2018 Focus: Racial Justice and Remembrance


Owning our First Church History of  Enslaved Persons

Read "Owning Our History: First Church and Race 1636-1873", a report on research into First Church's complicity with Northern slavery and subsequent silence on abolition in the years before the Civil War.                         

Congregation’s statement from 2018 Annual Meeting about race and remembrance

The congregation voted unanimously for First Church to “explore a project of public remembrance related to our history of complicity with Northern slavery.”

As we move forward with this public remembrance project, we will continue to ground our conversation in Scripture and theology, seeking God’s grace.  We hope to name this history boldly and speak frankly about issues of injustice, harm, and even the work of repair.  We have been opening discussions with Isaiah 58.


Senior pastor sabbatical

As part of his sabbatical in the winter and spring of 2018, Rev. Dan Smith received a $15,000 grant from the Louisville Institute. The project, entitled “Remembrance and Reparation at First Church,” dovetails with the ongoing work of the congregation to examine its history of complicity with slavery and to explore the work that others have done to face their histories of racial terror and to repair the destruction left behind.


 Worship and arts

  •     Experience African American influences on worship through an exploration of Gospel Music (January)

  •  “Juneteenth” Service on June 17th  lifts up the themes of freedom and liberation, with a special focus on “Juneteenth,” which commemorates the abolition of slavery.  We welcome Dan Smith back to the pulpit, following his sabbatical study on themes of Remembrance and Reparations. The service will feature special music by the Willie Sordillo Quartet.  For more on the history of Juneteenth, go to  http://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/ history/what-is-juneteenth/


  Additionally, First Church is continuing to engage with the following Learning Opportunities.

Call in to your state legislature to support the Safe Communities Act. For information on this issue contact Dave Kidder at david.e.kidder@gmail.com.

To address institutional racism, please call your state representative and Senator, and ask for abolishment of mandatory minimums in sentencing. Ask them to contact the Joint Committee dealing with this legislation. For more background on this...