Action Resources for White Faith Leaders Against the Burning of Black Churches

“My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within; my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed, because children and infants faint in the streets of the city.”–Lamentations 2:11 

SURJ is co-sponsoring the national Week of Righteous Resistance (WORR) beginning on Sunday, July 12 and ending on Saturday, July 18th.   

Please join SURJ by organizing or participating in one or more of the following actions. 

The suggested schedule for the week of action is:

Sunday: LIVE FREE / Black Lives Matter Sunday: preach, pray, act with an emphasis on giving to the Rebuild the Churches fund. 

Monday/ Tuesday/Wednesday: Teach-ins and Trainings on organizing, building justice ministries, history of the struggle, and events 

Thursday/ Friday: Screenings of “3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets” or another film focused on police brutality (please note- there are only screenings scheduled in certain cities.  If that film is unavailable, we suggest showing Every Mother’s Son or Fruitvale Station.

Saturday: Counter-rally at state capitols to respond to planned South Carolina KKK rally.

Also, we are asking that churches around the nation direct resources to rebuilding churches. Click here to donate.

No matter how you choose to participate it’s important for us as white people to take visible action during the week.

If you or your congregation is holding an event or action please post information on the SURJ website so others in your area can participate.

You can also search for events in your area here.


The History and Context of the Terrorizing of Black Sacred Spaces

Centuries of Violence, By Dr. Kindada E. Williams, Associate Professor of History, Wayne State University, Slate Magazine,  19 June 2015

“Reconstructing the American Tradition of Domestic Terrorism,” By Dr. Heather Cox Richardson, Professor of History, Boston College,, 18 June 2015

Why White Terrorist Attack Black Churches, By Dr. Matthew Cressler, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, the College of Charleston, Slate Magazine, 19 June 2015

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Christian Interdenominational

#BlackLivesMatter Call to Clergy from October Week of Action

“My challenge is simple:                                                         

  • Listen intently to the cries and challenges of young people of color                        
  • Pray for justice in the streets of Ferguson and throughout our nation                                  
  • Act by getting involved in the local struggle for racial justice in your community”

By Dr. Troy Jackson

A Call To Worship: Standing In Solidarity with the Churches Whose Buildings Have Been Burned 

"The acts of racism have once again breached the walls of Your church.”

The clergy’s place is with the protestors

“White anxiety cannot become the measure of this movement or of the nation. Our movement must not be guided by the need to assuage white discomfort in the face of righteous black rage. Too often, there has been minimal or fleeting efforts by many in the liberal white community to address police brutality and the bone-crushing poverty exacted upon black bodies across this nation. If we rush to accommodate and appease those white liberals whose presence on the streets of Ferguson has been negligible, we betray the blood of the innumerable Mike Browns of America.”

by Rev. Osagyefo Sekou

Hands Up Sabbath: A Toolkit Remembering Ferguson

by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, PICO, Sojourners, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Metropolitan Congregations United, Eden Theological Seminary and other faith partners.

White Christians: It's Time to Stand in Solidarity With Your Black Brothers and Sisters                    

“Let me repeat: the unified family of God is the answer to the problem of race in America. For years, black Christians have invited white Christians to participate in the unified family of God by leaning into justice issues that affect black people.

White Christians, are you ready to wake up???”

by Christena Cleveland, Ph.D

It’s Time for Whites to Accept Responsibility for Racist Systems

“To my white brothers and sisters: you can’t continue to say you are not racist when you continue to accept and support systems that are. It’s time for white people to take responsibility for our acceptance of racist systems.”

by Jim Wallis, Sojourner

How to be a White Ally in a Racist World

“So let’s say that recent, well-publicized events of Police brutality and overreach in relation to African Americans has awakened a desire in you, as a White American, to do something about racism—to try and make a difference. First of all, let me congratulate you. You are on a journey that can and very likely will be one of the most rewarding of your life—the journey to learn about race politics and people whose physical appearance and heritage are different from your own….However, I do think I have a few pointers that might help people on the same journey.”

by Denise Clapsaddle

Race, Faith, & Justice: Part 1: Keynote by Rev. Sekou Part 2: Panel Discussion Part 3: Q&A

In three parts, this video series, is from a live forum hosted by Warner Pacific College in Portland, OR. With the Rev. Sekou giving a keynote, and a panel featuring Dr. Daymond Glenn (VP of Warner Pacific), JoAnn Hardesty (Pres. Portland NAACP, former member of Oregon legislature), and Eric Knox (Pastor of Imago Dei Community Exec. Dir. of Waterhouse Network).

Topics discussed: The national crisis of racism, white supremacy, the role of churches, civic engagement, how churches can support protest movement.

Models and Authorizations: An Interview with Walter Brueggemann.

“There are a variety of strategies that run from face-to-face engagement to pressure on public policy. We have to engaged on every front because the issue is so urgent and the problems are so complex that there cannot be a single strategy. As we grow in our commitment to racial equality or social justice we have to be very imaginative. We have to find ways that have transformative potential.”

By Walter Brueggemann in interview with Micky Scottbey Jones for Theology of Ferguson.


I am Muslim ARC                                                                                                                                 

“And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge.” [30:22] by the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative

Respond With Love: Rebuild Black Churches

“As Muslims we know the importance of protecting the vulnerable and respecting people who call on God in their various tongues. We want for others what we want for ourselves: the right to worship without intimidation, the right to safety, and the right to property. We must always keep in mind that the Muslim community and the black community are not different communities. We are profoundly integrated in many ways, in our overlapping identities and in our relationship to this great and complicated country. We are connected to Black churches through our extended families, our friends and teachers, and our intertwined histories and convergent present. Too often cowards inflict us with a crippling fear, but with encouragement and support from likely and unlikely places fear cannot stop us.”

#BlackLivesMatter Toolkit for Muslims

“We call on Muslim community leaders  to unite and take a stand for police accountability and racial justice. This is an important juncture in our history for freedom struggles.”

by the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative


Lamentations, Racial Biases, and the Confederate Flag: A South Carolina Rabbi's Perspectives

“What do we read when there are no good words? As I thought about the text to teach following the tragedy at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, my mind fixed on the nine murdered. Murdered in their church, a holy sanctuary of God. Murdered because of who they were – because of the color of their skin. I turned not to the five scrolls of Torah, but to the book of Lamentations, called in Hebrew simply Eicha. Alas! Lament!”

by Rabbi Leah Doberne-Schor

A Prayer for Ferguson

“I live in two worlds. I am Jewish and I am black, and I am calling out to the Jewish community to please take notice of these past events, not just the events in Ferguson but the number of black men and people of color in our society who are stopped by police, arrested by police and even killed by police... We as a Jewish community can no longer say these issues do not concern us.”

by Sandra Lawson  

The Voice of God

“On the police violence front, we follow the leadership of the young black organizers who emerged from Ferguson, Missouri. When we as rabbis speak out, bringing the power of Jewish tradition and the privilege of our station to bear on these issues, we seek to amplify the divine echoes we hear in our compatriots’ words.”                                                                                      

by Rabbi Lev Meirowitz Nelson  

Charleston Massacre

by Marge Piercy

Prayer for Synagogues for Shabbat Vayeshev 5755/December 13, 2014, The Day of the March on Washington

“Help us, dear God, to turn a constructive ‘moral video camera’ on our society, on our lives, so that we can be honest about the continuing and worsening structural inequities, in housing, education, and employment as well as in law enforcement and criminal justice, because without this honest accounting, there can be no profound change and no long-term peace”

by Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub

This Sunday, I am Fasting for Black Churches

“On this 17th of Tammuz, we Jews are mindful that there is no greater communal violation than the violation of sacred space. And as the walls of ancient Jerusalem were once violated, and now the walls of the contemporary black church are being violated.”

by Rabbi Seth Goldstein

Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council Statement as Black Churches Burn 

"God's houses are on fire. The palace is burning and we cannot, must not look away. We are compelled to ask: who is in charge here? Will we continue to countenance such acts of hatred? Will we allow white supremacist terrorism to threaten the fabric of black life in the U.S.?" 


United Church of Christ

The Way of Love

by Ernest Larkins, First Church Berkeley Worship

Charleston Violence, Unspeakable Grief

“Let us put our faith to action and be more than empty drums that have long lost their melodies or arrangements. Let us remove our instruments from the poplar trees and call the people, the public officials, and, yes, the church to action to address the festering sores of racism, classism and militarism—as they intersect in this culture of violence. How can we begin to eradicate this evil without acknowledging the realities of racialized policing, hate crimes, and the disproportionate acts of violence against Black and Brown bodies?”                                            

by Rev. Waltrina Middleton, UCC National Minister for Youth Advocacy and Leadership. Her cousin was one of those killed in the massacre at Emanuel AME Church.

A Prayer for Historic Emanuel AME Church
by Rev. Nancy Taylor, Senior Minister, Old South Church, Boston, MA

UCC Call to Prayer for Mother Emanuel AME Church

“The heart of our nation must break wide open to feel the pain of our divisions. The body of our nation must turn itself inside out to expose the sickness of our collective culture.”

A Pastoral Letter on Racism:  A New Awakening

“Eradicating racism will happen only as we take action to produce conditions that will allow for the fullness of life for those who have suffered its destructive impact, as we work to reorient institutions that perpetuate racist practices, and as we dismantle systems that coalesce to produce racial injustice.”

from the UCC Collegium of Officers


When There is No Peace: Where are the Saints? Reflections on Visiting Ferguson

“The message of the Gospel is that there is a Force more powerful than Empire, more powerful than White Supremacy, and these protesters are preaching the Gospel! I saw in their faces not only righteous anger and determination, but also joy, because they have discovered that they are free because, like Jesus, they no longer are walking in the fear of death....As people who believe in the gospel of peace, now is a time that presents an amazing opportunity for Mennonites to give flesh to our beliefs.”

by Pam Nath


An Open Letter: To Buddhist Teachers, Monastics, Priests, Leaders, Ministers, Practitioners, and Clergy

"There is an urgency to affirm that Black Lives Matter and work with religious and secular communities to respond to racial injustice."                                                                                 

by Buddhists for Racial Justice

Buddha + Black Lives Matter: A Racial Justice Reflection Toolkit

“#ICantBreathe, an outcry against Eric Garner’s unpunished murder...For those most likely to endure anti-black violence in our society, breathing isn’t just a conduit for mindfulness.  It can also be survival. It can also be resistance. It can also be defiance in the face of a state that has both commodified black life and deemed it worthless.”

from Buddhist Peace Fellowship                  



An Open Letter to Communities of Faith, Religious Leaders, and Justice Seekers,

“While some have criticized the form that this protest took as both dangerous and ineffectual, we have come to understand it as part of the disruptive work that we are called to do as spiritually rooted, theologically grounded faith leaders working for social change.When systems of oppression seem intractable, disruptive action becomes an important first step in transforming them.”

from the American Baptist Seminary of the West


United Methodist

On if Black Lives Matter

“As the events of the past year continue to unveil the present realities of police violence, an unjust justice system, unequal housing opportunities for people of color, unequal access to education, and so many more problems too subtle to see at first glance, we have the opportunity to answer the question, what shall we do? I propose that we do something. As the United Methodist Church. As congregations. As Sunday School classes. There are lots of opportunities to join the prophet in asking, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” (Isa 58.6).

from the 13 United Methodist theological schools

Why Black Lives Matter NOW

“Black lives matter” is because those three words are disputed. They are disputed by the systems in our society that continue to function as if black and brown lives do not, in fact, matter.”

by Gabe Horton

Burning sacred havens: We must be vigilant against unspeakable acts of hatred -

“The burning of many black churches in recent weeks reminds us of our need to be ever vigilant against acts of hate and racism. Historic black churches are central to the life of communities, sacred sites of praise and refuge, homes for those often faced with discrimination and segregation, and centers of outreach into the world.”

General Board and Secretary, United Methodist Church



The Church is Not Dead Yet

“Our faith is based on the belief in the death and resurrection of a brown social revolutionary who was put to death by the state for declaring with his words and actions that the lives of the poor, marginalized, and dispossessed matter. If the U.S. Catholic Church, and indeed the global Church, cannot collectively respond to the ever expanding #BlackLivesMatter movement in an uncompromisingly supportive and radical way, then the Church (in its present structure) is DEAD. But I do not believe that the Church is yet dead.”

interview by John Slattery with Dr. Shannon Dee Williams



The Stones Cry Out

“We believe quite simply that Black Lives Matter. We say Black, not All, because the sacredness of all life isn't on the line right now in the United States of America.”

by Rev. Winnie Varghese

Statement from National Union of Black Episcopalians

“The heavy cross being borne is that of lynching, church burnings and bombings, police brutality and the murder of innocent worshipers. Even until today, the children of "Black Simon" continues to be "laid hold upon;" grieved but determined souls struggling with Christ towards justice and peace for all. The Union of Black Episcopalians call upon all in our churches and community to join us in prayer, moral support and visible actions of support for Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, S.C.; and, also, the public repudiation of racial violence and injustice in our society.”



Dear White Christians

“Our job is to finally listen and to respond. White Christians are called by God, right now, to repentance and to the biblically-required work of repair that always accompanies it.”

by Jennifer Harvey

Churches are Burning and I am Responsible: For too long, white Christians have Believed the Lie that Racism is Dead

“Our nation doesn't have to be this way. Churches do not have to be burning. Innocent lives do not have to be lost. Together, we can bring an end to this dark night and step into the light of justice and peace. But it will take a lot more than blog posts and prayer vigils. It's going to take those of us with privilege changing the way we live our lives; changing the way we teach our children; changing the way we interact in the world.”

by Brandan Robertson

Evangelicals, Reconciliation, Justice, and the Powers That Be.

“I heard it said today by someone, “I’m trying to deal with my own stuff on race but that’s all I can do.” That’s the American evangelical problem, isn’t it? We think we’re only as big as our hearts. It’s only our motives and thoughts that need to change. Race is an individual sin problem and the solution is conversion or repentance.”  

by John Lussier at Theology of Ferguson.



Feeding the Flame for Racial Justice

“Strategy, tactics, coalition building, and organizing all need to take place but so does gathering in community to tell our stories, be vulnerable, and share new visions that can replace the old ones. Safe spaces for communion, sanctuary, and healing are needed in a world that is too often aggressive, hostile, and dangerous, especially for marginalized communities. What if faith communities can help to create those spaces?”

by Greg Elliot

Hidden Wholeness: Stepping Into Faith to Undo Racism

“So many movements around the world point to a great emergence, a shift of understanding and a realization that we, together, must learn another way to live. A cloud of witnesses stands beside us in our meeting houses and on the streets praying us into being, cheering us on, calling us to take the next step.

by American Friends Service Committee

Working Document of the Undoing Racism Group of the Pennsylvania Yearly Meeting

“We commit to hold ourselves accountable to co-create a new kind of Pennsylvania Yearly Meeting (PYM) community committed to undoing racism and examining and ending white privilege within PYM.”



From a Moment to a Movement

“Many want sustenance that can keep us going for the long journey to face the systemic problems that led to the shooting of Michael Brown… I’m sharing what Presbyterians from across the country have shared with me.”

from Larissa Kwong Abazia

What Romans 16 has to do with Ferguson, MO: Listening to the Voices of a Stranger,

“What has happened in Ferguson and in places all over the nation demands a response by us if we want to take seriously the gospel.  So let us open ourselves up to listen to the voice of the stranger.”

by Rev. Erica Liu

Sermon: Oh Lord, What Shall We Do?

“This call from King 50 years ago is a call white churches today must hear and take seriously in the midst of racial turmoil around us because too many of us just wish we could close our eyes and make it all go away.”

by Mindy Douglas, Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church

A Call to Presbyterians to Stand in Solidarity with the People of Ferguson

“Sisters and Brothers, we must stand arm in arm with the people of Ferguson.  Black bodies matter and our white bodies will signify that the killing of black bodies is unacceptable.”

Keeping the Movement

“If you want a break, you can’t have it.  If you want to deny that there are broken systems at play that favor some over others, you cannot do that any more.  If you want to catch a breath, you’re reminded that Eric Garner said, “I can’t breathe.””

by Larissa Kwong Abazia


Unitarian Universalist

UUA President's Statement on African American Church Burnings

“We must not just proclaim black lives matter. We must also engage and act with love and compassion. It is the only way to stop the hatred from spreading. We can make a difference, and we must. It is a matter of life and death. Black lives matter.”

Notes to a White Religious Leader

“All of us who are white have a responsibility to raise white babies and white children to know the full expression of anti-racist commitment, values, and action. We must play an active role in helping end the spiritual and emotional poverty of white supremacy that trains white people to inhabit resentment, isolation, depression, self-pity, and self-hatred and direct all of it towards communities of color, with anti-Black racism at the heart of this darkness.”

by Chris Crass

Black Churches Burning White Supremacy Burning

“When sacred space is terrorized, when that which is sacred is desecrated by hate or fear, we must name it and organize against the power arrangement [white supremacy] that makes it possible.”

by Rev. Deanne Vandiver

A Unitarian Universalist Black Lives Matter Theology

“Right now we as Unitarian Universalists are being called to act. We are being called by our ancestors–those who insisted, who demanded that we help end slavery, that we fight for suffrage, that we join the struggle to end Jim Crow, that we listen to and honor Black Power. Lydia Maria Child and William Lloyd Garrison are calling us. Lucy Stone is calling us. Fannie B. Williams and Frances Ellen Harper are calling us. James Reeb is calling us. Viola Liuzzo is calling us.”

by Kenny Wiley

Further collection of Unitarian Universalist Resources 


A Prayer for Troubling Times,

In these times of burning churches

That engulf the skies at night…

Light the fire that guides our way.

Kindle within us the flame of inspiration.

By T. Thorn Cole

On grief (in response to the shooting in South Carolina)                                                                   

“There are so many reasons for us not to ignore the significance of this moment in time, the lives that have been lost and the need for us to push change into manifestation. We need healing, our ancestors need healing, our communities need to healing, our children need healing.”                                                                                                                                     

By Crystal Blanton



Thanks to Ali Roseberry-Polier, Betty-Jeanne Rueters-Ward, Sam Hamlin, Molly Casteel, Jason Lydon, Cathy Rion Starr, Dara Silverman, Meta Mendel-Reyes, Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, Leslie Butler MacFadyen, Rev. Hank Peirce, Steve Knight, Erika Bach, Matt Cummings, Matt Lowe, Dawn Haney, Micky ScottBey Jones, Elizabeth Mount, Jake Dockter, Ashley Horan, Keith Brooks,Chris Crass, Pam Nath, Elizabeth Durant, Denise Clapsaddle, Michelle Walsh, Seth Goldstein, Shakira Abdul-Ali, T. Thorn Cole, and many more for time, energy, work and feedback to compile these resources.

SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice.

Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability.

We work to connect people across the country while supporting and collaborating with local and national racial justice organizing efforts. SURJ provides a space to build relationships, skills, and political analysis to act for change.

For more information please visit our website, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.  

Want to get more involved with SURJ? Let us know here.