Church & Society Promotes May 26th Peace with Justice Offering

Church & Society Promotes May 26th Peace with Justice Offering

5/15/2013

This year’s Peace with Justice Sunday Special Offering (PwJ) will be officially observed on May 26. However, congregations are encouraged to celebrate Peace with Justice Sunday on whatever date works best for them. The PwJ offering supports programs that address burning social advocacy concerns at home and around the world.

While PwJ Sunday was designated primarily as a day to take the special offering, the Board of Church and Society (CBCS) encourages local churches to use this as an opportunity to highlight and celebrate their own social concerns ministries and those of our Annual Conference.

If you do not already have a “Church and Society” or “social concerns” committee in your local church, this is an opportunity to invite those interested to meet and discuss local or regional issues on which to focus. If you want to start a “Church and Society” committee to promote education and advocacy in your congregation and your community, Cokesbury has a useful “Church and Society” Guidelines booklet. The NY Conference Board of Church and Society can also be a valuable resource. Please contact Rev. Paul Fleck (fleckpaul@hotmail.com), the Conference Board of Church & Society (CBCS) staff person, or Mary Ellen Kris (mekris@nyc.rr.com), Chair of CBCS, to find out how CBCS can help.

The Peace with Justice special offering was established by the 1988 General Conference as “a faithful expression of shalom in the Bible.” The UMC believes that “peace with justice will be celebrated when all people have access to adequate jobs, housing, education, food, health care, income support and clean water” and when “structures and systems that reflect economic exploitation, war, political oppression, and cultural domination no longer exist.”

Half of the offering collected each year is retained by the New York Annual Conference to fund our social concerns and social justice ministries. This is the sole source of funding for our NYAC Board of Church and Society. So please announce the PwJ offering in your church on May 25 or another Sunday and please give generously to this important work.

In 2012-2013, our Conference Board helped to advocate for the toughest gun control legislation in the country in New York and Connecticut, and has advocated for measures on the Federal level to reduce gun violence nationwide. CBCS recently received a grant from the General Board of Church & Society in Washington, D.C. for its program, “Beating Swords Into Plowshares: Engaging Diverse Communities in Public Discourse and Advocacy to Stop Gun Violence,” and will have Rev. Dr. James Forbes, President of The Healing of the Nations Foundation, kick off that initiative at their luncheon on June 6 at Annual Conference. The Board provided staff and volunteer support to the March 2 symposium “Rise Up! End the Violence Against Women and Girls,” organized by the Methodist Federation for Social Action’s NYAC Chapter and supporting organizations. On May 4 CBCS held a training entitled “Building Relationships for Mission and Advocacy,” led by a trainer skilled in social justice organizing. Out of that training and an anticipated Annual Conference resolution sprang an initiative to develop prison ministries throughout the Conference. CBCS continues to support other Conference constituencies, including the NYAC Immigration Task Force, and desires to be in relationship with local churches throughout the conference on social justice issues of concern to them. CBCS has also distributed hundreds of copies of the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church at the Annual Conference session and other events over the years.

In addition, half of the PwJ offering is sent to the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) to help fund the UMC’s domestic and global work in social action, public-policy education and advocacy. GBCS is headquartered in the United Methodist Building in Washington, DC, directly across from the Capitol Building. This puts the staff in a position to be in regular contact with legislators and influence important social legislation, advocating according to the United Methodist Social Principles. GBCS also provides training around the globe for United Methodist pastors and lay persons. GBCS makes grants each year to conferences, districts and local churches for education and advocacy around social concerns. You can follow the work of GBCS on their website and by subscribing to the biweekly Faith in Action e-newsletter at www.umc-gbcs.org.

You can make a gift toward the work of the Board of Church and Society at any time through your local church. Note on the check that it is to go toward the “Peace with Justice” funds. You can also donate by going to www.umcgiving.org and clicking on “Donate,” and then selecting “Peace with Justice Sunday.”