By Jane Baker, Chair of Church & Society at Dayspring UMC
Member – Conference Task Force on Economic Inequality, Church & Society
Many Christians believe that social justice issues (sometimes considered political) do not belong in the church! Missions is understood as something Christians should be involved in, but social justice issues—things that involve changing societal structures, the very thing that makes missions necessary—don’t go there! Many United Methodist Churches do not have Church & Society Committees. Those who do, sometimes have few members. This entity remains obscure and misunderstood by the majority of members. Above all, some people feel ministers should never touch on issues that might seem political in their sermons! Parishioners want their ministers to stick to the Gospel!
If this is true in the church today, it is because many members are not aware of the history of Methodism; the fact that John Wesley, our founder, was very concerned about the unjust situations that occurred around him in the city of London. He was concerned with social holiness. For Wesley, one could not separate injustice from the Gospel! Wesley’s theology and the Methodist Church throughout the ages has always been concerned with both personal piety and social justice. Jesus healed the sick but He also turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple!
The mission statement of the UMC today is “to make Disciples for the transformation of the world!” This means that true discipleship cannot be solely personal. It must manifest itself in public, in the crossroads of life! When we pray The Lord’s Prayer we say, “Thy Kingdom come on Earth…” If we fail to imagine what God’s kingdom on earth would be like and how we can be agents of transformation, we are just mouthing words.
What actions is your church involved with regarding the various social justice issues of our community, state, and nation? The Conference Board of Church & Society would like to hear about those. Would you like help in setting up a Church & Society committee at your church? Our Conference Board of Church and Society stands ready to help! Please contact for more information.