A History of Doing Justice

Building Blocks TutorialBuildingBlocks_3

A Community Outreach Program of Cherokee Park United Church
1989 to 2015

In 1989 Cherokee Park United Church began a free, volunteer-based, after school tutoring program for children attending public elementary schools on St. Paul’s West Side. The program developed a strong reputation for excellence in the community and beyond.  It served more than six hundred students over twenty-seven school years.  The congregation of Cherokee Park United supported the program with their time, energy, resources, and prayers. They also secured the funding to operate the program………Building Blocks 2012





1988  Cherokee Park United Church Council establishes a Legalization Fund to support people applying

residency following the 1986 Immigration and Reform Act.  The fund began with grants from the

Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Church of Christ, totaling $16,000 serving 68 people in

its first year of operation.


1989  Sin Fronteras (Without Borders) emerges as an outgrowth of the Legalization Fund.  Sin Fronteras

was a support and advocacy ministry for documented and undocumented immigrants fleeing civil

wars in Central America.  Pastor Tim was the first chair person.  Rep. Carlos Mariani was its first



1990   The Outreach Ministry leads  Cherokee Park United Church with participation in the first Cinco

de Mayo parade.


1992   Martin Luther King Jr. joint worship is held for the first time with Grace Community UCC, a

tradition that continues to this day.


1993 to 2009  A week long Summer Reading Camp for children at Torre de San Miguel is planned and staffed by members of Cherokee Park United Church as an extension of the Building Blocks Tutorial program.


1996 and 1997 LGBT Commitment

In 19996 & 1997 Cherokee Park United Church engaged in a yearlong study of issues related to sexual orientation.  In the fall of 1997 the congregation adopted the following statement of “Affirmation and Inclusion”.

Cherokee Park United Church is a community of faith gathered to proclaim and live the Good News of God in Christ.   In Christ we are called to enter a new humanity free from the human barriers of race, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability or any other basis by which our oneness in Christ is denied.  We specifically affirm and welcome into the full life, worship and leadership of the church those who have been and are excluded by the barriers of human creation.  We covenant with those congregations declaring themselves “More Light” (Presbyterian) and “Open and Affirming” (United Church of Christ) as we  give witness to God’s just and life giving Realm in the church and in the world. In faithfulness to this commitment the congregation affirmed its intention to live out the statement in a variety of ways including:

advertising in GLBT publications

electing Gays, Lesbians, Bisexual or Transgender members as elders or calling him or her to serve as the pastor

officiating at and celebrating LGBT weddings

baptizing children of all members who so desire.
1998  World Music Ministry is begun with grants of support from House of Hope Presbyterian Church (USA) and Westminster Presbyterian Church (USA).


2006 – 2010 A Summer Peace Camp was held in collaboration with All Around the Neighborhood serving approximately 90 children during a three week period of time.


In 2007, the Council of Cherokee Park United Church created an Antiracism Team. The Antiracism Team provides leadership for Cherokee Park United Church in the transformational work of becoming an antiracist, multicultural community of faith. This ministry incorporates the on-going work of the church and its mission with the wider community. The Team works to build the process of becoming an antiracist, multiracial church on sound scriptural and sociological grounds.

The Team sees antiracism work as confessional – acknowledging that racism is a violation of covenant and the relationship humans owe each other in their interdependence. Racism denies another’s humanity, worth, and godliness. Racism is a violation of justice.  At Cherokee Park United Church we seek to move beyond a superficial understanding of racism through continued study, reflection, and dialogue on social, personal, institutional, and systemic racism. We strive to understand and undermine a racial framework that privileges white identity over the many identities of People of Color.


2007  Partnership with and fiscal agent for the Antiracism Study Dialogue Circles (ASDIC).


2008 Sponsor of an Antiracism Workshop that has grown to become an annual event, called the Overcoming Racism Conference.


2009  Become the a co-sponsor of and fiscal agent for a collaboration called FREC (Facilitating Racial Equity Collaborative).  FREC now sponsors an annual antiracism conference that attracts close to 500 people for a two day conference at Metropolitan State University.


2008  Held first art exhibit with specific outreach to communities of color.


Sunday, October 23, 2011 Cherokee Park United Church passed a marriage equality policy at the congregation’s annual meeting on, voting affirmatively that marriage is a covenant made in the presence of God between two people, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.  The policy stated that “the Covenanted Community of Cherokee Park United Church believes the current civil marriage policies are discriminatory to members of our community and that, at least until those policies are corrected, Cherokee Park United Church will no longer perform civil marriages as an agent of the State of Minnesota”.  The congregation continued to perform religious ceremonies without regard to sexual orientation.

The congregation actively worked to defeat a constitutional amendment prohibiting LGBT marriages.  The congregation also worked in support of the legislatively passed law making LGBT marriages legal in the state of Minnesota.  With the passage of the law,  the congregation and its pastor now offer both civil and religious ceremonies for all those who are married at Cherokee Park United Church.


2012 opposed  the Marriage Amendment which sought to place in the Minnesota State Constitution wording that restricted marriage to heterosexuals.


2012  Partnership with Communidades Construyendo Esperanza (Communities Building Hope or CCE).  In partnership with CCE the congregation works on immigration justice and has developed a supportive relationship with villages in Ostuma, El Salvador.  With CCE hold an annual bilingual worship service in memory of Monsignor Romero.


2012 Begin monthly participation with immigration justice vigils at Ramsey County jail


2012 begin supportive relationship with the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community, including hosting the closing feast for the annual POW WOW (wacipi).  Provide meals for the annual Dakota Commemorative March, which retraces the steps of the 1,700 women, children and men who were force marched to Fort Snelling.



2012 Boycott Blues a Creative engagement – such as a puppet production of the children’s book Boycott Blues celebrating Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott, music and art – creating a welcoming place for people of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.


2013 Began Congregation wide discussion on the white stained glass Jesus.


2013  Began including images of Jesus from many cultures and ethnic groups.


2013 Supported and celebrated the Marriage Equality Bill making same sex marriage legal in Minnesota.


2013  Held Two Truth Telling Forums With Dakota leaders


2014  Host forum with Jim Bear Jacobs on Racism in Public Art


2014 Host Doctrine of Discovery two part workshop





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