Ministry staff talk about how they have responded to current issues, how people can get involved
August 16, 2022
Two-thirds of the way through the second session of CPJ Training, moderator Christian Brooks of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Office of Public Witness turned the conversation to recent headlines.
Specifically, she brought up bills that have been introduced and, in many cases, passed in state legislatures across the country targeting people, particularly children, in the LGBTQIA+ community.
“It is happening not just in the South,” said the Rev. Shanea D. Leonard, Associate for Gender Justice in the PC(USA)’s Office of Gender and Racial Justice. “In the West, in the East, and all over — even here in Kentucky, where our PC(USA) headquarters is located — there are bills that are targeted at not only health care, but education around our youth, around all kinds of facets of life, particularly around LGBTQIA+ folks.
“We have gotten in my office, and other folks might have gotten as well, letters from Presbyterians who are saying, we know that our church and our General Assembly have taken a stand about this. We know that our church stands with our LGBTQIA siblings, not just an ordination and marriage, but full inclusion in our church.”
Now, with the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community under attack, it is again time for the church to speak and act, which Leonard had been doing through their office in the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Compassion, Peace & Justice (CPJ) ministries.
Among actions taken in response to the situation:
- Leonard worked with the office of the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), to draft a statement denouncing the legislation — “This type of injustice cannot be ignored” — and urging people to contact their legislators.
- Brooks added that the Office of Public Witness (OPW) supports the Equality Act, which would broadly prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, and urges Presbyterians and others to tell their representatives to support it.
Leonard was one of five ministry-area participants in the second day of CPJ Training, a virtual event that this year focused on how Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries are focusing on civil and human rights. The second day addressed domestic issues and work being done by the Gender and Racial Justice Office, as well as the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, the Presbyterian Hunger Program, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People.
After presentations from each of the panelists on their ministry areas, a question-and-answer session included questions about how people could get involved with their work.
- Simon Doong, Associate for Peacemaking, pointed to several offerings from the Peacemaking Program, including upcoming Travel Study Seminars, the Mosaic of Peace conference in Israel-Palestine, and United States visits by International Peacemakers. Doong also discussed study materials such as the “Standing Our Holy Ground” series on gun violence.
- Jessica Maudlin, Associate for Sustainable Living and Earth Care in the Hunger Program, mentioned ways people could engage in environmental issues such as taking the Climate Care Challenge or becoming an Earth Care Congregation.
- Brooks encouraged people to sign up for Action Alerts from OPW that tell them when the Washington Office is asking people to engage with various issues and gives them tools to contact elected officials, including their congressional representatives.
- Margaret Mwale, Associate for Community Development and Constituent Relations in SDOP, said Mid Council SDOP Committees, which make grants to projects in their presbyteries or synods, are great ways to get involved in SDOP’s anti-poverty work. She also noted frequent webinars from SDOP highlight the work the committee is doing and the partners it collaborates with.
- The Rev. Edwin González-Castillo, PDA’s Associate for Disaster Response in Latin America and the Caribbean, noted that giving to One Great Hour of Sharing is a great way to support his ministry as well as PHP and SDOP.
Doong noted that Presbyterians should also look for opportunities to work with organizations in their areas that are addressing issues they feel are important.
“I would also just add that something that I’ve learned in my time with the peacemaking program is that justice work is hard, but justice work also can be really creative and inspiring. That gives you the motivation to keep going,” Doong said.
Rich Copley, Multimedia Producer, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: Compassion, Peace & Justice training annual event
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Sean Chow, Associate, Training & Leader Cohorts, 1001 New Worshiping Communities, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Tim Clark, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Presbyterian Foundation
Let us pray
God of all peoples, grant us your Spirit as you give us new opportunities for ministry. We pray that you will continue to transform our communities as you mold us into your people. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.