“Bless this food we are about to receive.
To those who hunger give bread;
And to those who have bread give the hunger for justice.”
–traditional Latin American grace
The Church and Society Committee at PUMC is charged with the task with leading the church in advocating for peace and justice in our community and world. To use our resources wisely and prevent being overwhelmed by the myriad of issues that require our social service, education, witness, and action, the committee focused on a particular social topic every few months. During the fall of 2009, we explored health-care reform. We discussed the issue among ourselves, with other members of the congregation, and with elected officials. We presented Circuit Rider articles explaining the UMC stance that health-care is a right for all persons. We planned a forum on health-care reform with speakers representing both major political parties and Christian ethics but regretfully had to cancel the forum when our speakers kept getting called back to Washington.
Immigration reform became our winter focus. We discussed the complexities (e.g., work permits, “stealing jobs”, legal and illegal immigration, corporate responsibility, migrant workers) of this issue and the bureaucracy that families experience. We participated in a postcard campaign sponsored by the General Board of Church and Society by providing cards for church members to address to their senators and representatives requesting immigration reform. Cards were sent to the national office and were presented en masse to Congress in January.
Sparked by our youth’s shock at the existence of what amounts to slavery or indentured servitude in the modern world, we made human trafficking a focus for spring. Research, discussions, documentaries, and newsletter articles led us to support Project Polaris which provides comprehensive services to foreign national and U.S. citizen victims of human trafficking, including crisis intervention, emergency shelter, and transitional housing. On Human Trafficking Sunday (May 23), we highlighted the tragedy of human trafficking and raised $275 in CVS gift cards to help survivors of trafficking purchase basic items for themselves and their children.
In the spring of 2010, Church and Society committee took part in the Change the World event at PUMC (April 25) and was particularly involved in educating about and advocating for Imagine No Malaria (www.umc.org or Facebook) for which nearly $500 was raised by PUMC and Sharon UMC. Adults and children learned about this initiative to eradicate malaria via a mosquito-netted bed, video, overview, and mosquito counting.
The Church and Society committee provides funds for copies of The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church for new members, committee leaders, and others interested in perusing the book. With the Christian Education work area, two of our members taught classes on the Social Principles. Committee members also attended community programs regarding domestic violence and legislative concerns regarding mental health issues. Information about these issues is included in our notebooks.
During the 2010-2011 program year, most issues we plan to explore fall under the rubric of tolerance and “mutual appreciation” of multiple races, sexual orientations, cultures, and religions. We encourage all people to educate themselves on current issues and to explore how God is calling you to be an advocate for peace and justice.