Faith and Social Justice

Center for Leadership and Neighborhood Engagement Offerings

The Center for Leadership and Neighborhood Engagement a ministry partner of Incarnation’s, aims to partner with faith, community and neighborhood organizations in order to provide transformational experiences for those who share the desire to increase their intercultural competence. The hope also is that those who arrive with curiosity, open minds and the energy required to immerse themselves, will experience transformed thinking and deepened understanding of what it takes to strengthen neighborhoods by accompanying one another as leaders and constituents.

Come Together for Racial Justice Online Gatherings

Join online conversations, Come Together for Racial Justice, a virtual convening for leaders to learn, share, and mobilize for racial justice.  These 90-minute sessions are centered in BIPOC voices and engage in shared conversation so we may learn from each other.

Each third Thursday of the month, Come Together for Racial Justice features one or more community-based leaders reflecting on themes like racial healing, faith and culture, leading in diverse contexts, asset-based community development and more. The aim is to create a space for mutual learning and building relationships, being intentional about cultivating trust, welcome, safety, and a sense of belonging. Gatherings are hosted by Rev. Kelly “PK” Chatman, executive director of CLNE.

Watch recordings of previous Come Together gatherings here.

Uncommon Threads

Janet Hagberg and Joseph Mallard have an uncommon friendship.  Janet is white and Joseph is Black. They have very different backgrounds and live in different parts of the country.  Yet they share a passion for expressing themselves through the art of quilting.  Their shared passion has led to an uncommon friendship which has changed them and the people around them. Watch recordings of Joseph and Janet’s conversations during Uncommon Threads offered during the spring. 

Incarnation’s Racial Justice Working Group

Several of the Incarnation community have been gathering from time to time since fall of 2020 as a Racial Justice Working Group, to listen, learn and leverage the work each is doing so that we may together as a faith community, grow in navigating differences that make a difference, especially regarding racial justice. Using the model of the Inward/Outward Journey that Pastor Kai Nilsen often references, some of this working group have been drawn to individual/inward work, some to corporate/inward work, some to individual/outward work and some to corporate/outward work. All of work is needed. All are invited to participate. If you’d like to be included as a part of the Racial Justice Working Group, contact Becky Benson.

Join the Racial Justice Working Group’s Facebook Group by going to this link and requesting to be added. Here you will be in the company of those others who are eager to learn and get connected to advocacy opportunities.

Additional Resources for Listening and Learning

Small Groups: Justice

Join others for reading and discussion on topics related to racial and social justice. Learn more here. If you’d like to engage in a small group but don’t see one listed regarding a justice topic you are interested in, contact Denise Floe.


Just Mercy, based on the life work of civil rights attorney, Bryan Stevenson and his book by the same name, can be streamed on multiple platforms (YouTube, Google Play, Amazon, Xfinity On Demand, and others). A short series of discussion questions for Just Mercy are here.



13th, a thought-provoking documentary where scholars, activists and politians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom. Discussion questions for 13th are here.




Books by Black Authors

As a starting place last summer, the Incarnation Congregation Council and Incarnation staff read the book, White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo and engaged in dialogue around the book. This began the process of helping the leadership of Incarnation to understand better our white privledge and to recognize that others travel through life with much more difficulty. You are invited to join in reading this book, so that as a community, we can begin to have some common language to use as we go forward together. 

Resources Within Our Minnesota Context

Racial Justice Resources for Children, Youth and Families

Leaning In: Loving Response to Underserved Neighbors

Life continues to be enormously challenging for many underserved neighbors because of a variety of circumstances people face. Incarnation engages with a number of local partners informally and formally in ministry partnerships, to support the work of alleviating pain and suffering, while bringing hope and relief. To learn about and be a part of Incarnation’s support of this work, go to Incarnation’s Current Service Opportunities page and Incarnation’s Ministry Partnership page. 

Another way to alleviate pain and bring hope is to support the Twin Cites Mutual Aid Project which emerged over the summer in response to the needs of underserved communities. Check out the extensive, interactive Twin Cities Mutual Aid map to learn where you may donate items, what items are needed, days/hours to drop off, as well as ways to volunteer in service.

How did Bethlehem Lutheran In-the-Midway become a mutual aid site in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death? Watch this Twin Cities PBS Original piece.

Incarnation Congregation Council’s Statement in Reponse to George Floyd’s Death

Dear Friends of Incarnation,

Social justice—a life that focuses on justice, the well-being of all human relationships, and the social structures that promote that justice and well-being—is a central theme of the biblical narrative. Social justice is God’s love in action. The question about social justice is not, “Should we, as followers of Jesus, pursue social justice?” The question is “In what ways will we pursue social justice in our context and time?”

The cry for social justice was particularly strong through the prophets:

“Hear this, you that trample the needy,
And bring to ruin the poor of the land.” (Amos 8:4)

 “Do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien or the poor;
And do not devise evil in your heart against one another.” (Zechariah 7: 10)

“Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe
And runs after gifts. They do not defend the orphan, and the widow’s cause
Does not come before them.” (Isaiah 1: 23)

Note the focus was not just on individuals who trample on the needy but also on the systems they (the princes) established. In the face of that oppression, the prophets cried out:

“Let justice roll down like waters,
And righteousness like an everflowing stream.” (Amos 5: 24)

“God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
(Micah 6:8)

Those themes echoed throughout Jesus’ life and ministry. Listen to Jesus’ first words from his first sermon in Luke,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me
To bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.” (Luke 4: 18)

Justice was a hallmark of Jesus’ ministry and a marker of the reality of the Kingdom of God: Good news to the poor. Release to captives. Freedom for the oppressed.

To be Jesus’ people is to share his heart for justice.

So now we must ask, “In what ways will we pursue justice in our time and context?”

The killing of George Floyd ignited the communities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and became the flashpoint for us to take a hard look at the ways we have not lived justly with our Black, Indigenous and People of Color neighbors and, as significantly, the ways we have ignored systems of racism.

As leaders of Incarnation, the biblical call to work for justice and to take on systems of oppression has presented itself in a way that we cannot overlook or deny, no matter how painful it is. Justice is God’s love in action.

If we are to live out our vision of “a world filled with God’s grace and love” we must be willing to face what we need to face, to change what we can change, and to work where we can work so that all people can thrive in our communities of faith and in our surrounding neighborhoods.

The Incarnation Council, pastors and other staff leadership will meet to discuss what is Incarnation’s path forward and you will be informed of what plans come from those meetings. Until then, we ask you to pray for all who are hurt by racism, the communities who have seen destruction, for our church leadership and for how you may be a part of God’s call to justice for all people.


A Message from Senior Pastor Kai Nilsen

Senior Pastor Kai Nilsen

Twin Cities to Chicago to Columbus, Ohio to Norfolk, Virginia. A week ago when we left, these cities were simply stops on the way to see family as we began a cross country trek to help my son and daughter-in-law move in to their new home in Norfolk, Virginia. As I write this, they are four of dozens of cities across the country with marches protesting the killing of George Floyd, including a peaceful march five stories below my son’s new apartment. As we know, from the gut-wrenching images in our own cities, all the marches have not been as peaceful.

How did we get here?

Click here to read more.