“Our growing edge as a denomination is to hear the voices of people at the margins as the prophetic voices of our time. If we are open to new learning, we can change the world through our acts of justice and compassion.”
Creating justice requires both service and advocacy. But how? Our growing edge as a denomination is to hear the voices of people at the margins as the prophetic voices of our time. Our congregations must learn to center and honor those prophetic voices—and to recognize that sometimes they are right there, inside the church walls, and those of us with greater relative privilege fail to notice.
Service responds to the immediate needs of people who are suffering (whether from hunger, poverty, oppression, or injustice). Advocacy responds to our society’s need for change in the structures and institutions of society and of our faith tradition. While the needs of members are a priority as we create community within our walls, a “public” church seeks to make a difference in the world—as opposed to a merely “private” church that serves only the needs of its members. But it’s usually not either/or, because hands-on community service, as allies to those who best understand what’s needed, helps open us to new meaning and purpose. Advocacy, as allies of the people most affected by injustice, helps us understand better how to serve. And it’s important that we see and hear those who are marginalized within our UU congregations. If we are open to new learning, we can change the world through acts of justice and compassion.
I can’t say enough good things about Rev. Jennifer Brooks! In her few short months with us, she has re-organized our lay pastoral care team so we can more effectively care for our ill and aging congregants, helped us begin the process of discerning a new mission statement, brought the congregation together after a period of turmoil, preached great sermons, and been a visible and active participant in our congregational life.