From: Rev. Danielle K Bartz
First Congregational Church of Winona, United Church of Christ
In the studies, discussions, and prayers of First Congregational Church of Winona, United Church of Christ, there is one foundational teaching of Jesus Christ that we strive to follow in all that we do as a worshipping community: to love God and neighbor. The hope of the Gospel hinges on that simple but never complete task. And the life and ministry of the Jesus Christ makes it clear that love of God and neighbor are not mutually exclusive. In fact, we believe that they are interconnected in such a way that we cannot truly love one without the other.
Because of our love of God and neighbor, we as a faith community are committing ourselves to the vital work of dismantling white supremacy in our community and world; and calling for an end to police brutality. Our Black neighbors are gasping for breath and until everyone can truly be free and safe, we will continue this work of our active faith.
And as Christians, we draw on the example of Jesus Christ as told in the Gospels as a model for how we live out our faith and belief in God. In the UCC we like to say we worship a “Still-speaking God.” By that we mean, God is still active in the world and as people of faith we are constantly engaging with a living God. In order for us to do this authentically, we must constantly ask ourselves how we respond to the events of our world today by drawing from lessons in history, absorbing new ideas, asking hard questions, and anchoring ourselves in an ancient faith. All of this can feel overwhelming, but it is how we understand what it means to be people of God.
We openly acknowledge that we have a lot to learn about our own complicity in systems of oppression and we are ready to learn out loud. We do not step into this work lightly. We take our faith very seriously and therefore we see this work as holy. We invite the Winona community to join with us in this work.