by the Rev. Lacey Hunter, NCNC-UCC Justice & Witness Team Leader
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”-Margaret Mead
Throughout human history we witness small groups of people coming together to build collective power and create change that has reverberations throughout society. The Black Panthers worked for Black self-determination by launching meal programs to ensure that Black children were receiving nourishing meals and in so doing, created what would become free school lunches across US public schools and a new vision of a just economy that we continue to need and strive for today. Local indigenous tribes in Standing Rock refused to be removed from their lands to protect the water that is life and in so doing, ignited a global call to indigenous sovereignty that is needed to address the climate crisis we are facing. Even our very own Christian tradition began as a movement of people committed to revolutionary love in the face of growing imperial power. As with each of these moments, this particular moment offers us unique opportunities to cultivate intersectional movements with healing and repair at the center, as we align with the movement of the Spirit toward justice.
COVID-19 and increasing polarization in our world is making us feel isolated from one another and overwhelmed by the magnitude of injustice that we have to combat. We can often despair that we are each alone in the struggle, that our voice, our actions, our community and sphere of influence is too small to create any real change. The good news is that we are Congregationalists. Built into our very framework is the belief that our local communities have power and vision. Our local communities can change things. And our covenants remind us that harnessing the power of local communities and bringing us together for collective action is part of our journey together as the Body of Christ.
In that spirit, at the 2022 Annual Gathering, Justice and Witness Ministries will be launching a new project called, “Be the Church, Be the Movement.” Through this project we will organize a series of “justice days” in each Association of the Conference to identify and build capacity for addressing social justice issues that are at the heart of your ministries and work. We want to start locally to build the change our world needs. So start talking to your folks and notice where and how the spirit of justice is moving in your communities. And be ready for more information about how you can participate.
Our Annual Gathering theme is “Learn. Love. Act.” We hope that this project will be a way that we as a conference can embody our learning in action. As the Rev. Dr. Cornell West has proclaimed, “Justice is what Love looks like in public.” Together, in every small and infinite way, let us be that love manifest as justice.