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January 2, 2014, 9:38 AM

Working for Justice: Putting Things Right

“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”  Amos 5.24

      During the month of January, we will be focusing on the faith practice of “Working for Justice.”  In Judaism, the faith of the prophets and of Jesus, there is a concept of “tikkun olam.”  It is a Hebrew phrase that means "repairing the world" or "healing the world;" which suggests humanity's shared responsibility to heal, repair and transform the world. Working for justice is “tikkun olam” – putting things right. It is building right relationships with God, each other, and all of God’s creation. To work for justice we imagine God’s Shalom and stay focused on the world as God intends it to be. Justice is a universal value that, within the biblical story, is required of people of faith. Following Jesus’ lead, we seek wholeness and reconciliation through both systemic and individual change. Working for justice is a way of life that is different from doing charity. Charity is a compassionate response to a need; justice works to repair the root cause of need. Justice is not a one way street; it requires active partners. Healing the world means healing both the oppressed and the oppressor.

     During our “working for justice” month, one special Sunday worship will focus on the Susan B. Anthony Project that works to end domestic violence in our region by providing shelter for victims, as well as community education and advocacy. 

     Early in February, we will be concluding our exploration of Working for Justice as we recognize Black History Month with a special service about former slave and underground railroad worker, Harriet Tubman.

     As a congregation, we are examining social justice issues and participating in justice work within and beyond our faith community:

     At our quarterly congregational meeting on January 12, we will begin our conversations and discernment process to determine whether we, as a congregation, feel called by God to become an officially “Open and Affirming” church. “Open and Affirming” is a designation within the United Church of Christ for congregations that create a public covenant of welcome into their full life and ministry to individuals of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.  Head deacon, Wayne Hileman, will be leading an opening discussion and answer questions about the discernment process at the congregational meeting.  Our “O&A” task force has discovered that working for justice often begins with the “inner” work of examining our own attitudes and prejudices that interfere with “right” relationship with – and compassion toward – others who are different from us in some way.

     AccessHealthCT selected our church as one of 300 nonprofit organizations in the state of Connecticut to send someone to participate in the training and certification process for the “Assister” program.  Peter Armstrong, who with his wife Henrietta Small serves as the clerk of our congregation, has received training and is working for justice on behalf of our church. We are administering a grant of $6,000 to support Peter’s training and outreach to the uninsured.  Peter is speaking to various community groups in our region as well as assisting people during the process of enrolling in a health insurance program.  The Assister program is a federally-funded grant program established through the Affordable Care Act.

     We hope that this will be an enlightening, inspiring, and empowering month of working for justice that will put social action into a faith perspective. 

See you in church!

Pastor Cheryl

The Rev. Cheryl P. Anderson

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