Social Justice Mission Area Team

The Social Justice (& Mission) Ministry is channeling our focus to keep our members informed on social issues Globally, Nationally, and Locally.

We strive to provide educational and social relevant activities to encourage UCC members to speak out against injustice wherever it exists in our society.

Come join our planning sessions which meet on the 2nd Monday at 7:00 PM contact: Dr. Paul Von Oeyen -

Meeting Time and Location: Social Justice Mission Area Team our next meeting is  - 7 pm at - Shrine of the Black Madonna's Building, 700 Seward St. Detroit. 

Facilitator: Dr. Paul Von Oeyen -


From: Paul von Oeyen []
Sent: Friday, April 21, 2017 2:24 PM


The regular DMA Social Justice "Sacred Conversations will be done as a Telephone Meeting.  To participate, please use the usual call-in number: (605) 475-3235;  when prompted, enter the access code: 307172# (don't forget the # sign).  Quality is best when not using a speaker phone and keeping your phone on mute unless speaking.

The DETROIT METROPOLITAN ASSOCIATION SPRING MEETING will be held on Saturday, May 6th with registration starting at 8:30 AM at the Shrine of the Black Madonna UCC, 7625 Linwood Ave, Detroit. The Theme will be: "As Disciples of Jesus, how do we use our Christian Values to Respond to Contentious Issues during these Troubled Times."  Featured will be an address by the Michigan UCC Conference Minister, Rev.  Dr. Campbell Lovett, on the Historical Perspective of the UCC; a Rap by the Pastor of Shrine 1 UCC, Rev William Moore; and a Panel Discussion involving experts on the Water Crisis (Monica Lewis-Patrick), the Education Crisis (former Detroit School Board President Lamar Lemons), Food Security (Lisa Johanon), Refugees and Immigrants (Rev. Ken Fouty) and Health Care for All (Dr. Paul von Oeyen). A registration form is attached for your convenience. 

 DETROIT WATER CRISIS:  The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) is set to resume water shut-offs in Detroit this Spring with almost 18,000 residential households eligible, according to DWSD Director Gary Brown (see attached).  Brown stated that assistance programs are available, but activists such as the Peoples' Water Board Coalition say these are not nearly enough and want income-based supports such as the Water Affordability Plan which was proposed back in 2005 but never implemented.  Monica Lewis-Patrick, CEO of We the People, said a recent study done with the Henry Ford Health System's Global Health Initiative demonstrated that people living on city blocks where there were water shut-offs were more than 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with a water-related illness than those on blocks with no shut-offs.  Alexander Plum, MPH and lead author of the study, stated: "The study reinforces a simple fact that people need water to survive.  Depriving people of access to water has health consequences."

The DETROIT WATER DRAINAGE CRISIS is similar in root causes to the Water Shut-off Crisis, namely the attempt of the Mayor and the DWSD to rapidly increase revenues to bolster finances  hobbled by the failure to eliminate any of the DWSD debt at the time of the Detroit Bankruptcy proceedings. These fees are not considered by the city as taxes, and therefore non-profit organizations such as churches, synagogues and mosques, would not be exempt.  However, there is a recent plan to reduce the immediate impact of the increase by reducing  fees by 30% for those congregations already paying $852 per impervious acre, PER MONTH, and with those currently paying a flat fee, or nothing at all, there will be a five-year phase-in period starting at $125 per acre, per month (see attached).  Since this is an election year for the Mayor, it is probably not surprising that  Mayor Duggan is trying to respond to the uproar over the drainage fees with some softening.  However,  Rev. James Michael Curenton, Pastor of Mayflower Congregational UCC, who has been a leader in fighting these drainage fees on churches, is still concerned that the new plan "basically kicked the can down the road" and isn't enough as fees will increase to $677 per impervious acre, PER MONTH, by 2022, which for many churches is certainly a lot of money.

FLINT WATER LEAD-POISONING CATASTROPHE:  Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is now recommending that the city remain a long-term customer of the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA - which used to be the DWSD) and abandon an effort to treat its own raw water again (see attached).  This reversal came after a consultant's report identified as the least expensive option using the GLWA

as the city's permanent water source with pre-treated water from Genesee County as an emergency back-up.  This option also appears to be the best alternative in terms of reliability, ease of implementation, public health and acceptance from the public.  Specifically, this option avoids the expense of renovating the old Flint Water Plant which experts agree should never have been used to attempt to treat Flint River Water as a source for drinking water, with improper water treatment in April 2014 triggering corrosion of pipes resulting in elevated water lead levels that were not acknowledged by the State until October 2015.  Interestingly, the Governor, the EPA, State and local officials are now supporting the Mayor's current recommendation, which is a reversal from what State and  local officials, including Governor appointed Emergency Managers, had done in 2014 when they pushed for the use of the out-dated water plant to treat Flint River Water for city residents (see attached). 

The DMA Social Justice Team and the Michigan Conference UCC are supporting an INTERFAITH REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE CONFERENCE entitled "Arm Yourself for the Fight for Reproductive Rights" to be held at the UAW Local 600, 10550 Dix Ave, Dearborn, Mi on June 3rd and 4th from 1-4:30 PM each day.  This schedule is to accommodate different Sabbath observances (Saturday or Sunday) of the Interfaith partners. A registration flyer is attached which provides further information.

Hope to hear from you at our DMA Social Justice Telephone Meeting MONDAY at 7 PM!

Let Justice flow down like waters.....     "For the Least of These"

Dr. Paul von Oeyen

Social Justice Facilitator

Detroit Metropolitan Association

Michigan Conference United Church of Christ

(248) 891-7509