Our theme for the new church year is The Justice of Jesus Christ in Action: Social Justice in Action, Advocacy, Education and Direct Action. Shiloh has been in the fight for these social justice issues consistently over the years. In this coming church year, we want to intensify our efforts and engage each of these categories with renewed vigor.
Advocacy encompasses taking a position and ensuring we make our voices heard. Last Sunday’s Breast Cancer Awareness focus was an example of advocacy in action. Our Deaconess Ministry led the way with pink ribbons, banners and other forms of publicity to raise the awareness of breast cancer and its effect on many in our congregation and countless around the world. We have joined with groups around the nation to express our solidarity with individuals who suffer from breast cancer and embrace families who care for loved ones struggling with this dreadful disease. Of course, a part of the advocacy is to encourage people to work toward prevention through regular screening tests which is the most reliable way to detect breast cancer early. A highlight of last week’s service was the testimony of Deaconess Jannie Campbell who announced that she is a 27-year breast cancer survivor; to God be the glory!
The second part of our theme is education. Advocacy and education are closely aligned. We can’t really take a stand if we are not aware of the issues. In the last several years, the mantra and the cry for social justice have heightened our educational awareness of the injustices in our world. In recent years we have shared information about Trayvon Martin’s senseless murder in Sanford, Florida. We have raised awareness of the continued assault on African Americans by police forces and have held public forums to educate our communities and the world of these kinds of injustices. We have also attempted to educate our members of the plight of prisoners in our nation, and through an educational outreach, have encouraged letter writing campaigns to let incarcerated men and women know that Shiloh cares.
The third aspect of our theme is direct action. There are times when our efforts to educate and advocate require tangible action. Direct action encompasses such initiatives as letter writing campaigns, Congressional testimonies, marches and sit-ins for justice. The first direct action I was involved with after coming to Shiloh was the Rodney King protests. We shudder to recall the brutalization of Mr. King by the Orange County, California police that was caught on videotape, only for a Simi Valley jury to totally exonerate the police for any wrongdoing. More recently, we have taken part in Black Lives Matter protests and the 2018 Poor People’s Campaign led by the Reverend William Barber. We must keep active and we must continue to educate the issues through direct action.
Our overall theme for the last few years has been to be “The Voice of Justice for the Black Church in America.” This year, we further that theme with, “The Justice of Jesus Christ in Action: Justice in Action, Advocacy, Education and Direct Action.” We look forward to this church year being one of our most effective and productive in the history of our church.