Sunday, September 30, 2012

Grace in Action: Commitment to Peace & Justice

“‘Director of Peace and Justice’! Wow! Never knew a church that was that serious about social justice.” These were the first words in a letter from a man in long-term solitary confinement at Pelican Bay Prison, one of many letters of gratitude our parish received in response to the notes that parishioners wrote at our Action Table this past year.

Our holy history begins with the story of God creating human-kind in God’s image, endowing every person with worth and dignity. This provides the foundation for placing peacemaking and social justice at the center of this parish—in preaching, prayer, public witness, enduring interfaith relationships, and bold action in confronting systems and structures of oppression and destruction. Parishioners respond to the call of the Hebrew prophets for economic and distributive justice when organizing in support of fair benefits for grocery workers, marching in support of warehouse workers and immigration reform, participating in delegations to offices of elected officials, demonstrating in support of immigration reform and many other actions of public witness and civic engagement.
Jesus’ teaching and ministry call us to commitment to the well-being of the whole person, especially those of us at the margins of society. Followers of Jesus at All Saints are actively engaged with people in our communities in a wide range of ways. Some of these many involvements include tutoring and mentoring young people, providing dinner at the Bad Weather Shelter, offering hospitality to homeless women at The Women’s Room, or participating in worship and visitation at Men’s Central Jail.

St. Paul spoke to the early Christian church about the importance of equipping the saints for the work of ministry. This past year, our offerings for equipping the saints in our parish included a series on the theory and strategy of non-violent social change led by civil rights giant, the Rev. James Lawson. Biblical scholar Ched Meyers inspired parishioners to make commitments to personal practices more aligned with God’s vision for justice and sustainability. The Rev. Alexia Salvatierra provided training for faith-based organizing. The monthly Conscientious Projector series continues to bring a broad world-view and voices of the voiceless into our community through film and discussion.

The month of October provides an opportunity to reflect on our stewardship of the tremendous potential of this large and diverse parish to fulfill our Baptismal covenant to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” The size and geographic range of our parish provides the capacity for significant impact on public policy.

Our Action Table letters typically reach as many as 17 Congressional or state legislative districts. Just one example of this advocacy potential is that of the Foster Care Project’s mobilization of letters in support of a state bill to provide expanded services for foster care youth. The Office for Creative Connections Director Juliana Serrano was invited to the Governor’s signing ceremony in recognition of the key role that the Foster Care Project/Action Table letters played in the decision of Governor Schwarzenegger to sign this bill into law.

Yes, this is a parish that is serious about social justice and peacemaking, and every pledging or contributing member of this parish is engaged in this mission. Your pledge supports a full-time Director of Peace and Justice, our OCC administrative staff, and more than a dozen Peace and Justice Ministries.

“Send us now into the world” is our prayer at the end of every Sunday liturgy, as this assembled community of faith disperses into the community to bring about a more just, peaceful, compassionate and sustainable world for every person, each a precious child of God.

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Your pledges support our Peace & Justice ministries!

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