“God sends us the resources we need … often in the form of people.” That is a statement made at a recent meeting of clergy and lay leaders that I attended in Paterson NJ. These wise words have stayed with me everyday since I first heard them, and they have proven true in so many ways.
Two people have joined our Public Theology Advocate team and they are energized to get started – to work for Justice in our communities – to address our local drug problems, economic issues, structural & institutional racism, education injustices, and environmental concerns. These two women inspire me with their honest and open stories, and with their willingness to take a “leap of faith” and design a program of projects that will make a difference.
We have a lot of work to accomplish in the coming months as we prepare to launch action plans in 2016. We have three community events already sketched out. These events will be informative and thought-provoking – and we hope inspiring more to join in action.
In addition, we are working with clergy and laity through the area as members of Congregations for a Better Bergen and Passaic. CBB and CBP are new groups in the throws of the storming/forming stage of team development – a process that will result in a shared vision and shared goals, positioning us to take action in a meaningful way.
We are also working with the United Methodist Church General Board of Church & Society who have offered training and support for our local church as well as Congregations for a Better Bergen and Passaic.
And we are seeking to learn and engage with a variety of Justice advocacy groups across the state of NJ and within other faith-based organizations, such as the Lutheran and Catholic churches. Through attending the Anti-Poverty Network of NJ, we have formed connections with a variety of advocacy groups that can help us make a difference as we, in turn, help them in their actions.
We are staying true to the mandate set for us at the 2002 United Methodist Annual Conference (page 374 in the Journal): The Public Theology Advocate is the person in each local church who attempts to:
1. Stay abreast of social issues
2. Educate the local church
3. Advocate for social change
4. Identify specific local actions that can be taken by that church
5. Act as a liaison between the local church and the Conference Board of Church & Society.
Our motto is: “Public Theology is what we do about what we believe.”
In the coming months, as our action plans solidify, we will be asking for more volunteers to join our team. Until then, please continue to pray for us in the role of Public Theology Advocate as we take a stand for justice. Respond to this blog, or contact me directly, with your thoughts, ideas, and concerns about social justice in the Pascack Valley region.
“What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
"Do you best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15