“As Christians, we must root out fear, and commit to … practices that help us to ground our actions … in love.” — former Moderator Jordan Cantwell
What We Believe
The United Church of Canada has made a commitment to becoming an anti-racist denomination. A short document, “Working Towards Becoming an Anti-Racist Denomination,” explains more about what this commitment might mean. People in the church are working on frameworks and strategic directions—including ways to involve of the whole church—to continue to deepen the church’s anti-racism work.
This anti-racist commitment is part of the church’s ongoing work toward racial justice.
The United Church of Canada has a long history of condemning racism: For decades, the United Church has condemned all forms of racism, named racism as sin, and worked to eliminate systemic racial discrimination. People in the United Church have developed anti-racism policies and education programs, worked towards reconciliation and Indigenous justice, adopted the Calls to the Church, and created intercultural policies and initiatives. In spite of this steadfast and faithful work by committed people over generations, the reality of racism in the church is ever-present.
―Working Towards Becoming an Anti-Racist Denomination
The United Church of Canada’s anti-racism policy, That All May Be One, names four key areas of work:
- Organize for the full participation of all peoples.
- Organize for diversity by supporting anti-racism work and promoting positive relationships among diverse peoples.
- Act justly within the church’s structures, courts, policies, and practice.
- Speak to the world by supporting anti-racism work within broader society.
Our commitment to racial justice includes building right relationships with our neighbours, particularly reconciliation between non-Indigenous and Indigenous peoples. It means engaging in interfaith dialogue and speaking out against violence and discrimination rooted in racial and religious bigotry, including Islamophobia and antisemitism. It finds expression in our intercultural vision. It means having the courage to talk about racism and White privilege in our church and in our society.
As Moderator Jordan Cantwell put it in 2017, “We need to name and examine our fears, prejudices, and assumptions. The privilege that many of us are born with may desensitize us to the injustice, exclusion, and hate that some in our community experience on a daily basis.” Only in that way can we build, as “That All May Be One” envisioned, a church and society “where all are welcome, where all feel welcome, and where diversity is as natural as breathing.”
What You Can Do
UN International Decade for People of African Descent
The United Church of Canada and the United Church of Christ (USA) are jointly participating in the UN International Decade for People of African Descent (2015–2024).
2020 Prayer Cycle
2020 marks the midway point of the UN Decade. We invite people to pray throughout 2020 for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of people of African descent. Explore the resources under Downloads, below.
Follow the United Church on Facebook and Twitter to virtually participate in our Prayer Cycle. Consider amplifying these prayers or sharing your own on social media (use the hashtags #AfricanDescent, #UCCan, #UCC).
Challenging White Privilege
The United Church of Canada’s White Privilege Working Group is part of the church’s movement to becoming an intercultural church, the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, and our commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Alongside the church’s commitment to anti-racism and to challenging anti-Black racism, identifying, understanding, and dismantling White privilege has been prioritized by the church.
Many resources are available for worship, study, and reflection. A small sampling is available below and under Downloads.
Communities of faith may wish to plan a time of worship and prayer related to anti-racism. It may be helpful to view the online worship service United against Racism, which was hosted by the Black Clergy Network of the United Church on June 14, 2020 (video embedded above).
Other resources for reflecting on anti-racism in worship include
- International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (March 21)
- Worship resources on intercultural themes
- Black History Month (February); Asian Heritage Month (May)
Reflection and Learning: United Church
- United Church Policy:
- Commitment to becoming an anti-racist denomination (2020)
- A Short Timeline of Racial Justice Work in the United Church
- Working Towards Becoming An Anti-Racist Denomination (2020)
- “That All May Be One” (2000)
- That We May Know Each Other: United Church–Muslim Relations Today (2006)
- Bearing Faithful Witness: United Church–Jewish Relations Today (2003)
- Mending the World: An Ecumenical Vision for Healing and Reconciliation (1997)
- Racial Justice Training: the United Church online workshop, and related resources and links
- United Church work on reconciliation and Indigenous justice, interfaith relations, and interculturalism
Reflection and Learning: Ecumenical
- World Council of Churches, Being church and overcoming racism: It's time for transformative justice
- Canadian Council of Churches, Cracking Open White Identity Towards Transformation: Canadian Ecumenical Anti-Racism Network Examines White Identity, Power and Privilege (excerpts and ordering info)
- Deepening Understanding for Intercultural Ministry, a program of the Forum for Intercultural Leadership and Learning
For more information, please contact:
The 43rd General Council’s electronic meeting on June 20,2020, received as new business the proposal Towards an Anti-Racist Denomination.
We need to acknowledge the reality of institutional racism, including within the church, and call for its eradication.
The Moderator calls the struggle against anti-Black racism to be the work of White members of the church, and the time has come to commit…continue reading
Leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada, and The United Church of Canada have issued a joint letter…continue reading
The United Church is profoundly saddened and outraged at the attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue.
Racism and Islamophobia practised by individuals and nations continue to destroy God’s beloved community.
|White Privilege: A Workshop||3.63 MB|
|Awkward Conversations about Racism||171.38 KB|
|Two Churches Are Better Than One||509.71 KB|
|Excerpts from That All May Be One: A Resource for Educating toward Racial Justice||360.61 KB|
|Excerpts from We Belong: Celebrating Cultural Diversity and Living Hospitality||39.36 KB|
|Ending Racial Harassment: Creating Healthy Congregations||267.58 KB|
|Knowing My Neighbour: A workshop on Islamophobia||345.65 KB|
|What to Wear? A workshop for youth on Islamophobia||405.82 KB|
|How to Be an Ally: Islamophobia at the Intersections||3.99 MB|
|Light and Dark Imagery in the Bible||18.01 KB|
|Recommended Resources from the White Privilege Task Group||143.19 KB|
|United against Racism logo||222.82 KB||image/jpeg|
|International Decade for People of African Descent: 2021 Prayer Cycle, January||129.62 KB|