Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice inspires, educates, and mobilizes people to unite across differences and to act from their shared ethical and spiritual values in pursuit of peace with social and environmental justice.

Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice envisions a world free from violence, including the violence of war, poverty, oppression, and environmental devastation. To enact this vision, we commit to nurture a community in which compassion and respect foster actions that dismantle systems of violence while simultaneously creating systems of peace, justice, and ecological sustainability.

Condemning the Charleston shooting is easy, uprooting racism is hard

Dylann Roof's racism was blatent and horrific, and condemning it is easy. But much of what drives current racial inequality is subtle and structural, and it deserves just as much attention.

Dylann Roof’s racism was blatent and horrific, and condemning it is easy. But much of what drives current racial inequality is subtle and structural, and it deserves just as much attention.

Here’s what’s bothering me about the outpouring about Charleston–It’s too easy.

It’s easy to denouce a mass-murderer who is an avowed racist, massacres people in a house of worship, and wants to start a race war.

But that’s just the most ugly manifestation of a much broader malady. Continue Reading »

The Death of Aura Rosser: What Needs to Change? A Community Forum for Faith Leaders 

Wednesday July 1st, 10am-Noonaura-rosserjpg-ea95a1f83f19ad9d
New Beginning Community Church of Washtenaw County,

4859 Ellsworth, Ann Arbor, MI 48197
(One block west of Golfside, between Carpenter and  Hewitt)

This past March one hundred and eleven people were killed by the police in the United States.  That’s more than twice as many people as have been killed by the police in the United Kingdom since 1900.

People in this country are waking up to how the policies and procedures that underlie these grim statistics have disproportionally affected low-income communities and people of color.

Things need to change. Continue Reading »

On Charleston

Vigil for victims of Charleston church shooting, from npr.orgI want to share a few of my thoughts regarding Wednesday night’s murder of the 9 worshipers in Emmanuel AME Church.

First, it’s hard for me to comment without becoming emotional. My mother’s father was a lynching victim, and my entire family remains wounded because of it. I know from firsthand experience the far-reaching ramifications acts of terror can sow. My heart goes out to the families of Wednesday’s victims, as well as to the church of which they were a part, and to their local community.

At the same time, I harbor a tremendous sadness for what this event may portend – not only for African-Americans, but also for the nation.

This morning, when I learned the news about Charleston, four names immediately came to mind: Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Denice McNair.

I was 12 years old in the summer of 1963, when those four little girls, while attending a session at the 16th street Baptist Church, became the victims of a brutal bombing attack. In the aftermath, television brought the news into thousands of living rooms across the country. That was a relatively new thing back then. There had been no TV coverage during the heyday of lynching, and many Americans were directly witnessing this level of brutality for the first time. Many Americans expressed disbelief at the callous nature of the attack on such innocent children. Continue Reading »

Religious Leaders Call for Local Action on Climate Change

Link to Encyclical CLICK HERE

Ann Arbor area religious leaders today called for local action to address the climate crisis, echoing Pope Francis’ message in his encyclical on the environment.

“Never have we mistreated and offended our common home as we have in the last two centuries,” Pope Francis wrote in the encyclical published today. “The warming caused by the enormous consumption of some wealthy nations has repercussions in the poorest places on the planet.”

The Cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti have each adopted Climate Action Plans, designed to reduce their respective climate impacts by 90%. However, neither has yet assigned implementation strategies or major funding to their climate plans. Some faith communities have taken steps to become more sustainable but three out of five Americans say that their congregational leader seldom or never discusses climate change.

Washtenaw County—and the planet—needs all segments of the community working to address climate change—governments, congregations, businesses, environmental groups, and ordinary citizens.

“As a scientist and as pope, Pope Francis is posing several important questions that all of humanity will need to answer, namely are our lifestyles promoting the care of the creation that we all share and ultimately depend upon, and secondly, are our social, political and economic structures and choices promoting the interests of all of humanity, especially those caught in poverty and deprivation or do they simply meet the needs of the few?” said Fr. James Conlon, St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Ann Arbor. “Pope Francis has helped craft and pose the questions for us, now it is up to all of us to begin to answer them.”

While the Ecology Center and other organizations are organizing residents and businesses to turn the Ann Arbor plan into reality, St. Francis of Assisi parish and a number of other area congregations have taken steps to become sustainable and are echoing the Pope’s call to action and making a moral case for climate action.

“[The Pope’s] unique situation as a world faith leader with scientific training enables him to address the deep spiritual and material concerns with human caused climate change and the urgent need for all the peoples and countries of the world to take this threat seriously, said Pastor Greg Briggs, Associate Pastor of Bethlehem United Church of Christ in Ann Arbor. “Pope Francis reminds his followers and indeed all people that we have been called by God to be stewards of the world and we have not taken that responsibility seriously.”

Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, the Ecology Center and many other area groups are stressing the need to support state leaders in enacting new clean energy legislation and a strong plan to implement the federal Clean Power Plan. The encyclical is calling people of all faith traditions and “every person living on this planet” to swift action regarding climate action.

“Our tradition teaches that it is our responsibility to act as guardians of God’s creation. All of us, of all faiths, must commit ourselves to living responsibly in order to see that the earth we pass on to our children and grandchildren will be beautiful and life sustaining,” agreed Rabbi Robert Dobrusin, Beth Israel Congregation. “I admire and respect Pope Francis’ statements concerning climate change and hope that all of us will find the wisdom of our faith traditions which remind us of obligations in this area.”

For more information about how your congregation or community can get involved with climate justice work in Washtenaw County please contact Jan Wright, chair of ICPJ Climate Change and Earth Care committee at

We are looking for a Social Media Intern!

One of ICPJ’s most valuable outreach tools is through online promotions. Are you handy with online resources and want to promote peace and justice in our community?

We are looking for someone who has experience with online outreach such as creating social media posts, Google Ads placements, sending mass emails, and WordPress web posts, along with other WordPress website editing for a 5-10 hours per week, unpaid volunteer position.

This could be a great fit for a summer intern or beyond (can be used for a practicum-based course as well). Benefits include exposure to small, grassroots nonprofit organization structure, increasing knowledge of interfaith efforts in community and practical real time social media experience.

If you would like to learn more about this position, please email Chuck at

Safely Talking and Safely Learning About Race and Racism, Part 4 & 5

This part of the series is an ongoing discussion and open dialogue meant to delve deep into issues of racial injustice in American society.  Both documentaries explore how pervasive racial inequality has influenced and affected public policy, as well as psychologically and socially damaging us in the process.

“American Denial”

How does a nation that espouses such democratic ideals as those contained in the American
creed continue to justify the extreme disparities of wealth and opportunity characteristic of our society?

In this documentary, a panel of experts – sociologists, historians, civil rights advocates, and psychologists – describe how denial, cognitive dissonance, and unrecognized, unconscious attitudes both support and feed off of structural disparities in housing, employment, education, criminal justice and other areas of social life.

WHEN:  Sunday, June 14 at 2:00 PM

WHERE:  Ypsilanti District Library, 5577 Whittaker Rd, Ypsilanti, MI 48197

“Vocabulary of Change”

In a bold discussion moderated by Rose Aguilar of KALW (San Francisco Public Radio), leading scholar-activists Angela Davis and Tim Wise explore how our culture’s uncritical embrace of pervasive individualism, “meritocracy”, and entrenched institutional inequality has led to a highly racialized public policy; the privatization of education, health care, and our environmental future; and the commodification of many of our basic needs, including water and food.

But the conversation doesn’t end there. Far from a dispiriting tirade, this talk also confers a powerful faith in the capacity of ordinary people to achieve the extraordinary, as Angela Davis notes in her commentary.

WHEN:  Sunday, July 12, 2:00 PM

WHERE:  Ypsilanti District Library, 5577 Whittaker Rd, Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Next »