ORUCC Faithful Action for Justice


Faithful Action for Justice

Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ

March 2024

Faithful Action for Justice provides announcements and information from ORUCC’s Justice missions (Care of Creation, Immigration Justice, Heart Room, Racial Justice, Christian Witness and Service, Palestine Justice).

Nobody can do everything. Saying yes to some things requires saying no to others. Our health and obligations limit us. As you read, briefly celebrate and pray for people doing something you will not join. As you feel called, click on links or reach out to a project’s contact person to learn more.

Our justice mission teams provide information on issues that may be controversial, speaking to the congregation but not for the congregation.

In this issue

  • Updates from Palestine justice
  • Learn about April 2 ballot amendments affecting elections
  • Volunteer opportunity: Meadowood Center housing navigator
  • Updates from MOSES: Literacy curricula, ending prison lockdowns, treatment instead of prison for mental illness, report from Gamaliel
  • Reports from January 27 meeting on addressing Indigenous issues

Palestine Justice

Please continue to pray for a ceasefire in Gaza. To learn more about Palestine-Israel and our Mission Team’s activities, please visit https://orucc.org/justice/palestine. This page includes a link to Recommended Resources, including links to trustworthy news sites.

Recent updates include:

  • Quilts for Gaza – quilters, fabric donations, and shipping cost donations welcome!
  • Meet Palestinian Christian Usama Nicola on Sunday, April 7 before worship – Mark your calendar!
  • A petition sent to President Biden
  • The webinar recording from Tom and Diane’s January 3 presentation is now available. If you missed their series this summer, this is a great recap!

Constitutional amendments on April 2 primary ballot

Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice and other organizations urge us to inform ourselves about two items on the April 2 ballot and advocate “no” votes on both. These amendments arise from disputes about the 2020 election and prohibit “outsiders” from supporting efforts to increase voter access. You can read more on Ballotopedia about the pros and cons of Question 1 here and Question 2 here. An article providing more background is here.

Volunteer with Housing Navigator Pilot Program

Our neighbor congregation, Good Shepard Lutheran Church, is partnering with Joining Forces for Families to pilot a Housing Navigator resource for people in our Madison campus neighborhood. They are looking for 3-4 volunteers who would be willing to work with individuals experiencing challenges finding housing. You would get training on how to do this and would make a real difference in people’s lives. If you are interested in working on this exciting pilot program, please contact GSLC’s Director of Outreach Rick Thomas.

News from MOSES

Quality Literacy Curricula for Children

The Racial Justice for All Children task force has been focusing on improving reading ability for all children. As part of this, it has called on MOSES members to support high-quality literacy programs based on the science of reading in a letter-writing campaign to the Wisconsin legislature’s Joint Finance committee. This nationwide movement–which has received bipartisan legislative support–arises from the widespread use of scientifically discredited teaching methods that are especially harmful for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Support letters are needed by March 5 to reaffirm last year’s decision to mandate high-quality curricula only rather a more expansive “minimum standards” list offered by the Department of Public Instruction. You can read more about this issue here.

Treatment Instead of Prisons for Mentally Ill People

Wisconsin law currently supports diversion from jail or prison to treatment programs for people with Substance Abuse Disorder, but not other mental illnesses. WISDOM and MOSES have advocated for expanding eligibility for diversion to other mental illnesses. This advocacy had overwhelming bipartisan support in the Wisconsin legislature, but speaker Vos blocked a vote on the bill. Advocacy continues. You can read more here.

End the Lockdown

MOSES and WISDOM members continue to advocate for an end to the inhumane lockdown in Wisconsin prisons due to staff shortages. A 14 minute interview with WISDOM staffer Mark Rice provides a great deal of information. Capitol Chats with WISDOM re Prison Lockdowns

You can read Gamaliel’s Annual Report for 2023, Gamaliel is the nationwide parent organization of MOSES and WISDOM.

Please contact Pam Oliver or Barbie Jackson if you would like to learn more about MOSES.

Meeting on Indigenous Issues and Building Use

On January 27, Pastor Julia led a mini-retreat to discuss possible ORUCC responses to knowing the history of the land our building is on. Several small groups discussed different themes. Here are their reports. In addition, a committee was formed to consider developing a land acknowledgement. It will report later.

Connections and Actions

(Longer notes by Tom Beilman edited by Jill Westberg)

We will connect with other religious and secular groups already at work and with local Indigenous people.


Examples of what is currently happening:

  • 1st Congregational, Appleton contributes money and opens their church to artisan fairs where local Indigenous artists can display and sell their art and their crafts
  • There is a group in McFarland working for the return of the Mounds in McFarland.
  • There is an interfaith group for Indigenous Justice that usually meets at McFarland U.C.C. 
  • Kerri Parker will speak there on March 5th
  • St. Dunstan’s Episcopal in Madison has established a a “voluntary land tax” given to the Ho-Chunk for use of their land. 
  • Other churches have made donations for scholarships, purchase of equipment, and “language reclamation” programs.

What we at Orchard Ridge can do:

  • Be on the lookout for lectures and tours
  • Visit Native museums and other museums with sections on Native American history
  • On-line sources including Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council and Ho-Chunk Nation
  • Books including Patty Loew’s Indian Nations of Wisconsin
  • Take the Sacred Landscape tour offered by UW-Madison Anthropology Department (Since this meeting we are on the waiting list for people 18 and up.
  • Research our land and write a Land Acknowledgment

Kerri Parker emphasized:

  • Need for humility (ask them what is needed)
  • Need to be present on an on-going basis
  • Need to build a relationship. Show up for meetings, activities, etc.
  • This is not a “pity” party
  • Gift-giving, including symbolic gifts, is important to Native Americans

Education for ourselves (Ann Haase Kehl)

Education principles to be honored in the Indigenous justice initiative: generated at discussion on Saturday, January 27, 2024

  • Acknowledge and educate ourselves about the uniqueness of the Indigenous people’s experience of injustice and profound resilience to fully inform our actions
  • Avoid creating emotional labor for Indigenous people consultants through investigation and utilization of existing programs and resources already in place, including public events
  • Support and strengthen each ORUCC initiative addressing Indigenous people injustice by providing background education material for the congregation that includes all generations

Children (John Lemke)

Broadly speaking, our focus was on the education and well being of children, both in our church and in our community. We settled on these ideas:

  • Indigenous people focus on seven generations – parents, grandparents, and great grandparents before us, and children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren after us. We agreed that this framework could help us as we consider how to do all of our work as a church.
  • The public schools are seeing the right things and focusing in the right places, but they suffer from resource constraints. Member Barbie Jackson is on the Superintendent’s Wellness Advisory group.
  • Black families still find Madison and Dane County unwelcoming
  • Connections with other churches, in spite of potentially troublesome theological differences, could be instrumental in doing effective work. Awaken Dane is a program that we might consider. 

Building Use (Pam Oliver)

We discussed past building use by community groups and what would be involved for the future. We considered the problems of sharing the building with MMC and cleaning and setup given only part-time staffing. We wondered whether community groups need spaces or whether they, too, are still slow to return to in-person gatherings. We agreed we should be open to information about needs for space. We also briefly discussed concerns about the large areas of grass on the property.

Land Acknowledgement Task Force

As a follow- up to our January 27 retreat discussion regarding justice for Indigenous Peoples, a Task Force has been charged to develop a Land Acknowledgement Statement for consideration – and ultimately a vote — by the congregation. This statement will aim to:

  • describe the history of the land used by ORUCC
  • acknowledge our nation’s and ancestors’ role in the injustices suffered by Indigenous Peoples related to the acquisition and use of this land
  • affirm commitment of ORUCC to ongoing congregation education and active engagement in Indigenous Peoples justice issues

The process of developing a Land Acknowledgment statement will involve consultation with Indigenous Peoples resources, connecting with other churches, requests for input from church members, education and listening sessions, and ultimately a vote on its adoption by the congregation.

The volunteers for the task force are David Allen, Julia Burkey, Susan Dovell, Ann Haase-Kehl, John Lemke, Kerri Parker, and Jill Westberg. 

About our Missions

Interested? Reach out to learn more about our justice teams and projects. Our mission teams welcome your time, talent and energy!

In addition, our Christian Witness and Service ministry connects members to a variety of opportunities to support justice activities (chair:LuAnn Greiner)

Let us love and care for ourselves and each other as we work together for justice and mercy.