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PNC identity statement urges PNC to be justice seekers

By Rich Gamble, chair of PNC’s Justice and Witness Ministries Committee:
reflections on resources to help the conference be justice seekers

At this year’s Leadership Retreat, members of the board and committees developed an identity statement for the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ: “We are justice seekers called to embody our faith.”

Rich Gamble

Rich Gamble, pastor at Keystone, invites PNC to be justice minded.

What does it mean to be a conference that seeks to embody faithful justice?  

Members of the Justice and Witness Ministry Committee have been working out how to support the conference as it lives in to that identity.

Across the conference UCC churches are active in diverse issues including environmental protection, interfaith relationships, marriage equality, homelessness and hunger.

The Justice and Witness Ministries Committee supports a wide variety of organizations working on these issues and more.  

So what would it look like if social justice were not only something some of us occasionally do but also something that identifies us all? 

How can we as a conference be an example to other conferences and other denominations on how to be a creative and effective force for social justice?

One pilot program that began this year is the Young Adult Service Community.

Initiated by Keystone UCC, it is supported by All Pilgrims UCC/Disciples of Christ, which is housing the interns, and by Plymouth UCC in Seattle.

The Young Adult Service Community is a program of the national UCC centered in congregations.

Originally created with an eye to social service programs, it supports young adults and organizations doing good work by providing the organizations where young adult workers serve for 32 hours a week.

It also provides young adults an opportunity to do meaningful work, live in community and have spiritual support.

Here in the Pacific Northwest we have focused the program on social justice.

Our placements are with organizations working for change: Faith Action Network, Church Council of Greater Seattle, Puget Sound Sage and the Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness.

Not only do the volunteers work for these organizations but they also participate in a year-long “justice leadership” course.

Just over three months into the program, the vision is becoming a reality.

Through these volunteers, organizations that do justice are able to accomplish more. Through their experience and education, young adults become justice leaders. 

What if this program were just the beginning?

What if we could recruit and support 20 or more justice volunteers every year from across the country?

What if we were willing to invest that heavily in the work of justice today and in the leaders of tomorrow?

What would happen if young adults saw the UCC as a conduit for their participation in the work of justice?

What would it mean to us and the world if we seeded a new group of experienced and empowered justice leaders into our communities year after year?

This small pilot program offers an opportunity to envision what living into our identity as “justice seekers called to embody our faith” could look like.

If it is to grow, it will take more visionary support.

Hopefully, this program is just the beginning of a season of newness for the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ.

In this season of hope, we celebrate those who not only saw but also followed the light.

The journey of the wise men was a journey into the unknown with hope as a guide.

With the light of hope may we be guided to new opportunities to seek justice and embody our faith.


JWM Committee promotes churches hosting one-day justice events

One way the Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM) Committee will support efforts of PNC congregations to do justice ministries is to offer workshop resources for congregational, interfaith or community events or fairs between Christmas and Easter.

“We’ll bring workshops to your back yard,” said Rich Gamble, pastor at Keystone UCC and JWM chair. 

He invites churches to gather area churches or their members for an All Day Justice Event. 

Organizers can add their own workshops on how they meet their community-service needs.  Some may be willing to share those workshops at events others plan.

JWM is offering some workshops and leaders. 

Rich is offering to lead two workshops: 

1) “Ending Homelessness” looks at the flood of homelessnesses, its causes, solutions, appropriate housing and how public policy has helped create the crisis. 

2) “Progressive Christian Values” explores what the values are, biblical understanding, the gap between progressives and conservatives, and the call of faith to transform the world.

3) David Bloom of the Church Council of Greater Seattle and Faith Action Network has a session on “God and Money” focusing on the role of faith communities in understanding and taking action to address systemic economic injustice.

4) Jeaneane Hill of JWM has a workshop on “Sowing Seeds of Change.” She suggests people develop elevator speeches and wear buttons so they can slip controversial topics into conversations. Always carrying signs, she pops out of her car and holds one on a street corner.  She offers everyday ways to make changes.

For information, call 206-632-60212 or email


Copyright © December 2012 - Pacific Northwest United Church of Christ Conference News


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