The process of becoming an Economic Justice Church or other setting begins with a call. It may be a gentle nudging or an insistent demand that cannot be ignored. It may begin in one person’s heart or be birthed through a social justice or mission committee. The congregation may be new to such a call, or it may have been engaged with issues of economic justice for years.
No matter how the call begins or the type of setting where it begins, this Economic Justice Covenant Program offers a number of resources, information, and useful tools to go deeper. There are as many ways to become an Economic Justice Church (or other setting) as there are churches and settings. What follows here are guidelines and resources that may be helpful, especially if they are modified and adapted for each particular situation.
Once someone or some group with the church feels called to explore becoming an Economic Justice Church, they will probably need to gain the support of some key people before moving forward. The pastor should be consulted, and possibly the moderator and governing body. If the go-ahead is given, the next step might be to set up a planning committee to shepherd the discernment process. This committee could be part of an existing social justice group or a new entity established just for this purpose.
Making a public commitment to work for economic justice, to covenant with each other and with God to engage in this ministry, will take reflection and preparation, through worship, prayer, study, and exploration of the community within and outside of the walls of the church. The planning committee, in consultation with the pastor, programming bodies, Christian educators, worship planning team, and others, can begin to plan a time of discernment. Expect it to take about a year or maybe longer.
At the end of the process, the congregation or other setting makes a public commitment to work for economic justice, to covenant with each other and with God to engage in this ministry. The congregation or other setting becomes an Economic Justice Church (or Conference, Association, Seminary, or other setting).
One congregation, the United Church of Chapel Hill in North Carolina has been through this process. Their story and covenant are posted here. As churches and other settings write and approve covenants, they will be posted here.
A Suggested Process
Because each congregation or setting is unique, the planning committee might create a program comprised of the elements in the list below tailored to meet the needs and interests of the members of the congregation.
Start with one, or a series, of Sunday morning worship services. Resources for these services are located in Engaging Our Faith.
- Follow the services with small-group study opportunities to learn about various issues of economic justice. Learn more about these topics in Engaging the Issues.
- Then groups from the congregation could explore the community, both within and outside the walls of the church. See Engaging the Community.
- While these group activities are underway, individuals and families can be deepening their personal spiritual journey using the resources in Engaging the Spirit.
Writing and Approving the Covenant and Living Out the Covenant can guide the conclusion of the process.
- Ways to Engage provides numerous resources, organization, and options for getting involved in working for economic justice.