All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. – 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 NIV
by Jennifer Williams, Disciples Peace Fellowship intern
All have a prophetic call to justice.
We must uphold the dignity of other humans, other children of God and this means we cannot, must not and will not sit on the sidelines and stay silent. The definition of reconcile is “to restore friendly relations between.” Something is happening in the world that is not friendly. As minister of reconciliation for Reconciliation Ministry, Rev. April Johnson stated, “There needs to be a heart and mind shift in order to do this work.”
The birth of Reconciliation Ministry happened at the 1968 International Convention of the Christian Churches with Resolution 29 in which the denomination decided that churches should persistently pursue ways to address the sin of racism through resolutions and direct action. Christian Churches responded to the civil unrest at the time by raising over $1 million in six months.
The initial focus of Reconciliation was to ensure programs be motivated by “a conscientious Christian concern for our brethren who before God are equal with us; and be directed . . .to the radical removal of basic underlying causes.” In 1969, the General Assembly adopted a resolution that called for the church to work for legislative change, to change the plight of the poor, “many of whom are minority persons.” The assumption at that time was that poverty was the root cause racism. By 1997, an emerging understanding of systematic racism came to the fore.
Reconciliation Ministry today
Reconciliation Ministry has offered an anti-racism training that equips churches to understand and confront systematic racism at the local level, to do the work we are faithfully called to do. Online trainings are more accessible during COVID-19. Johnson advises that in discomfort, transformation can happen. None of us can be the same after transformation.
And a new effort led by long-time trainer Rev. Yvonne Gilmore, begins July 30. Every two weeks into November a “Love is an Action Word” event will be online discussing different aspects of racism not only relating to African Americans but also other people of color.
While Johnson is quick to celebrate the recent awareness and acknowledgement of churches, she said that justice ministries in the church setting are the least financially supported. She also commented on the churches ability to develop leadership among all people. Understanding hearts and minds need changing, Johnson praised young activists that are using the education of the issues, doing something about it, and being part of the movement. She finished by saying “We all need to follow their lead.”
The church is all about dignity and extending it to all people.
The table is set. All are welcome. All are worthy.
Now is the time to move into action.
- Join Reconciliation Ministry on Thursday, July 30, 2020 on their Facebook page at 1pm EDT for the release of a new interactive activity focusing on privilege and oppression awareness.
- Request a trainer visit
- Stay informed by subscribing to Reconciliation Ministry’s email newsletter
- Give online and promote the Reconciliation Ministry offering September 27and October 4, 2020
- Study up with this Anti-Racism Resource List