On September 23, 2023, the gathered body of the Central Pacific Conference of the UCC passed a Resolution of Witness affirming the Apartheid-Free Pledge, which states:
We affirm our commitment to freedom, justice, and equality for the Palestinian people and all people;
We oppose all forms of racism, bigotry, discrimination, and oppression; and
We declare the Central Pacific Conference apartheid-free and to that end,
We pledge to join others in working to end all support to Israel’s apartheid regime, settler colonialism, and military occupation.
This pledge follows on the CPC's declaration that we are a Just Peace Conference of the UCC. That pronouncement articulated the UCC’s position on war and peace as distinct from the historic concept of "Just Peace" and is one of eight “Just World Covenants” or church designations that General Synod has affirmed. The Synod pronouncement in 1985 affirmed the UCC as the first denomination to declare itself “Just Peace” and called on churches to go through an intentional discernment process to mirror that declaration.
At some point in the 1990's this congregation declared itself a Just Peace congregation, affirming that,
We are a Just Peace Church. We seek to keep the vision of shalom central to our corporate and individual lives, working to deepen our understanding of the many dimensions of peace and justice in our time. Through our worship, programs, and outreach, we seek to be a community of reconciliation, hope, and courage, as we work and pray for peace and justice in our world.
The ongoing atrocities being carried out in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel - not to mention Ukraine and Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, against the Uyghur people in China, and on and on - ask us to reflect on how we are living into our Just Peace statement as well as the declaration of the Conference to be an Apartheid-Free Conference.
In Rev. Tyler Connolly's latest message, we are reminded that "There are no monsters", only people who "disconnect their natural inclination toward compassion." This is the impact of trauma, particularly when it is generational in nature. Gabor Mate, a survivor of the WWII Holocaust or Shoah (meaning catastrophe), implores us to retain our humanity even as we grieve and rage about the horrors to which we are witness today.
Tyler goes on to remind us that "there can be no true peace without justice" and that the justice required for our time demands our willingness to understand the complexity of the histories, the traumas that inform our actions now. Peace at the end of a gun or missile is merely submission and subjugation. Subjugation ignored only breeds more violence. The abused become the abusers. And the trauma cycle goes on...
The last thing Tyler says is this - "We are not called to save the whole world, but we are called to love the people closest to us. In moments like this, it's easy to feel impotent and despairing. We are struggling against forces that are thousands of years old, and against warring governments that spend billions of dollars, and marshal military technologies that boggle the mind and could literally destroy the planet."
It is in loving one another, fiercely, WHILE opening our hearts to those who we fear, those we don't understand, and those we call monsters, that we have a chance to retain our humanity and find the resources to keep working for a Just Peace everywhere. Only from a place of love can we effectively oppose all forms of racism, bigotry, discrimination, and oppression. Only from a place of hope can we tune into God's love for us and tune out the world's demand for vengeance.
Please read Tyler's message and check out the resources he offers to help us love each other and the world more fiercely, more justly, and more humanely. May we continue to seek to be a community of reconciliation, hope, and courage, as we work and pray for peace and justice in our world.
In solidarity and love,