Board of Church & Society

    Next meeting of the

Conference Board of Church and Society is

Saturday, October 7, 2017  10:00 AM      

at the Conference Center, 20 Soundview Ave, White Plains, NY

  All are welcome!

Make sure you don't miss a meeting!  Mark your calendar now for these meeting dates:   November 4, December 2, January 6, February 3, March 3, April 14, May 5

These meetings will all be held in the Conference Center, 20 Soundview Avenue, White Plains, NY


Did you celebrate Peace with Justice Sunday yet?  There is still time!

Download a bulletin insert about this important Special Sunday here.


Responding to hate with love through prayer, action, and repentance

A response to Charlottesville on August 17, 2017:

Dear Justice Builders,

According to the United Methodist social principles, “we recognize racism as sin and affirm the ultimate and temporal worth of all persons. We rejoice in the gifts that particular ethnic histories and cultures bring to our total life.”

This weekend in Charlottesville, VA even as white nationalists and neo Nazis lashed out with rage and hatred, people of faith showed up as a witness of love that stood up against the evil that is racism. Let us rise in solidarity with them in our own communities building up love and tearing down hate. As we process our hurt and anger, our faith moves us to respond with loving prayer and action as well as repentance.

We pray for the family and friends of Heather Heyer who was killed and for all who were injured when a domestic terrorist ran his car into a group of people who were standing for justice. We pray for the families and friends of the two troopers who were killed while monitoring the unrest. We pray for and stand in solidarity with all who feel threatened or hurt in body, mind, or spirit because of racist violence. And we pray for those who are experiencing and living out this hatred that their hearts and minds would be transformed through God’s grace.

In the midst of violence and tensions, we are challenged to model what it looks like to stand up and speak out whenever and wherever we encounter injustice. Neighbors in our own communities are engaged in racist activity overtly and covertly. Our youth are regularly exposed to words and actions that disparage people of color. Often they are not equipped to denounce the racism they experience. Our churches must stand with moral clarity.

Bishop Bickerton expresses in his powerful letter:

In each liturgy found in our hymnal, these words are repeated over and over again:

  • Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?
  • Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
  • Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?
  • Will you remain faithful members of Christ’s holy church and serve as Christ’s representatives in the world?
  • Will you faithfully participate in its ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness?


Read these vows again. Pay attention to the words underlined. These are the “strongest possible terms” anyone could use in addressing the injustices associated with the actions of white supremacy, neo-Nazism, and blatant racism. They just so happen to be the words associated with what we have been asked to do every day as United Methodist Christians. We renounce wickedness, reject evil, resist oppression! We accept God’s power and confess our need for God’s grace! We strive for faithfulness, long to represent Christ in the world, and pray for the courage to strengthen our witness! This is who we are called to be!


As people of faith, and particularly as followers of Jesus Christ we remember and live out the vows made in our baptism. We are called every day to stand on the side of love, the perfect love that casts out all fear.

The United Methodist Social Principles state, “We commit as the Church to move beyond symbolic expressions and representative models that do not challenge unjust systems of power and access.” In that spirit, here are some resources to help equip you and your church to lead in the face of racism:


New York Annual Conference:

Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton Responds to Charlottesville Events:

Interfaith Prayer Vigil for Charlottesville and the Nation, hosted by New Rochelle United Methodist Church, Thursday August 17 at 7:30pm
Effective Christian Leadership in a Multicultural World: CCORR Anti-Racism Training Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at 8:30 AM to Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 4:00 PM, Mariandale Retreat & Conference Center, 299 North Highland Ave, Ossining, NY 10562

Churches, Activists and Police in Solidarity for Loving, Outspoken Communities or CAPSLOC is designed to get to the root causes of police violence in a way that highlights the humanity and needs of each individual involved. CAPSLOC brings together members of minoritized communities with the police who serve there. Workshops, and especially the follow up decisions will be tailored to each community they happen in. For more information or to get involved contact Jennifer Berry at

Across our Connection

Statement from Bishop Ough, President of the Council of Bishops about the violence in Charlottesville:


Statement from the General Commission on Religion and Race:

Religion and Race Denounces the Recent Violence and Racism in Charlottesville and Calls for All United Methodists to Love in Action


Tell AG Sessions: Protect the civil rights of people of color and religious minorities Join with Church and Society General Secretary, Susan Henri Crowe in calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to prioritize racial equity and justice.

NY CBCS partner Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ NYC) have indicated that leaders in the Movement for Black Lives have called for a national day of action this Saturday, August 19th, to demonstrate the strength of opposition to resurgent white nationalism.

I invite you to add to this list on the NY Annual Conference Church and Society Facebook page.

Together we will cover our region and the world with peace with justice in the name of Jesus Christ.

In solidarity,

Rev. Melissa Hinnen

Chair, NY Annual Conference Board of Church and Society


Christmas Cards for Prisoners!

Join in our simple social justice project that your whole Church,

from Sunday School to Quilt Group, can do!

  1. Download Christmas cards in various designs. (Here's a tip:  print the cards on cardstock or 28lb. paper if your printer/copier doesn't take get two to a page!)
  2. Not sure what to write?  Here are some Suggested greetings for the cards.
  3. Plan when you will do this:  coffee hour?  Council meetings?  Sunday School?  Prayer groups, book clubs, committee meetings?  We have lots of time to collect cards! Have people in your church or small group fill out the cards with their personal greetings and first name only. Also, no need for envelopes!
  4. Collect all completed cards from your church and mail the cards together (no separate envelopes) to: CBCS, c/o Sheila Peiffer, Coordinator, 40 Lincoln Ave, Wallingford, CT 06492  (CBCS will take care of distributing them to appropriate prison chaplains)
  5. Mail all cards by December 4, 2017. (this gives you time to write the cards on the first Sunday in December, but they must then be mailed the next day at the latest - earlier is better!)

Be sure to only use a first name when signing your card and don’t use a specific greeting since we don’t know who the card will go to.  Cards with last names must be eliminated, so please make sure people know this!

 Thank you in advance for bringing a small measure of joy to these “least of my people”! (Mt 25:40)


CBCS was in Albany on Tuesday, May 2 to lobby for the HALT Solitary legislation which will reduce solitary confinement in New York.

Read about our undertaking here.



Take Action against  Violence!

Churches, Activists and Police in Solidarity for Loving, Outspoken Communities or CAPSLOC is designed to get to the root causes of police violence in a way that highlights the humanity and needs of each individual involved. CAPSLOC brings together members of minoritized communities with the police who serve there. At the heart of the program is an interactive experience in three parts facilitated by clergy, activists and police community relations officers. First the group will name and explore implicit bias together (we are all subject to media and culture images which lead to our prejudging others, especially young Black men). With that in the forefront of the mind, participants will move on to an interactive roleplaying. The goal is twofold: help participants get through a police interaction safely. But more fundamentally the goal is to help community members and police be clear about what these stops mean to them, how they feel during them and why, and become empathetic to the person on the other side of the stop. Finally the group will explore what new understandings they have reached and begin the real work: deciding what the new community created in the room wants to do in response to their newfound understandings. Workshops, and especially the follow up decisions will be tailored to each community they happen in.

For more information or to get involved contact Jennifer Berry at

Take Action for the Environment!

For a great adult Sunday School bible study any time of year, we recommend To Serve and Guard the Earth.

To go directly to the downloadable study, To Serve and Guard the Earthclick here.

CBCS joins with many others in rejoicing in the decision of the Army Corps of Engineers to block drilling in the disputed section of the Missouri River and seek alternative routes for the Dakota Access Pipeline.  We will remain vigilant on this issue and will be ready to renew our efforts for environmental justice if this decision is challenged. 

Read Standing Rock Tribal statement here.


Take Action against Solitary Confinement!

For a summary of how to take action for reform of Solitary, click here.

To know more about the campaign against Solitary nationwide go to:

To know more about the campaign against Solitary in Connecticut go to:

To know more about the campaign against Solitary in New York go to:

For podcasts about life inside prison produced by inmates go to:

For an editorial about Solitary and minors go here

The United Methodist Church, through its Board of Church and Society, is working for humane alternatives to solitary confinement.  If you are interested in an "Action Kit" about how to abolish the torture of "solitary", please email us.  We are providing a "ready to roll" packet which will include a 40 minute DVD Breaking Down the Box, discussion questions about the film to ensure a lively conversation, postcards to be written and mailed to government officials, a reproducible bulletin insert, FAQ sheet about the complex issues that surround the topic and links to more resources and ideas.  We hope that this fall will see every church talking about how Solitary Confinement is torture!  Email us if you want an Action Kit:

Read the article from The Vision about the cell replica and the CBCS dinner speakers here.

Some of the ongoing CBCS projects:

In the area of mass incarceration and prison ministry:

  • Campaign to support the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123) This  is still a very active campaign.  Read about the General Board of Church and Society's interfaith meeting on June 15th, here.  If you haven't yet, please do call your senators at 800-826-3688 to urge their support for the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123). Feel free to use the sample scripts below:

  • "Hi, my name is                     . As a person of faith I believe in the power of redemption and support a criminal justice system that offers second chances. I urge Senator                 to not only support the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123), but to urge Senator McConnell and Senator Reid to make passing it a priority!"

  • Distributing Action Kits about Solitary Confinement (see above)

  • Sponsoring a conference-wide all-day Symposium on matters related to prison ministry and mass incarceration:  "I was in prison and you...." on October 1, 2016.  Our day was a great success!  If you were with us and have not yet done so, please click here to fill out our evaluation form.

  • "Prison Ministry" series of articles in The Vision

  • The Study Guide for Cross and the Lynching Tree is still available hereClick here to download a copy of this Study Guide.  To watch the video of Dr. Cone talking about this subject, click here: (this replaces the link inside the Study Guide which no longer works)

In the area of Immigration:

  • Bishop Bickerton presided at an Immigration Vigil and Forum sponsored by the Immigration Task Force and CBCS at Hicksville UMC on Friday, January 20, 2017. 

  • Bishop Jane Middleton presided at the  interfaith Immigration Prayer Vigil on Monday, April 25th at St. Paul and St. Andrew church in Manhattan.  

  • Immigrant Welcoming Community Training held in February started  fifty-four people on the process of building teams for a justice journey in ministering with recent immigrants.  Contact us if you are interested!

  • Become a Sanctuary Church!  Read more about Sanctuary here.

  • Help everyone understand immigration policies and immigrants' rights!  Click here to download "know your rights" booklets in English and Spanish.

  • For the latest Immigration updates, please visit the Immigration Task Force page! 



      Join us at future CBCS meetings:   October 7th at the Conference Center

                                                               All are welcome!

Contact Sheila Peiffer at or call 518-334-6076 for more information.


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