Have you ever wondered what the face of social justice looks like? Have you questioned what it means to be a just church? Or been stuck on how to have a Sacred Conversation on Race? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may in fact be UCC!
The United Church of Christ has a heart for ministry. Many of us know that the UCC bears witness to issues of social justice, and more importantly, that within the UCC there is an arm that reaches out for Godly justice (Justice and Witness Ministries). We are known as a just Church, as a group of believers in a Christ centered reality not afraid to reach out to those in need of God’s healing love and embrace, not because we want to do the “right thing,” but rather, because we serve a just God.
At a recent meeting at the Franklinton Center at Bricks (FCAB), many of us wondered how FCAB would fit within the new church model. And the response was, it not only fits it is the beacon that others should follow. “Franklinton Center at Bricks is the heart of Justice and Witness Ministries for the entire UCC denomination,” said an unnamed source.
The Franklinton Center sits in a rural community surrounded by cotton fields. In the summer the breeze slowly billows forth scenting the air with memories of a day gone by. Historic buildings coexist and cohabitate with compassion side by side. The remnants of the storm that came before sitting alongside the newness of the present, and the land seems awake in anticipation of its future care givers. On the property one seems to sit “at the mouth of a cave, [hearing a voice asking], “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19: 13).
The Franklinton Center at Bricks has been many things, it served as a former slave plantation, where it is said that slaves were bought in to be “changed” and to be “corrected.” But then, “a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.” This site has served as home to educators, a place of learning, a retreat center, a conference center, an educational facility, a historic site that has housed the Franklinton Christian College, and the Congregationalist Bricks School.
In the 1950,’s it became known as the Franklinton Center at Bricks a location in relationship with our denomination and managed and staffed by our Justice and Witness Ministries. “After the earthquake came a fire…and after the fire came a gentle whisper.” Through it all, there has been God’s gentle breeze changing and restructuring each piece of brick and mortar. And the land has been healing the people and the people have been healing the land.
FCAB is a still each of those names: a former plantation (“ASHAY”), a place of learning, a farm, and so much more, “When Elijah heard [the storm end], he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And the land answered, offering healing to those in need of healing, teaching to those who wish to learn, and all in God’s name.
As a steward of the Franklinton Center, I can tell you that there is no other place on earth quite like it. In this sacred space with a history rooted in the pain of oppression, groups now come to find healing, together.
Today’s FCAB offers experiential learning through Immersion Experiences within the local community. “Fundamental concerns such as rural justice, community development, environmental racism, and workers’ rights are woven into the programmatic focus of this national church facility because of its transformative legacy and healing power.”
Their history runs deep. The Franklinton Center at Bricks, along with other Outdoor Ministry Association sites are in need of your support.
For Additional Information:
Article on Connecticut Conference Website