intersection of racism and other justice issues, such as poverty, voting rights, or environmental justice;

(b) Safe, meaningful, substantive, and bold conversations on race, resulting in (i) meaningful relationships between members committed to the journey of dismantling racism and (ii) an openness to examining ourselves as members of Rock Spring for racism within our own church structure and practices; and

(c) Creating a structure that allows the Rock Spring congregation to consider the extent of its commitment to work for racial justice and equity, including our willingness to bear the costs and risks of confronting systemic, institutional, and individual racism.

Please contact the Racial Equity Committee if you would like to be involved in these efforts or learn more.

Program Highlights

  • Courageous Conversations: How to be an Anti-Racist in Arlington, a joint program with Rock Spring UCC and Calloway Methodist UMC is currently underway (click here for a program outline). This group met for the first time in January 2021, and will continue to gather through June 2021.
  • The Racial Equity Committee launched a six-week course entitled Challenging White Supremacy: Becoming Anti-Racist in partnership with Dr. Beverly Mitchell of Wesley Theological Seminary. The course reached its 100 person capacity within five days of opening registration, and met by Zoom over the summer and concluded in September. In addition to weekly readings and on-line sessions, class participants were encouraged to set intentions for personal work, engage in a self-inventory, share our learning with our family and social circles, and practice what we have learned in our work and community environments.
  • Noting that the United Church of Christ is “among the whitest Christian denominations in America,” the wider UCC’s leaders are launching an assessment of “racial diversity, equity, and inclusion” throughout the UCC. In spite of the UCC’s strong commitments to racial diversity, equity, and inclusion, our congregational reality remains 84% White with no other racial or ethnic group representation exceeding 6%. Find out more.

Educational Resources

We are still learning. For resources on the topic of racial justice to WATCH, LISTEN to, or READ, consider the thought-provoking and educational resources gathered below.

Watch. Listen. Read.

These resources, updated regularly, have been recommended from many diverse sources, including Rock Springers, and may or may not resonate with all of us. Watch, listen, and look for guidance on bringing about the world we humbly believe God intends.

Suggestions for Going Deeper 

  • Take the Harvard implicit bias test. This test takes about 15 minutes, and helps you understand more about how your unconscious mind works and begin moving toward a practice of acceptance, learning, and transformation. This is an Implicit Association Test (IAT) that attempts to measure attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report. The IAT may be especially interesting if it shows that you have an implicit attitude that you did not know about.
  • Sign up to receive updates on the Arlington County Dialogues on Race and Equity (DRE) effort and participate in the conversations. Arlington County is working with Challenging Racism, an Arlington organization founded in 2004 and with which many Rock Springers have been involved, to host a series of Dialogues on Race and Equity this fall.
  • Join the conversation and be intentional about diversifying your news and social media feeds. Sign up to receive email or social media updates from Challenging Racism on the prevalence and inequities of institutional racism, as well as tools and knowledge to challenge racism where you encounter it.
  • Register for the UCC’s Sacred Conversations to End Racism Fall Institute 2021. The seven-week sessions will convene Thursday evenings in September and October 2021 via Zoom with the goal of learning best practices towards dismantling racism. More information can be found at “Race is Not Real – Racism is Real.”