WHY IS JUSTICE AND RECONCILIATION IMPORTANT?
The themes of justice, peace, inclusion and reconciliation are woven throughout scripture, particularly the prophets, and are brought to their culmination in Jesus Christ. Therefore, the key scripture passage that guides our work is Jesus’ reading of the Isaiah scroll in Luke 4: “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, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
After Jesus read these words, he told the assembled crowd, “Today these words have been fulfilled in your hearing.” We believe that the Lord’s spirit, as proclaimed by Jesus, is being fulfilled today as the members of this annual conference engage in transformative ministry with poor, sick, imprisoned and disadvantaged persons.
WHAT WE DO
The primary place where justice and reconciliation ministries are taking place is the local church. Therefore, the Justice and Reconciliation Team’s greatest task is to educate, encourage and empower local churches to further God’s kingdom. The team wants to help you, in your words and your actions, to “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
For the past few years, the biggest thing that the J&R Team has done is award grants to churches, organizations and individuals who have wanted to take bold new steps in their churches, but needed resources from the conference to achieve those goals.
In 2015, we are adding two key initiatives. First is our monthly electronic newsletter, called “Proclaim!” which will feature a variety of feature writers, including perhaps a few unexpected ones. The January issue features headlines by a middle-aged Caucasian pastor who serves in the mountains, loves to hunt and fish, plays in a bluegrass band and counts Martin Luther King Jr. as one of his greatest heroes. We’re also instituting quarterly Justice and Reconciliation awards for churches and individuals who are doing something exceptional to advance God’s kingdom here on earth. By sharing all these great stories, we hope to encourage and inspire you to do something new in your context.
WHO WE ARE
The J&R Team is a group of lay people and clergy that aims to be representative of the conference. To better coordinate and energize ministries among different advocacy groups, the Justice and Reconciliation Team has a convener for each of our ethnic constituencies (African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American Ministries) as well as the conveners of Commission on the Status and Role of Women and the Commission on Religion and Race. Other at-large members constitute the balance of the group. Members are appointed quadrennially, with gaps filled as needed by the Nominations Committee. A printable list of the current membership can be found here.
Together with Leadership Development, Congregational Vitality, and Mission Engagement, Justice and Reconciliation is one of four ministry teams that relate to the Vision Alignment Team. The Justice and Reconciliation Team assumes the role of several groups that are mandated under the Discipline as an “equivalent structure.”
TO LEARN MORE
The WNCC Justice & Reconciliation Team relates to several denominational boards and agencies. To find out more about how United Methodists across the connection are proclaiming God’s kingdom, please follow the links below.
The General Commission on Religion and Race. GCORR is building the capacity of The United Methodist Church to be contextually relevant and to reach more people, younger people, and more diverse people as we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Read more at http://gcorr.org/
The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women. COSROW advocates for full participation of women in the total life of The United Methodist Church. We’re helping the church recognize every person – clergy and lay, women and men, adults and children — as full and equal parts of God’s human family. Read more at http://gcsrw.org/
The General Board of Church and Society. GBCS helps to invite people to enter into a community of faith responsive to a vision of justice ministries that is biblically and theologically grounded, and to invite United Methodist congregations to play a prophetic role in bringing God’s vision to reality. Read more at http://umc-gbcs.org/
The Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns. OCUIR is a body within The Council of Bishops that works to build mutual bonds between the various branches of the Christian faith and to promote understanding and peace with those of other faiths. Read more at http://www.ocuir.org/