Hayes Barton Biblical Justice Action Team

The Biblical Justice Action Team, or BJAT, has been created to help us fulfill our Christian calling to justice, righteousness, and mercy.

The board is called to define how our church will seek the implementation of the Social Principles of the UMC and other policy statements of the General Conference on Christian social concerns. 

The Social Principles are organized into four general categories:

 

  1. Community of All Creation (Creation in Peril and Stewardship of Creation)

  2. Economic Community (Economic Challenges and Economic Justice)

  3. Social Community (Nurturing Community and Other Social Issues)

  4. Political Community (Government Responsibility and Basic Rights and Freedoms)

 

Our Biblical Justice Action Team will take issues that the conference is already addressing and determine how Hayes Barton can address them on a local level. We will consciously make the effort to assure our actions are Biblically motivated, not politically convenient.

 

According to Chris Marshall’s book, The Little Book of Biblical Justice, the various words for justice occur over 1000 times in the Bible (Marshall 11). Justice comes from God and it is our responsibility to reflect God’s justice and mercy in our actions. Often times people believe that activism and the church should not mix...it is too ‘political.’ But in order to live out God’s vision for shalom (peace and mutual prosperity), we must question and confront structures and powers in place that are set up to exploit and oppress others.

 

Our Biblical Justice Action Team will take issues that the conference is already addressing and determine how Hayes Barton can address them on a local level. We will consciously make the effort to assure our actions are Biblically motivated, not politically convenient. God’s liberation of the Israelites from Egypt and the promise for their oppressed community shows that God’s justice is a “liberating, community-creating power that intervenes in oppressive situations to restore freedom and shalom” (49). Being created in the image of God, we are expected, as Christians, to emulate that same justice within our own community.

What is Biblical justice? 

Justice is “doing all that is necessary to create and sustain healthy, constant, and life-giving relationships” amongst ALL people (36).  Biblical justice tries to restore honor and autonomy to those who have been wrongfully deprived of access to sufficient resources in order to meet their own basic needs for physical survival and human fulfillment (48). Biblical justice requires humble and honest actions to correct systemic oppression. It is a commitment “to execute justice in the morning, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed” (Jeremiah 21:12).

What is the difference between justice and mercy?

Mercy is an act to help others. Mercy acts are healing, feeding, clothing, and caring for the immediate needs of the community. It is a form of outreach.

Justice is getting to the root of the problem and trying to solve it. It is speaking for those who have no voice. We will become trained in writing letters to local and state officials. We will gather information to confront policies that prevent opportunity for those in need. We will educate the congregation on how they might get involved.  

 

Is “justice” for me?

We recognize that everyone is at a different stage in their faith and in their actions. Some people are beginning to put faith into action and others have been doing it for years. There is a place for everyone within our Biblical Justice Action Team. You might start by reading a book or web site from our list below, advocating for policy changes, joining a prayer walk, or simply signing a petition. Join us in our journey to create shalom on Earth as God wishes.

 

The first two of the General Rules by John Wesley are to ‘do no harm’ and to ‘do as much good as you can.’

We believe that humble reflection and dialogue are necessary, that indifference is one way that sin gets a foothold in our world, that denial of inequity perpetuates unfair subjection.

In Isaiah 59:12-17, “God is outraged not only at the existence of injustice, but at the failure of anyone to do anything about it.” The General Board of Church and Society is dedicated to the work of living faith, seeking justice, and pursuing peace, as will be the case for the Biblical Justice Action Team at Hayes Barton UMC.

Addressing more than 30 social issues on which The United Methodist Church has claimed a position, Church and Society communicates with policymakers and leaders around the world with the mission of transforming the world.

Here are some of the issues the Hayes Barton BJAT has been addressing within the Social Justice Principles of the UMC:

 

ECONOMIC COMMUNITY

 

"As United Methodists, we profess that all we are and all that we possess, belong to God. We are temporary stewards of the resources and material goods that we have accumulated. In our financial dealings and relationships no less than other aspects of discipleship, we are compelled to serve God and neighbor in all we do."(Social Principles 17)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

  • We are members of interfaith organization, One Wake:  currently focusing on tax relief in gentrified areas for people who can’t afford it

  • Raleigh Wake Partnership - central data collection and referral system

    • funding abruptly pulled by Wake County and City of Raleigh over contract dispute with the County

    • advocating for groups to work issues out

  • Raleigh Area Land Trust - have begun seeing how Biblical Justice group can advocate for them 

    • households can get a ground lease and reduce taxes

    • have funds to help maintain house

    • want local gov’t. to financially support them

SOCIAL COMMUNITY

"As United Methodists, we affirm that human beings are made for God and for one another (Gen. 1:26–27, 31; Phil. 2:3–8). As diverse as we may be, we are all a part of the same body under the sovereignty of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12–31)." (Social Principles 23)

POLITICAL COMMUNITY

"Our involvement in political systems is rooted in the Gospel imperative to love our neighbors, to do justice, and to care for the vulnerable. As United Methodists, we acknowledge that love requires responsible political action and engagement aimed at the betterment of society and the promotion of the common good." (Social Principles 34)

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 

Feb. 23, 2022 Youtube video on how the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church guide and inform their mission and ministry. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aleA2q4ul8o

 

Living our Principles: six-part Youtube series highlighting how United Methodists are living out the Social Principles throughout the world. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKbXvgM3JlNZAVaXudhPpo57izayk5mWW

 

Faith and Fact cards: set of half-sheet cards providing concise information on a number of social issues. On any given issue, they explore what the Bible says, what The United Methodist Church says, some facts about the issue and action steps to address the issue. They can be downloaded for free.

 

The Little Book of Biblical Justice

 

Our Social Principles of The United Methodist Church

 

Social Principles of the United Methodist Church 2017-2020 (paperback)  

 

Book of Resolutions - companion to Social Principles; longer statements on specific issues

 

LGBTQ Rights

Connecting Faith and Justice - Lectionary curriculum for Youth:  designed to help students actively engage the intersection of faith and justice and explore why our faith compels us toward justice; can be downloaded for free.

 

UMC Creating Change Together Toolkit: will equip you with essential tools to address public concerns. Topics include: claiming our story, connecting with decision makers (with tips for advocating through visiting, public witness, calling, writing and social media), and engaging in the electoral process; can be downloaded for free.

 

UMC Creation Justice