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Engaging in justice ministries to grow a Christlike world

January 21, 2011

I hope you have been reading the South Georgia Advocate over the last year.  Many things impress me about the tremendous product, but one overwhelming impression from reading last year’s editions is how our local churches and conference ministries are faithfully and creatively engaged in justice ministries.    

Justice ministries encompass everything that intentionally expresses God’s love and mercy to a broken world.  For many of us, we have thought of these ministries as “missions,” “outreach,” or “advocacy.”  We at the conference level are now beginning to group all of these under the umbrella of what we are calling “Do Justice.”     

Justice ministry is one of the most concrete ways that we engage in “Growing a Christlike World.”  It is one of the signs that we have experienced God’s love in such a transforming way that we see our neighbor through the eyes of Jesus Christ.  Our new life in Christ makes strangers become our neighbors.  

I can’t help but think of the scene recorded in Matthew 23, when Jesus looked at people coming and going through life oblivious to their brokenness.   Jesus was heartbroken over how far humanity had wandered away from the life God designed from the beginning.    

Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem summarized his motivation for all his self-giving acts of love, mercy and justice—including his death on a cross.  Jesus’ lament also helps us understand what fuels our immersion in acts of justice.

Truth is, when our hearts break over the things that break God’s heart, it is second nature to reach out to help and serve others.   When we see people and their circumstance through the eyes of Christ it is easy to engage in the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:16-ff).

The stories reported in last year’s South Georgia Advocate give us a great sampling of how our local churches and conference ministries have engaged in acts of justice.

Consider these examples: Perry’s “Snax Sax,” St. Luke Savannah’s “Soles helping Souls,” St. Marys’  “Helping Hands Food Pantry,” Forest Hills’ “River of Life,” Nepsey-Warren’s “Partnership with Second Harvest,” Wynnton’s “Midtown Classic” for missions, Pine Forest youth’s “Tent collection for Haiti,” and Emanuel’s “Second Saturday Servants.”

These ministries are just a few examples of the many projects and programs that our congregations and conference ministries are undertaking to Do Justice.  

We are launching a new section on our conference website to focus on the many ways South Georgia United Methodists are seeking to make an impact on the world that reflects God’s best intentions for all creation and all creatures.  More details as well as directions for submitting ways that you or your church are participating in justice ministries are provided on the next page.

I encourage you to visit the site frequently to see and celebrate the many ways our brothers and sisters are seeking to Do Justice.  As the list grows, you might find some neat ideas that you can adapt to your location or you might find someone with whom you can partner to expand the impact for the good of many.

Together, we are making a difference as agents of a heartbroken God who longs for each to be healed and whole.  Together, we are “Growing a Christlike World.”

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Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.