The following is a message from Connecticut Conference Minister The Rev. Kent J. Siladi, Massachusetts Transitional Interim Conference Minister The Rev. Don Remick and Rhode Island Transitional Conference Minister The Rev. Marilyn Kendrix:
Three years ago we initiated a focus on racial justice ministry within our Conferences. We hired Toyan Harper as our Racial Justice Associate. In the time he has been with us Toyan, or TJ as he is called, has done exceptional work.
- He has trained facilitators for Racial Justice Trainings (RJT)
- He has conducted dozens of trainings throughout the three Conferences.
- He has continuously adapted, updated and developed the RJT curriculum and approach
- He has provided blogs, video recordings and a growing body of resources on a newly developed Racial Justice webpage.
- He has led workshops in and created curriculum for churches, community venues, schools and Conference programs like our Super Saturday and Reviving Justice events.
- He has kept racial justice at the forefront of our staff thinking and our Conference leadership and governance.
- He has provided curriculum and consultation nationally with our UCC
- He has helped other UCC Conferences use the RJT model and develop their own resources around it.
- He has changed the awareness, perception, thinking and behavior of hundreds of people.
The funding for the Racial Justice position comes to an end in August of 2019. And TJ is following his plan for the next chapter in his life. As he writes: “In general, my plan is to pursue a graduate degree in social administration and policy from the University of Chicago, where I will study how to mitigate, and one day close, the racial wealth gap.” We celebrate his acceptance into the graduate program at the University of Chicago. They are lucky to have him. And we are grieving losing him.
We are also keenly concerned that we not lose this focus and momentum during this transitional time as we shape and develop our new Together, As One
Conference. Our Conference Ministers along with the TA1 Board are looking at ways to fund and develop a bridge position for a Racial Justice Associate who can continue the excellent and essential work that TJ has begun.
In the coming weeks you will hear more about the development of this position and about our plans to celebrate TJ and the gift he has been to us.