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Washtenaw United: ​Using Our Voices To Confront Systemic Racism And Police Brutality

Reach Church

A matter of race and faith.  Pastor Jason Robinson of Reach Church in Ypsilanti is ministering to an outraged and heartbroken congregation in the wake of yet another police killing of a black man.  Is this time different?  Will there be enough unity to make signifcant changes in systemic racism and bring an end to police brutality?  Perspective from a faith leader in this week's "Washtenaw United." 

WEMU has partnered with the United Way of Washtenaw Countyto explore the people, organizations, and institutions creating opportunity and equity in our area.  And, as part of this ongoing series, you’ll also hear from the people benefiting and growing from the investments being made in the areas of our community where there are gaps in available services.  It is a community voice.  It is 'Washtenaw United.'


Jason Robinson was called by God to plant a life - giving, bible obedient church in Ypsilanti, MI. The call to plant Reach Church came to Jason during his work as a Student Advisor in Higher Education. After starting a bible study with a few families, Reach Church was officially launched in September 2014. Pastor Robinson leads Reach Church with the deep conviction that when God raises up a group of believers in the local context, that community should be impacted consistently.

Before planting Reach Church, Pastor Robinson served as Pastor of Christian Education at Canton Christian Fellowship (Canton, MI) with Senior Pastor David Washington Jr., who also was a founding pastor. While serving under Pastor Washington, God began to confirm and solidify the call to church planting. Prior to this assignment, he also was graciously blessed to be called, trained, licensed and ordained at Mt. Zion Baptist Church (Kalamazoo, MI) under Dr. Addis Moore.

The work of Reach Church has been to train and develop people in practical Christian living. The church has focused on teaching and training individuals to impact the community. The church serves the local community through many programs and outreaches including; financial peace university workshops, fitness and nutritional classes, holiday help for families, home-buying workshops, back-to-school giveaways, providing meals for hundreds, clothing giveaways, and scholarships for graduating high school students.

Pastor Robinson who was born and raised in Gary, IN completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Communication at Indiana State University, a Certificate of Biblical Preaching from George Truett Seminary and a Certificate of Theology and Ministry from Princeton Theological Seminary. Pastor Robinson is married to his college sweetheart, Ebony Robinson, who is also highly involved in ministry. Together they have four children; Naima, Tahirah, Solomon and Sanaa.


Reach Church Ypsilanti

Pastor Jason Robinson

"I Can't Breathe: Confronting the Obvious" Sermon


Vision for Our Equity Work 

United Way of Washtenaw County (UWWC) recognizes that the strength and vitality of an entire community is tied to just and equitable access to resources and opportunities.  In all our roles we will consciously work to eliminate injustice and inequity.  We aspire to live in a community where: 

  • Community members seek understanding and awareness using their own power and privilege and actively working to end poverty in our County;
  • Your zip code no longer determines your opportunity in life;
  • The academic achievement gap is eliminated;
  • Everyone in our community has a home;
  • Life expectancy is the same across all populations and communities in our County;
  • Poverty is not generational. If it exists, it is intermittent and brief;
  • Everyone in our County is able to thrive and meet their needs-- housing, food, transportation, education, health expenses and childcare .

Our Statement on Equity 

Equity is the foundation of our work, from our engagement with donors, to our investment of resources across neighborhoods in our community and in our interactions with the public.  We define equity as the presence of justice and fairness within the procedures, processes, and distribution of resources by institutions or systems.1  We commit to equity as a core value and practice in order to advance our mission of connecting people, resources and organizations together to create a thriving community for everyone Our mission compels us to prioritize historically and systematically excluded or marginalized people. Focusing on race, ethnicity and socio-economic status, as well as other intersectional identities, is necessary to end the historical, social and systemic inequities that persist in our County.  We acknowledge that we can only be successful if we recognize, raise-up and support leaders from within underrepresented neighborhoods in our County.  United Way is committed to engaging these leaders as partners, donors, and volunteers.  Further, we commit to intentionally creating pathways for them to be included in decision-making and leadership roles within our own and other organizations.  We can only eliminate inequity when all individuals reach their fullest human potential.2  We maintain that building and sustaining equity in our County requires an ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion that must find full expression in our organizational culture, values, norms, and behaviors and those of our partners. 

1 Definition provided by the D5 Coalition and Michigan Nonprofit Association/NEW Center’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Toolkit 2 Adapted from United Way of the Colombia-Willamette’s statement on equity.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
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