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G.A. Co-Moderators

One Church One Book


Co-Moderators of the 222nd General Assembly (2016), the Rev. Denise Anderson and the Rev. Jan Edmiston, invite the church to join them in a literary journey on race. "One Church One Book" is an opportunity for PC(USA) members, mid councils, and staff members to read, reflect, share and listen, with the help of a variety of resources and conversation-starters provided with each selected book.

Waking Up White Book Cover Always With Us Book Cover

A Special Note from the Co-Moderators
of the 222nd General Assembly (2016)

We have been amazed by the reception of the church-wide book study of Debby Irving’s Waking Up White. In our travels, we constantly hear about churches and small groups who have gathered to read, study, and discuss the book and its themes. And the question repeatedly asked by those who have read and discussed the book is, “What do we do now?”

While everyone’s context is different, we do suggest paying particular attention to how racism makes its way into entire systems. Drawing from Irving’s book, we need to remember that racism is not merely personal; it is systemic. Fighting systemic racism widens the field of concern. If we want to fight racial bias and prejudice, approach it internally and transform the hearts and behaviors of individuals. To fight racism, we must approach it intersectionally, understanding that racism has deep roots in complicated and overlapping systems and we have baked it into the institutions we have built.  Its implications reach far beyond personal relationships and encounters. Economics is an explicit and powerful area in which racism operates widely.

At the 222nd General Assembly, our denomination adopted Item 11-03: On Choosing to Be a Church Committed to the Gospel of Matthew 25. Among the action’s recommendations is that the Presbyterian Church (USA) “[re]commit ourselves at the congregational level, the mid council level, and the national levels of our church to locate ourselves with the poor, to advocate with all of our voice for the poor, and to seek opportunities to take risks for and with the poor (in the soup kitchens and catholic worker houses, among the immigrants, with those working to end mass incarceration, and with those who seek to protect all of us, especially the poorest of the poor around the world, from the vagaries of climate change).”


What Jesus Really Said about the Poor
By Liz Theoharis

Always With Us Book Cover

For the second time as Co-moderators, we are recommending a church-wide book study. This time, we commend to your reading the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis’ book, Always With Us? What Jesus Really Said About the Poor. This book seeks to challenge our understandings of poverty and provide a theological undergirding for anti-poverty work. We believe Dr. Theoharis’ work will be transformational for congregations, both those who want to deepen their anti-poverty efforts or who already have robust ministries. We also strongly encourage Presbyterians to get and stay engaged with the New Poor People’s Campaign, as there will be many opportunities therein “to take risks for and with the poor.” Community, connection, and solidarity are characteristics of vital ministry.  We are grateful for the many ways in which Presbyterians serve to grow God’s reign, and we pray this new resource will help that work continue.


 Tools & Resources

video: Book interview with liz theoharis

more about the new poor people's campaign

New Poor People Campaign BannerIn the summer of 2016, around the same time as the 222nd General Assembly (2016), a grassroots, cross-cultural, and interfaith call to revive Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign was gaining traction in our country. One of the key scholar/activists engaged in this call is Presbyterian minister and director of the Kairos Center at Union Theological Seminary, the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis. Dr. Theoharis has a history of equity and justice activism alongside the poor and her scholarship focuses on the biblical hermeneutics of poverty.

About the Poor People's Campaign
Multimedia Resources for the Poor People's Campaign

resources about racism and intersectionality

Facing Racism - "As part of an ongoing campaign to address racial injustice, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is sharing a wealth of antiracism resources — including studies, books and training — to equip the greater church to work against racism. We hope you’ll return to this site frequently as links to new resources are added between now and the 223rd General Assembly in June 2018."

 Kimberlé Crenshaw's TED Talk on Intersectionality

additional information about liz theoharis

 Photo of Waking Up White Author, Debby IrvingRev. Dr. Liz Theoharis is the Co-Director of the Kairos Center and a Founder and the Coordinator of the Poverty Initiative. She has spent the past two decades organizing amongst the poor in the United States, working with and advising grassroots organizations with significant victories including the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Vermont Workers Center, Domestic Workers United, the United Workers Association, the National Union of the Homeless and the Kensington Welfare Rights Union. She has led hundreds of trainings, Bible studies, and leadership development workshops; spoken at dozens of conferences and keynote presentations across the US and globally; and published several articles and book chapters sharing her vision that poverty can be ended and that the poor can be agents of social change. Liz received her BA in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania; her MDiv from Union Theological Seminary in 2004 where she was the first William Sloane Coffin Scholar; and her PhD from Union in New Testament and Christian Origins. Liz is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Note: Information and materials about author, Liz Theoharis, her book, and the Poor People's Campaign have been presented with permission  from the author. 



and Finding Myself in the Story of Race
By Debby Irving

Waking Up White Book Cover

Waking Up White is the book I wish someone had handed me decades ago. My hope is that by sharing my sometimes cringe-worthy struggle to understand racism and racial tensions, I offer a fresh perspective on bias, stereotypes, manners, and tolerance. As I unpack my own long-held beliefs about colorblindness, being a good person, and wanting to help people of color, I reveal how each of these well-intentioned mindsets actually perpetuated my ill-conceived ideas about race. I also explain why and how I’ve changed the way I talk about racism, work in racially mixed groups, and understand the racial justice movement as a whole. Exercises at the end of each chapter prompt readers to explore their own racialized ideas. Waking Up White's personal narrative is designed to work well as a rapid read, a book group book, or support reading for courses exploring racial and cultural issues.

Co-Moderator Video Series on Waking Up White

Tools & Resources

Study Guide

The Co-Moderators designed the following study guide to help facilitate group conversations about Waking Up White. Being uncomfortable isn’t the only thing going on when reflecting on the stories in this book. What you’ll find by using the questions included in the study guide is that your life is much richer than you thought, it’s more vibrant, and you have way more resources than you thought you did for understanding what’s going on with racism in our country. Learning about how to interrupt racism is part of learning how to be a disciple of Christ. We’re learning how to love God and love others as ourselves.

Additional Information about Debby Irving and recommended resources on race

Photo of Waking Up White Author, Debby IrvingDebby Irving's Website

TED Talk Led by Debby Irving

Resources Recommended by Debby Irving

"Here & Now" Interview w/ Debby Irving 

Note:  Information and materials about author, Debby Irving, and her book, Waking Up White, have been presented with the author's permission.  

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