On Behalf of Our Children: Wisconsin’s Racial Disparities and the Call of the Gospel

A Study-Action Guide for Wisconsin Congregations


Wisconsin ranks last among the states in the well-being of African American children, according to a nationwide study conducted by Annie E. Casey Foundation.  Asians and Hispanic children also ranked lower than Caucasians in Wisconsin.

What’s driving these dismal statistics?  And how can congregations play a constructive role in addressing these disparities at the local level?

On Behalf of Our Children, a four-session study guide produced by the Wisconsin Council of Churches, is a good place to start.  The study guide leads you and other adults in your congregation through a thoughtful discussion about race and white privilege, the data from the Casey Foundation study, and concludes with some action planning for you and your congregation to plot your next steps.

On Behalf of our Children is designed to be used in an adult education class, as a mid-week resource (such as a Lenten series) or a half-day retreat.

You can download the Facilitator’s Guide here.

You can download these participant handouts:cross.hands

Session 1-Race and the Gospel

Handout 1

Handout 2

Handout 3

Handout 4

Handout 5

Session 2-The Hidden Power of Race in our Community

Handout 6

Handout 7

Session 3-“Race for Results:” Exploring the Data

Handout 8

Handout 9

Session 4-What is God Calling Us to Do?

Handout 10

Supplemental Resources

Going Deeper with Scripture, the Church and Racism

While the Gospel seems clear on the evil of racism, the church has not always lived up to the Gospel’s call.  Below are four presentations (called “scripts”) which provide historical, biblical, and theological discussions of the church and racism.  The first presentation gives a historical overview of the church’s record.  The second shows how Jesus confronted the racism of his times.  In the third, the author explains how theology has sometimes allowed racism to arise and develop.  The final presentation offers a theological defense of nonviolent activism as the appropriate Christian response to racism. Each presentation is followed by discussion questions. These presentations can serve as the basis of a multi-week adult education class as a follow up to the use of On Behalf of our Children.

Presentation 1-Introduction and Historical Overview

Nick Utphall is an ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) pastor, serving at Advent Lutheran, part of the ecumenical partnership of Madison Christian Community. He’s been a long-time member of the WCC Peace and Justice Commission, and in addition to these resources has also contributed to WCC resources on the death penalty and torture, as well as the biannual lectionary reflections.

Presentation 2-Confronting Racism with Jesus

J. Denny Weaver is Professor Emeritus of Religion at Bluffton (Ohio) University. He lives in Madison where he is a member of Madison Mennonite Church, and a long-serving member of the WCC Peace and Justice Commission. His writings deal with issues of peace, justice, and nonviolence in theology. His most recent book is God Without Violence: Following a Nonviolent God in a Violent World.

Presentation 3-Accomodating Racism

Presentation 4-Unheard Voices and Nonviolent Struggle

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