Milwaukee church rolls out welcome for Justice Revival
A day of worship and workshops offers a chance for justice-minded people to reflect, pray, and get fired-up together, this time at the invitation of Plymouth United Church of Christ in Milwaukee. The Rev. Andrew Warner and his congregation are welcoming the wider church to a day-long justice revival on Saturday, Sept. 19, that will “energize and sustain us for the long-term justice work ahead of us,” he said.
“We want people to get excited about working on social justice problems we face in our city and region,” said Warner. “Another key component is for people to build relationships, with people in our congregation and other congregations, and for people at workshops to connect and think about the witness we make in coming together on different sets of issues.”
‘Reviving Justice: A Day of Inspiration, Education, and Action for Change,’ the UCC’s second Justice Revival, follows the first such event in November 2014 in Vancouver, Wash., where church leaders gathered to renew their commitments on a range of social justice issues. Warner explained that last year, Justice and Witness Ministries staff oversaw a majority of the organizing work. This year, his church offered to take the lead, hoping to develop a model that congregations in other host cities could follow in the future.
“It sounded really cool. The ideal of a revival appealed to me,” Warner said. “When I saw the Vancouver event, I wondered what a Justice Revival might look like in my city. Part of the reason this resonated with my congregation is we’ve been there with the LGBT issue — we became ONA in 1991 and worked on that issue for a long time. Now, with the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, we’re wondering, ‘What’s next?’ This gives us a change to explore what is next.”
“Last year we gathered in a place we knew the fires for justice are burning to renew commitments and meet each other in person, and to connect local congregations with both the conference and national settings,” said the Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister of Justice and Witness Ministries. “We are inspired by the fire and passion building at Plymouth UCC in preparation. We are grateful for their welcome this year.”
Justice Revival will have five workshop tracks, which will focus on different concerns that impact Wisconsin and the region. Each track will feature a morning and afternoon workshop led by local and national presenters. Those presenters will share concrete ways individuals and congregations can make a difference on issues such as sexual and reproductive rights, health and the environment, issues of troubled teens, ways to address racism, poverty and incarceration, and a track for youth.
“We hope that people will have a view of how to stand in solidarity with one another. We know in our faith community that it is powerful to gather as a church. There is power and energy and spirit when we gather for justice work. We want to get people energized for the work ahead. None of the issues we face can be handled in an afternoon.”
So far, Plymouth UCC has raised $6,000 to help offset the cost of the event, which is open not only to those within the UCC, but also to other allies of justice causes. Warner said that about 100 people have signed up so far, and that there is a final push to promote the event and a reception welcome on Friday, Sept. 18. One-third of the people registered are Plymouth UCC members, one-third are from the wider UCC, and one-third come from the Wisconsin community.
The conference is open to anyone. Admission to the event is $40 (admission for students is $15). More information is available on the Justice Revival registration page.
“I think it’s going to be a powerful event,” Warner said. “We learned a lot about putting it together, and now we’re ready to get people energized for justice work.”
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