Justice Ministry

The Justice Ministry seeks to inform the HPCUMC congregation and community about topics of justice; exploring underlying causes and sources of injustice and encouraging actions that seek fairness and equity for all.

Just Thoughts for December

“Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”   Deuteronomy 16:20 (ESV)

“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”   Haile Selassie

Why a Justice Ministry?

Participants in the HPCUMC Justice Ministry take inspiration and motivation from a number of sources and reference points. We encourage you to explore the foundations of your own feelings about equity and to articulate these in conversation with others. That exploration is partly what the Justice Ministry is all about. But let’s talk about two notable inspirations we can all share. Firstly we have the example of Jesus.  Noted theologian Marcus Borg characterizes the earthly ministry of Jesus as one that constantly questioned the status quo and conventional wisdom about fairness and justice.  By sharing the table with the disenfranchised and scorned of first century society, Jesus offered a clear example to those who claim to be followers of Christ. Secondly we look and listen around us. We see and hear a plethora of news and commentary about fairness and justice, or lack thereof, in our society. Yet we are left hungering to discern and understand beyond the headline, catch phrase or tweet.  So, we want to join together in becoming more informed. From a more informed perspective we wish to turn knowledge and conviction into action. Join the Justice Ministry in this quest. Attend an upcoming program and/or let an organizer know of your interest. There is a role for you.

Just Des(s)erts

The Justice Ministry presents an occasional series of programs dubbed “Just Des(s)erts”, evenings dedicated to information on topics of justice and opportunities for response.  The events will always feature some sort of informative presentation followed by time for questioning, learning how to be involved and sharing conversation over . . . just dessert.

The second half of 2018 featured three Just Des(s)erts programs.  In September we learned some of the realities facing immigrants and looked behind the superficial headlines and rhetoric.  October’s program sought to enlighten our country’s persistent racial divide with a showing of the  documentary film “Mourning the Creation of Racial Categories” and a follow up discussion led by some of the film’s creative team.  In December the HPCUMC Clergy led the group in an attempt better to understand the UMC denomination’s process known as the Way Forward.  As the UMC leads up to a watershed determination in 2019 regarding its position relative to sexual orientation and gender designation, this program helped us understand the background of the process and proposed changes to published doctrine and practice.

Looking ahead to the first half of 2019 two programs are tentatively taking shape.  One will review a report from the Urban League of Cincinnati chronicling the distinctly different characters of opportunity and equity between white and black Cincinnati.  A second will host a leader of the Ohio Innocence Project, an effort focused on correcting wrongs wrought by our justice system.  We hope to continue a focus on existence, sources and solutions of inequities in our community.  Stay tuned to this space for details of these and more events.

JUSTICE MINISTRY LEADERSHIP TEAM ADDS MEMBERS

A Leadership Team provides planning and steering to the HPCUMC Justice Ministry.  That team is pleased to welcome several new participants.  Thanks to Ronda Deel, MacKenzie Fahey and Kate Warren who have all agreed to pitch in.  Also, we welcome the help and guidance of our new staff liaison Rev. Kate Smith. Please reach out to these folks or others listed in the sidebar to the right and find out how you can get involved. Ask them to add you to our email list.

ONE PERSON’S REFLECTIONS ON THE OHIO NEIGHBORHOOD SAFETY, DRUG TREATMENT AND REHABILITATION AMENDMENT

A number of our brothers and sisters in the HPCUMC Justice Ministry campaigned vigorously for passage of Ohio Ballot Issue 1 which was defeated in the November 2018 elections.  Some of our congregation participated in the first round of signature gathering to propose ballot language and others, including myself, joined the crusade when new signatures were needed to put the measure on the ballot.  I and others canvassed in local neighborhoods as Election Day approached.

So, the clear rejection of the issue by voters fell as a disappointment.  Possibly more disappointing was the vocal opposition by many of our elected and appointed officials; much of it intentionally misleading from my perspective and, all too often, pointed at making the question a partisan issue.  It catered to our penchant for division rather than a spirt of problem solving.

Yet there were some interesting and encouraging headlines following in the wake of the election suggesting that our leaders have taken notice.  First coming out of Columbus was news that Ohio legislators are ready to propose criminal justice reforms that, at least partially, reflect key directions of Issue 1. A second, more reactionary, headline from Columbus was that legislators would propose to make it more difficult for citizen efforts to propose change to the Ohio Constitution.  Then, a week or so later, news of bipartisan focus on criminal justice reform in Washington came forth; reform which, at least at that moment, was endorsed by the President.  All these efforts remain intentions for now but it will be interesting to see them unfold.

So, on the one hand, I am encouraged that the recent efforts have had some positive effect.  But we have miles to go before we sleep.  I am ashamed to say that, at my ripe age, this was the first time that my faith led me to be so politically active in the cause of justice.  It won’t be the last.

Stan Kummer, HPCUMC Justice Ministry