CT, MA Conferences to Share Associate for Racial Justice Ministry
Toyan (TJ) Harper – the current Associate for Racial Justice Ministries for the Massachusetts Conference – will be expanding his role to serve in the same capacity for the Connecticut Conference beginning this August.
"We are so excited to welcome TJ to our CTUCC staff," said Connecticut Conference Minister the Rev. Kent J. Siladi. "This collaboration will help our Conference continue its commitment to racial justice ministry. We are building on the work started by The Rev. Day McCallister and the Racial Justice Ministry Team. TJ has had a tremendous impact already in the Massachusetts Conference, and we are overjoyed to partner with them in Racial Justice Ministries."
Harper has been working full-time for the Massachusetts Conference since last fall; he will now split his time between the two Conferences.
This is a new, half-time-equivalent position for the Connecticut Conference. Harper will work with Isaac Monts, the Connecticut Conference’s part-time Program Associate for Racial Justice Ministry.
“We are so excited to continue working with the Connecticut Conference on the issue of Racial Justice, and are extremely grateful for TJ’s ability to expand his already amazing work beyond Massachusetts,” said Associate Conference Minister Kelly Gallagher, who oversees justice and witness work in the Massachusetts Conference. “This collaboration holds great promise as our Conferences seek to work more closely together.”
The goal of the Racial Justice Ministry is to engage every setting of the two conferences in the work of unmasking, dismantling, and eradicating racism to make God’s love and justice real. Harper will provide leadership and training in the area of racial justice ministries; coordinate and guide the work of MACUCC and CTUCC staff, clergy and lay leaders in this area; support and expand networks of racial justice leaders within the conferences; and increase collaboration between the conferences and other organizations working to end racism.
Harper is a graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and economic policy. While in Ohio, he worked on the Young Professionals Kitchen Cabinet in Cincinnati, a group of young leaders who provided policy ideas the the city's mayor. Harper brings a passion for organizing and dialogue and a strong faith perspective of racial justice.
"Frederick Douglass once said, 'If there is no struggle, there is no progress,'" quotes Harper. "In 2017, there is some struggle. We struggle with racism running rampant. We struggle with producing policies and laws that help those who are marginalized. We struggle with achieving equity for all God’s people. But there is some room for progress — progress in the courthouse; progress in the statehouse; and even progress in the White House. And it all starts with talking about racism in God’s house."
Harper offers an invitation to "any pastor, church leader, or parishioner who wants to work together. I hope that our hearts and minds can come together and produce action to unmask, dismantle, and eradicate racism."
Harper begins work in Connecticut on August 14.
This will be the second shared staff position for the two conferences: Tiffany Vail also serves as the Associate Conference Minister for Communications for the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island conferences. The Annual Meetings of the three conferences last week voted in favor of moving forward in the development of a proposal to form a new, combined Conference.