Commission on Religion and Race

harriet bryan quote on race and religion

Anti-Racism Task Force of the Northern Illinois Conference

Goal: To Live Out the Conviction that Racism is Incompatible with Christian Teaching

Did you know that the Annual Conference Shepherding Team (ACST) — a learning team with a primary purpose to coordinate and communicate the ministry of the Northern Illinois Conference in order to make disciples of Jesus Christ — named anti-racism work as one of their Goals for the Conference approved at the 2019 June Annual Conference?

Click here to see the brochure!

Books to know about:

The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church's Complicity in Racism By Jemar Tisby
Reviewed by Jean Ives

This was an easy read in terms of short page length and good writing but hard in terms of confronting facts of how Christian churches in America have for so long practiced acts of overt and intrinsic racism that we now hardly recognize our complicity in it.

The first chapters discuss the history of racism and include a number of grisly descriptions of the atrocities performed in the name of Christianity. The final chapter includes practical ways to address the current state of racial justice in America. Any one of the suggested solutions gives ample substance to ponder.

color of compromise book cover
defend the rights of the needy cover

January 17th Human Relations Sunday

Human Relations Day (Sunday before the national observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday) strengthens United Methodist outreach, encouraging social justice and work with at-risk youth.

Whether you’re surfing Facebook, catching up on the nightly news, or even just driving around town, you will be confronted with people living in the margins— the homeless, the almost homeless, the incarcerated, the impoverished, the hungry. We are called to serve our brothers and sisters in this place. We are called to embrace them; to love them.

Take some personal time — or spend time as a family, leadership team, or small group — to read one or many of the books handpicked for you and your children.

New Books in the Grace Library:

Check out this list of books that discuss racism in our church library!

  • White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, DiAngelo, Robin

  • The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism, Tisby, Jemar

  • Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation, Morrison, Latasha

  • Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference, Keller, Timothy

  • With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America, Smith, Susan K. Willams

Web Resources:

December 2020 Movies and Books for Intercultural Learning

With the increased practice of physical distancing during the pandemic of COVID-19, many are finding more time to watch movies and read books. Why not take this opportunity to learn about other cultures and increase your intercultural competence? We have compiled a list of movies and books that will help you do just that.

Martin Luther King Day — Monday January 18, 2021

Americans have set aside this day to honor the memory of this great civil rights icon and social prophet. Even in a pandemic, there are many ways to honor Dr. King’s memory and witness in 2021. Perhaps sign up together to take an online course addressing specific topics around racism and race relations.

Book Discussion: The New Jim Crow By Michelle Alexander

Beginning Tuesday, January 12, please join members of the 9G Community, and the community at large, on Zoom, from 7:30 p.m. - 8:45 p.m. to learn, discern, and challenge each other on issues of racism.

The current group ranges in age from 23 to 85; all are welcome and diversity of thought is encouraged. Contact Lynn Letizen ( if you would like to join or for more informaiton.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander book cover

UMW Mission U - (Jan. 23, 2021) 9:30am - 2pm.

The Northern Illinois Conference United Methodist Women hopes you will save the date for this virtual program titled "Faith and the Prison Pipeline: Understanding the School-to-Prison Pipeline."

Guest speakers Kristin J. Carothers, Ph.D. and Kenya Cummings will explore/reflect on how children and youth are rerouted by systems and institutions and funneled away from educational success towards the criminal justice system.

Planting Justice and Harvesting Hope with Northern Illinois JFON Poster

Help NIJFON Reach Their Goal

At Northern Illinois Justice for Our Neighbors, we provide free legal advice and services to low income immigrants with limited options. With your support, we can continue to serve clients throughout Northern Illinois in three clinic locations: Aurora, Chicago and Rockford. Locations in Buffalo Grove and Crystal Lake are opening soon. Together let us welcome our immigrant neighbors with the gift of opportunity.

We at NIJFON would like to challenge the 350+ UMC’s here in Northern Illinois JFON to support our shared work for God’s justice, through giving to NIJFON. We are setting a goal to raise $25,000 to match the faithful donation that Berry Memorial UMC gave.

Click here to donate!

A team of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) pastors and church planters developed a five-week >webinar in the hopes that judicatory leaders, pastors, and laity could learn more about the inherent racism in the church and commit to de-colonize The United Methodist Church in America.

decolorizing the church banner
People holding hands

Pray for Change — Read a daily prayer for anti-racism.

Discipleship Ministries and other agencies and bodies of the United Methodist Church are providing resources and guidance on how to become anti-racist individuals and churches. They believe, however, that such a change will not happen unless the whole process is bathed in prayer every step along the way.

Read more about The Worship Team of Discipleship Ministries Daily Prayers for Anti-Racism and subscribe today!

Responding to Current Events and Our Call to End Racism

Grace UMC's Commission on Religion and Race met for several months to craft a statement of belief that reflects their informed view. It is their response to the goal of the Northern Illinois Conference to "address racial injustice as incompatible with Christian teaching," and to the challenge of how the church should lead as we love one another as followers of Jesus. The Grace UMC Church Council has not yet discussed this statement which reads as follows:

July 2020

Grace United Methodist Church’s Commission on Religion and Race believes in Equity for ALL people. We acknowledge the harm, anger, and pain being felt across the country and around the world in connection with racial profiling and police brutality, up to and including the harassment and killings of unarmed Black persons and other people of color. This weakens the body of Christ and is not acceptable.

  • We denounce racism in any form and regret our complicity as the church. We decisively affirm and protect Black lives in all areas of our work, including legislative change in policies and practices beyond and including policing.
  • We acknowledge the frustration and anger that exists in our church family, our community and in our country in response to these injustices.
  • We recognize our own need for learning and growth and acknowledge this will be a difficult and ongoing process.
  • We will work toward ridding our community of inequities associated with race, gender, language, socioeconomic status, and other forms of marginalization.

The value and advancement of marginalized people of color is at the center of our vision. To those suffering or otherwise impacted by racism, prejudice, implicit bias, microaggressions and privilege — we see you, we hear you, and we stand with you. We believe the words of the Apostle Paul to the church in Galatia stand true today, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)