UVC Enables “Delving Deeper” into Race
October 3, 2019
For the last three years, under the aegis of the theme Skin in The Game, United Voices for Children (UVC) has succeeded in creating courageous space and facilitating critical conversations on how race—on both a systemic and individual basis—affects the ways that children and families are served. This year’s workshop, held on September 14th and entitled “Delving Deeper; Race and Well-Being,” convened a diverse group of more than 50 people, including, faith leaders, educators and social workers who serve children and their families.
The workshop was facilitated by a team from Evanston Township High School led by Dr. Marcus Campbell (Assistant Superintended and Principal) along with Aracely Canchola (Department Chair for Student Services) and Taya Kinzie LCSW (Principal for Student Services). They shared how racial bias has historically tracked black and brown students out of honors/advanced placement classes. With a refreshing candor the team shared that Evanston Township School District had a long way to go, but they have begun the journey toward equity in educational opportunities. UVC President Robert Biekman noted that “one of the elements of the workshop I found particularly illuminating was the way the presenters ‘carefronted’ participants by asking them to check in and share their feelings after a challenging subject was addressed.”
UVC board member Catherine Inserra spoke to the importance of the workshop: “Every day I hear stories in the news about racism and hatred which is so discouraging and scary. Spending this time together with Marcus, Taya, Aracely and a room filled with people who truly care about others and were vulnerable to delve deeper was so encouraging. The presenters know what they are talking about because they live it every day in the context of a high school environment!”
The ideas and strategies presented by the leaders were further amplified by a panel of youth presenters: Dan Barton from Trinity UMC Mt. Prospect; Emily Laureano, Lakeside Congregation for Reform Judaism; and Natalie Overstreet, Community UMC Naperville. The youth spoke frankly and honestly about the challenges they face navigating racially-diverse settings in their schools and community. The youth panel was moderated by UVC board member Pamela Pirtle who reflected that: “Our panel of young persons was excellent, diverse and insightful. All of the adults who attended learned something from their well-thought responses.”
UVC board member Joy Hayag noted the significance of the workshop for her as someone who has stepped into U.S. society and culture. “Moving here and learning how to embrace the American culture and still not losing the identity and my roots has been a challenge. Being a Filipina and sometimes being the only Filipina Asian in a group is sometimes difficult, especially experiencing always being the minority. I have learned to love and accept and be proud of my culture and color and accent. There is always that fear of being rejected for being different in color, in actions, in dress and in communications.”
UVC board member Jacki Bogolia summarized the affirmative reaction of many participants: ”I feel both grateful and hopeful after attending this workshop–grateful for the presenters and youth panel who shared their insight, wisdom and real-life experience of race as it impacts learning, success, and human relationships; and hopeful after gathering with so many folks who were willing to become aware (perhaps for the first time) of how race continues to be used as an intangible, sometimes invisible, tool to categorize, divide, privilege and condemn human beings.”
UVC board member Timothy Biel echoed these observations: “Great presentation by the ETHS team on racial bias. Their message is hopeful and engaging. I was encouraged by the elimination of the advanced placement testing for high school classes and how that impacts access to A.P. classes for all students. I liked how they challenged us to view our assumptions about race and ethnicity, giving us time in small groups to discuss what our thoughts were. The youth panel kept it real, engaged the participants with honesty and urgency.”
It has been many decades since the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered. Yet none of us can say we have fully lived up to Dr. King’s vision of a land where each person would be judged by the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin. Through events like Skin in the Game, United Voices for Children continues to address the ill-effects of racism by be a conduit for information and a catalyst for support to advocate for children and their families.
United Voices for Children expresses great appreciation to the Northern Illinois Annual Conference for co-sponsoring the Delving Deeper workshop and to Downers Grove United Methodist Church for its gracious hospitality in hosting the workshop.
Register Now for Delving Deeper: Race & Well-being Workshop
June 13, 2019
Registration is open for the Delving Deeper: Race & Well-Being workshop coming up on Saturday morning, September 14, 2019. Delving Deeper will feature Dr. Marcus Campbell, Aracely Canchola and Taya Kinzie, LCSW–Evanston Township High School’s best–engaging participants in a deeper look at the interconnectedness of race and well-being, reflecting on personal identity and biases as they relate to our relationships with others. The workshop is intended for a wide variety of community practitioners: social workers and social service agency staff; teachers and educational administrators; law enforcement personnel; first responders; as well as clergy and children’s & youth workers. The workshop will highlight how healing-centered engagement and restorative and sustaining practices are key to understanding the number and complexities of needs in the lives of those we serve and support.
Delving Deeper will be on Saturday, September 14, 2019, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at First UMC in Downers Grove, Illinois. Register by September 9th at this link. After that date, call 773-316-8892 to ensure space available. The $25 fee includes lunch.
Delving Deeper is the third annual Skin in the Game workshop sponsored by United Voices for Children and the Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church seeking to challenge and equip religious and community leaders to overcome the deleterious effects of racism in our communities and our families.
You can download a flyer to share with others here: Delving Deeper flyer.
Direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
UVC Announces Annual Awards
April 30, 2019
United Voices for Children has announced the recipients of its 2019 annual awards for outstanding advocacy and service for children and youth throughout Northern Illinois. The Bishop Jesse R. Dewitt Award will be given to Rev. Dr. Norval Brown for his years of dedicated advocacy for and ministry with children, youth and families in need. The Katherine B. Greene Child Worker Award goes to two recipients: Leigh Ann Piper of Lanark UMC for founding the Pitter Patter Pantry to serve children of low-income families in Carroll County and to Ann Daniels of Christ UMC Rockford for 41 years of service leading children’s programs in the church and community. The Rev. Margaret Ann Williams Service Award will be given to Sharonda King of Christ the Carpenter UMC in Rockford for developing and leading two praise dance teams for children and youth.
These persons will be honored at the United Voices for Children (UVC) Breakfast on Tuesday morning, June 4th, at 6:45 a.m. during the Northern Illinois Annual Conference session at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center in Schaumburg. To make a reservation for the gala UVC Breakfast ($20/person) contact email@example.com by May 24th.
The Breakfast will also feature Avik Das, Chief Probation Officer and Acting Director, Circuit Court of Cook County, speaking on “Chutes and Ladders: Positive Youth Justice.” United Voices for Children is a coalition of congregations and individuals in Northern Illinois dedicated to speak and act on behalf of children, youth and their families as well as to support ChildServ, MYSI, and Rosecrance which are United Methodist-affiliated youth-serving agencies.
Youth Talk About Race
December 19, 2018
The youth panelists from United Voices for Children’s August 25th workshop, Colors of Love: Raising Children in a Racially Unjust World, have spoken out in a video broadcast. Jaelyn Pirtle (Gorham UMC, Chicago), Lucy Hermann (Trinity UMC, Mt. Prospect) and Abigail Mendoza (First UMC, Park Ridge) were interviewed on a recent Different Drummers show produced by Greater Chicago Broadcast Ministries.
In this 10-minute video Jaelyn, Lucy and Abigail reflect on their experience of being on the panel at the Colors of Love workshop and share their observations about how race appears and is addressed in their communities. They call for churches, schools and other group to engage in more open dialogue about race and how it affects the lives of so many persons.
UVC commends Jaelyn, Lucy and Abigail speaking out publicly about a subject that too often is kept under wraps. They model the importance of taking risks to deal with questions and challenges around race that deeply impact the lives of children, youth and families and keep us from realizing God’s Beloved Community. UVC board president Robert Biekman affirmed that “The Colors of Love event and the testimony of these youth represent an opportunity for United Voices for Children to create brave space, bring relevant resources and connect people who serve youth at the intersection of mercy and justice in effective ways.”
Parents and Educators Grapple with Challenging Racism
September 8, 2018
Sixty persons representing 25 congregations in northern Illinois gathered on Saturday, August 25, for lively conversation about how to confront and challenge racism as it impacts the lives of our children and youth.
The Colors of Love: Raising Children in a Racially Unjust World workshop featured a presentation from Dr. Jennifer Harvey, professor of religion at Drake University, whose research addresses the encounter between religion and ethics, race, gender, activism, politics and spirituality in the U.S. Dr. Harvey challenged parents, clergy, and educators to consider how to be effective in making their children aware of U.S. racial realities, while simultaneously nurturing their children’s emotional resilience and a healthy sense of racial identity. In particular, Harvey used personal stories to demonstrate how the common approaches of “colorblindness” and “diversity” fall short in responding to our deeply racialized and hierarchical society. She offered suggestions for how parents and church leaders can stretch themselves to adopt “antiracist” ways to communicate with and empower our children and youth.
Following Dr. Harvey’s provocative presentation, three high school youth shared their personal experiences and reflections on how they have confronted racism in their lives and relationships. Lucy Hermann (Trinity UMC, Mt. Prospect), Abigail Mendoza (First UMC, Park Ridge) and Jaelyn Pirtle (Gorham UMC, Chicago) talked insightfully about what they have learned and who has influenced them in observing and challenging racism at their schools, churches, and home.
Rev. Darneather Murph-Heath, Elgin District Superintendent, opened the workshop with a prayerful and impassioned invitation to the attendees to be open to being changed by what they heard that day—and then to be that change they want to see in their families, communities, and churches.
“I appreciated Dr. Harvey’s caution that if parents, teachers, church leaders and other caring adults practice ‘white silence,’ our children’s default formation about race will come from TV, friends, school, social media, and others. White silence occurs when white people become silent in the face of racism rather than engaging our children by stepping in and stepping up to name, confront, and challenge actions as racist. Ignoring manifestations of racism by silence fosters and festers racism,” reflected Kim Coffing, United Voices for Children (UVC) President.
UVC board member Ed Miner left the workshop realizing that, “We need to talk to kids about our attitudes about race. They know more than we think they do and they learn it earlier than we think. Our own attitudes may be incomplete but we need to talk to our kids anyway.”
Another UVC board member, Meg JungEun Park, succinctly identified helpful components of Dr. Harvey’s parenting strategy: 1) create a race-conscious schema in children’s early development by talking about difference early and often; 2) develop “racial scripts” to become attentive, careful interpreters of the stories of/from others; 3) develop an anti-racist “agency” by complicating history (and stories people tell) at every turn. Park noted that “Our kids need to wrestle with the complex stories of what actual people have done and what people actually still do.”
Christine Hides, UVC board member, expressed hope for what we can do: “What was most powerful for me was seeing a diverse group of faith-filled people confront an issue that impacts the lives of all our children. With practical tips and resources like this workshop, churches can and should place where the evils of racism are identified and actively resisted.”
UVC President Kim Coffing also looked ahead to next steps after the workshop: “UVC is committed to confronting the issues that put children at risk in all of our communities and equipping churches to advocate for our children’s well-being. Racism puts us at risk of losing our children. Racism in our churches destroys our credibility of being witnesses of a God who loves us all. It is our task to let God make a difference through us.”
Colors of Love: Raising Children in a Racially Unjust World was sponsored by United Voices for Children (www.unitedvoicesforchildren.org) in collaboration with First UMC Elmhurst, Christians Engaged in Faith Formation, Commission on Religion and Race in Northern Illinois and the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Dr. Jennifer Harvey’s 2017 book, Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America is published by Abingdon Press and available from Cokesbury.
Register Now for Colors of Love Workshop
June 4, 2018
Registration is open for the Colors of Love: Raising Children in a Racially Unjust World training event coming up on Saturday, August 25, 2018. Colors of Love will present practical guidance and resources for clergy, leaders of children & youth and parents featuring Dr. Jennifer Harvey and a panel of Northern Illinois youth. Dr. Harvey is professor of religion at Drake University whose research addresses the encounter between religion and ethics, race, gender, activism, politics and spirituality in the U.S.
Colors of Love will be on Saturday, August 25, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at First UMC in Elmhurst, Illinois. Register by August 22nd at this link. After that date, call 773-316-8892 to ensure space available. The $25 fee includes lunch.
The first 20 persons to register will receive a free copy of Dr. Jennifer Harvey’s most recent book, Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America. Others can purchase a copy of Raising White Kids from UVC for $18, including shipping. Place your order at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colors of Love is co-sponsored by United Voices for Children, First UMC Elmhurst, Northern Illinois Commission on Religion and Race, the Christian Educators Fellowship Chapter and the Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church.
UVC Announces Annual Awards
May 1, 2018
United Voices for Children has announced the recipients of its 2018 annual awards for outstanding advocacy and service for children and youth in Northern Illinois. The Bishop Jesse R. Dewitt Award will be given to Deacon Wes Dorr of United Church of Rogers Park (Chicago) for his dedicated advocacy for and ministry with urban children and youth. The Katherine B. Greene Child Worker Award goes to two recipients: Karen Klaus of First UMC Crystal Lake for instituting the Nathaniel’s Hope Buddy Break program for special needs children and their families; and to Chana UMC for its recreational, education and social service ministries with rural children and youth in its community. The Rev. Margaret Ann Williams Service Award will be given to Licia Knight of St. Mark UMC (Chicago) for her lifelong service of establishing a Children’s Church and directing a dance ministry, among other ministries with children and youth.
These persons will be honored at the United Voices for Children (UVC) Breakfast on Tuesday morning, June 5th, at 6:45 a.m. during the Northern Illinois Annual Conference session at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles. To make a reservation for the gala UVC Breakfast ($20/person) contact email@example.com by May 25th. United Voices for Children is a coalition of congregations and individuals in Northern Illinois dedicated to speak and act on behalf of needy children, youth and their families as well as to support ministries in the Conference serving these children and youth.
You can find more information on each awardee on this page.
Fr. James Swarthout to Speak at Annual Breakfast
March 23, 2018
The Rev. James E. Swarthout will be the featured speaker at the United Voices for Children’s Annual Breakfast on Tuesday, June 5th, 2018. Fr. Jim Swarthout has been involved in mental health and addiction counseling for more than 33 years. He has master’s degrees in Divinity and Social Work and is a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor and a Certified Intervention Professional. He is Director of Clergy and Alumni Relations for Rosecrance Health Network. His work is to align interdenominational awareness and support for bishops, clergy and faith communities. Within Rosecrance Fr. Jim is also engaged working with Trauma and Invitational Intervention. At the Breakfast Fr. Jim will speak on “’The Art of Possibility.”
United Voices for Children (UVC) is a coalition of congregations, agencies, groups and individuals in the Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church that speaks and acts on behalf of children, youth and families in need. At the Annual Breakfast UVC will honor the many congregations and individuals who are supporting its mission. In addition, UVC will present three awards to honor extraordinary volunteer service or advocacy efforts on behalf of children, youth and/or families in Northern Illinois. Learn more about UVC and its programs at www.unitedvoicesforchildren.org
The UVC Annual Breakfast will be held at 6:45 a.m. at the Pheasant Run Resort, in St. Charles, Illinois, during the session of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference. Advance reservations (cost of $20) are requested to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 25, 2018.
UVC Receives Culbertson Bequest
January 31, 2018
The United Voices for Children (UVC) Board of Directors is both grateful and pleased to announce receipt of a financial bequest from the Estate of Nancy Culbertson. Nancy Ruth Culbertson of Melrose Park, Illinois passed away February 18, 2016 at the age of 71.
Friends report that Ms. Culbertson’s church was her family and she was a long-time active member of Wesley United Methodist Church in Cicero and later transferred to River Forest United Methodist Church. She worked several summers as a camp counselor at both Wesley Woods and Camp Reynoldswood, and served as registrar at the Proviso Food Pantry. She had retired from a long professional career with Sanford Ink Co.
According to her pastor at Wesley UMC Cicero, Rev. Lynn Pries, “Nancy was a faithful United Methodist Christian all her life and lived frugally and had no heirs. She wanted her inheritance to make a difference in the lives of children.”
Kim Coffing, UVC president stated, “UVC is indeed overjoyed to receive this generous gift from Nancy Culbertson’s estate. We are deeply moved by her demonstration of how someone who appeared to be unassuming assumed the best for children and teens through her legacy of a bountiful contribution to UVC.”
The bequest was made through the Northern Illinois Foundation and totaled approximately $35,000. More than half of this amount has been disbursed to support the ministries of the three child-serving agencies affiliated with UVC: ChildServ, MYSI and Rosecrance. The UVC Board is still considering how to best utilize the balance of this generous gift to appropriately serve the needs of children and youth in need.
United Voices for Children is a coalition of congregations, agencies, groups and individuals in the Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church that speaks and acts on behalf of children, youth and families in need.
Skin in the Game Workshop
June 14, 2017
Congregations in Northern Illinois are invited to participate in an important growth and training opportunity, Skin in the Game: Equipping Congregations to Challenge Racism. This half-day workshop on August 19 will provide practical guidance and resources for clergy, lay leaders and Christian Educators to address one of the most troublesome issues in our churches. The guest speaker will be Rev. Dr. Felicia LaBoy who has 14 years of urban and multicultural pastoral ministry as someone who moves from the “seminary to the street, from the pulpit to the pavement.”
The Skin in the Game workshop will be held at First UMC Elmhurst on Saturday, August 19th, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration fee of $10 is requested to cover expenses. Advanced registration is requested here.
Skin in the Game is cosponsored by United Voices for Children, the Northern Illinois Chapter or Christians Engaged in Faith Formation and the Northern Illinois Annual Conference.