While the complexity of social issues in our society runs deep, we know that systemic issues of racism and inequity are generally at the root of every relief need we are asked to meet. We focus on three core areas to direct our educational and advocacy efforts: Public Education, Social Transformation and Mental Health. We believe that if we can provide greater education and awareness on these topics, actively work to meet immediate needs, and advocate for systemic change in these areas, we can make a significant contribution to create a more just, grace-filled world.
For more than five years, FirstChurch has partnered with J.J. Rhoads, an elementary school in South Dallas/Fair Park. In that work, staff and volunteers were exposed to the educational inequities that stem from larger, systemic social issues. The Public Education group aims to support and extend the work of the schools in the South Dallas / Fair Park Community to make the Lincoln and Madison High School Feeder pattern the most desirable in DISD. This group not only works directly with schools, under the community school model, but also advocates for more sweeping change within individual schools and the school system. Contact Angie Connelly.
While the racial makeup of FirstChurch is predominantly white, it serves a diverse and evolving downtown district and is a faith leader in a city that is growing rapidly as people relocate from other cities, rural communities and countries abroad. The Social Transformation Task Force is focused on identifying the most constructive ways to educate the congregation on social issues, and the most effective ways to build community across racial and cultural lines toward social transformation and reconciliation. This task force offers resources and training to learn and re-learn incomplete, forgotten, misunderstood history, implicit or unconscious bias, and white culture and privilege, and then moves forward to advocate for issues directly related to and impacted by the intersection of race, economics and culture. Contact Rev. Holly Bandel.
Research across a number of disciplines shows that mental health is deeply intertwined with a number of social justice issues, namely criminal justice and educational inequity. To fully address and attempt to deliver justice in our society, one cannot overlook the impact of individual and collective mental health. The Mental Health Task Force focuses on support and advocacy for the underserved mentally ill, support for caregivers, and providing mental health education through faith-based collaboration. Contact Dr. Ed Nace.