2015 Annual Report – Justice and Witness Team

-from Ray Daniels, Justice and Witness Team, co-chair

Members of the Justice and Witness Team are Ray Daniels and Martin Erickson, III as co-chairs, Barb Proost, Justin Gromoll, Barb Martin, Kathryn Price, Edi Apelt, and Jeanne Bringgold-Pro.

At the end of the Annual Meeting, I will be leaving the Team. It has been an enjoyable six years where I have learned much about Christian justice in the world. There is much work to be done educating the Minnesota Conference congregations about local, state, national and international causes for justice.

Autonomy and works of charity are hallmarks of the United Church of Christ. As a denomination, we have been at the forefront of many controversial issues of justice. The Minnesota Conference through resolutions passed at the Annual Meeting has addressed many issues of injustice. But our local autonomy has often prevented us from covenanting together as a single voice advocating for justice. Local congregations and individual members have stepped forward to advocate for single issues of injustice. Never have the majority of local congregations advocated for justice because it was the right action.

The satanic voices of injustice that permeate our political system often make local congregations unable to advocate for justice. At a time when our decisions will affect the lives of future generations, the frictions from differing viewpoints hinder our Christian advocacy for justice.

In September, the Justice and Witness Team decided to research three areas of injustice: our changing climate, gun violence, and homeless youth with an emphasis on Greater Minnesota. We will conduct a workshop on gun violence at the Annual Meeting.  The research on homeless youth is not yet complete. Three tables will be set up to highlight the Green Justice actions individual congregations have taken to make our planet, Earth, a better place to live.

The Team has faithfully met on the second Saturday of each month to report on the progress they have made. We also oversee the Conference Peace Fund. When requests are made for a grant, we review the request and the Team decides whether to grant the request.

All congregations of the Conference congregations received information and a form about how to be recognized as a Green Justice Congregation. Churches that reply will be recognized at the Annual Meeting.

At the March meeting, the Justice and Witness Team decided what direction they wanted to go in 2016. They will try to increase promotion of the Peace Fund by giving an automatic grant of $100 with the expectation of accountable action to increase Earthwise-ness. An alternative would be to provide a small Earthwise banner to each church.

The Justice and Witness Team would like to develop a Facebook page. They will connect with Conference staff about the content and administration of the Facebook page. The Justice and Witness Team will try to either develop a blog or regular segment in the COMMAntary. The Justice and Witness Team wants to develop, with the help of conference staff, a logo that can be used on letters from the JWT concerning the earth, justice, or anti-violence.

Members of the Justice and Witness Team are Ray Daniels and Martin Erickson, III as co-chairs, Barb Proost, Justin Gromoll, Barb Martin, Kathryn Price, Edi Apelt, and Jeanne Bringgold-Pro. Under the leadership of Martin Erickson, III and Jeanne Bringgold-Pro, the Justice and Witness Team will continue the journey that will allow local congregations to become advocates for justice here in Minnesota.