Written by Anthony Moujaes
Justice Leaders Engaging and Developing (Justice LED) is designed to provide tools to individuals and congregations of the United Church of Christ to refocus faith purposes and develop leaders throughout the church devoted to justice work. The resource is now getting a tweak, with the help of UCC national staff members, and trainers in the field.
The Justice LED program was created to help people and churches develop and strengthen their faith-based justice ministries. But it is also a faith formation resource that is being refined with internal input.
"There's two levels of importance," said the Rev. Jim Moos, executive minister, UCC Wider Church Ministries. "One is to receive training and incorporate justice work in to the work we do in the national setting. The other is we are in the process of rewriting the curriculum and we are looking for feedback from staff on that."
The two day workshop Jan. 31-Feb 1 was offered to support national and wider church staff efforts to explain and integrate justice foundations of Christian faith and the UCC in its ministry, partnerships and portfolios. It was also an opportunity to become familiar with the Justice LED program and how it might support the efforts of colleagues, congregations and ministries national staff might encounter.
Justice LED training is part of the UCC's vision strategy for 2013. The flexible, biblically-grounded and non-issue based justice curriculum is used to engage and develop justice leaders for the church and community.
"It's a solid biblical and theological foundation for advocacy, and equips people with the tools for justice work," Moos said. "I think it is designed to create safe spaces in which people can talk about justice issues on which there are deep divisions."
By April 2015, the UCC plans to have more than 500 churches and 10,000 UCC people trained in the Justice LED curriculum. The number of trainers will double from 300 to 600 as all national and conference staff will be trained to serve as regional trainers.
The Rev. Shernell Edney, Margaret Mills, the Rev. Peter Wells and the Rev. Kelly Burd led the two-day workshop at the Church House in downtown Cleveland. Edney is a minister from Hampton Roads, Va., Mills is on the staff of the Eastern Ohio and Western Reserve Associations in the Ohio Conference, and Wells is an associate minister for the Massachusetts Conference.
"This is not focused on a particular justice issue. It is infusing justice into our faith formation efforts," said Burd, the UCC minister for leadership development.
As a resource for faith formation to add spiritual grounding in the lives of UCC members, the Justice LED resource is being revised so it is adaptable to many situations to give congregations the tools to do justice work, impact social change and invite others to join.
"I think we want to make the content flexible, for youth, seminarians, ministers," Wells said. "The group here gives us another take on the training."