Leadership Council Meeting:
Deciding the Future of ACTS Social Justice
When: Tuesday, June 6th, at 7:00 pm.
Where: Hopps Memorial CME Church
Address: 1110 S State St, Syracuse, NY 13202
Four times a year, the Leadership Council of ACTS convenes with social justice activists from all over Central New York. As the policy-making body of ACTS, the Leadership Council directs the future of our collective efforts. With far-reaching changes emerging on the federal and local level, it is more urgent than ever to unite for our community’s well-being. ACTS member organizations, individual members, members of the clergy, and those affected by deep-rooted issues in our society should attend and cast their votes for various considerations at the Leadership Council Meeting. Actions for June 6th include the approval of new Members, organizing of educational reading-groups, and a proposal to resist the repeal of the Johnson Amendment, among other things.
Roger Williams, a founder of the Baptist tradition in America, once said that a wall of separation must exist between the “garden of the church” and the “wilderness of the world.” According to Williams, the integrity of our nation’s spiritual center is tarnished by financial entanglement with the mucky waters of politics. At the time, William’s viewpoint was common opinion, and so the Johnson Amendment was passed in 1954 under a Republican congress. The Amendment defends the first amendment by preventing tax-exempt organizations, such as churches, from colluding with partisan politics. Essentially, a minister cannot preach politics from the pulpit without first losing his congregation’s tax-free status. For half a century, this provision prevented political and spiritual disaster.
Differing Viewpoints: Secular or Theocratic
Founding Fathers Vs. Alliance Defending Freedom
Since 2008 many conservative church movements have spoken out, intentionally preaching politics to the ire of secular institutions. The White House administration has caught wind of the controversy and advocated a full repeal of this protection for free speech. If the Johnson Amendment is repealed, political candidates gain financial incentive to run on single-issue platforms in accordance to their patron church, rather than for the benefit of the multi-faith, American public. As an organization of conscience, ACTS must respond to these developments before our voice is drowned in the clatter. A vote will be held at the Leadership Council Meeting to decide if this affront on the Johnson Amendment is addressed, or deprioritized.
Other Meeting Topics
ACTS is committed to dismantling systemic racism in our society, and so must contemplate all aspects of its existence. An uncomfortable topic within racism is “white privilege,” the idea that Caucasian citizens benefit from societal systems to a greater degree than people of color. Apprehension to discussion of “White Privilege” is harmful, and neglects the multi-faceted approach that must be administered to end racism.
Longtime activist Peter Sarver has initiated a proposal to form educational reading groups on the subject. Two books, America’s Original Sin, by Jim Wallis, and Waking Up White, by Debby Irving, have been highlighted by the proposal. Recruitment for participants and group leaders would occur throughout membership congregations and across Syracuse. If an ACTS-sponsored, transformational reading group sounds good to you, then attend the Leadership Council meeting and cast your vote.
Aside from those two proposals, plans to expand the ACTS circle of alliances will be discussed. As a reassurance of that plan, two new membership organizations will be approved: First Unitarian Universalist Church, and the Abundant Life Christian Center. Opportunities for leadership training with Gamaliel (our parent organization), and details for a “Facing Race and Power Summit” in Maryland, will be announced. Finally, those who attend the Leadership Council meeting will be able to state their opinions on how financial resources should be allocated amongst ACTS priorities. These financial resources are utilized by our task forces, coalitions, and Leaders to recruit staff and undertake projects.
If you want your voice heard for social justice, then the ACTS Leadership Council on June 6th is the ideal setting. Together we will build what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called the “Beloved Community,” a sanctuary of justice, equity, and compassion.