August 23, 2017

Responding to Injustice

In the wake of the recent overt racist actions by hate groups in Charlottesville, Virginia and other continued acts of injustice, for example, the killing of unarmed minorities by the police, targeting of Muslim worshippers, separation of families by deportation, the Church is obligated to live out its mission by speaking and acting to address justice issues within our communities. The question is what (or what more) can the Church do?

Many within our churches are concerned and willing to do something but do not have a history of activism so are unsure where to start. As a result there is dissonance between what is going on within our churches and the society as a whole, these justice issues are sometimes never mentioned.
One reason why justice issues go unmentioned is that we have not made a clear distinction between partisan political vs. social justice issues and are therefore afraid of polarization among our members.

So in these instances of inaction no matter what the cause we need to go back to basics and that includes:

  • Intentional prayer by name and situation about these issues allowing the congregation to actively participate as appropriate
  • Using our religious teachings to explain, reinforce and remind us what our response as Christians should be to these situations
  • Plan for wide-spread communication about these issues via Sermons, Bible Study, Coffee Hour presentations, Announcements, Small group discussions etc.
  • Provide safe spaces for people to acknowledge and work through their feelings, frustrations and ideas
  • Share the local or National Church’s position – many are looking for direction to articulate their faith position. They are being influenced by the media, friends, family, and colleagues, why not the Church?
  • Determine what can be done locally, most impactful actions and relationships possible
  • Collaborate with other churches, civic and social justice organizations, law enforcement, politicians to address issues
  • Listen to the voices of those who are most impacted by the situation and especially those we tend to discount

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Isaiah 61:1 (NIV)