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Eliza Penick organizes Justice Jubilee for 2022

The Justice Leadership Program (JLP) is accepting applications for a six-month virtual Justice Leadership Jubilee Program that runs from January to June for adults who want to deepen their understanding of justice and learn practical organizing skills with a community of peers.

Eliza Penick is coordinating the Justice Leadership Jubilee.

Eliza Penick began working part time in February with the Justice Leadership Program, a nonprofit located at Keystone UCC in Seattle, to organize this program for adults.

“Doing the Jubilee program virtually opens us to more options, like not being limited to the Puget Sound area,” she said.
Already there are applicants for the up to 12 openings from Hawaii, Missouri and Texas.

“We will need to be creative working across time zones,” she said. “Taking it virtual also means we can reach areas that have limited justice resources, so anyone interested can be involved with justice work.

“The program is designed to involve lay people in justice work. It provides an introduction to both theory and skills so someone who is new to justice work gains the knowledge and encouragement to take action and become a leader,” she said.

In six to 10 hours a week for six months, the Jubilee program will open doors to different types of social change, to non-violence as a method, and to introduce and examine social location. The goal is for people to know what resources there are and the various areas of justice.

She recognizes that for many, the world is not as they would have it with divisions between haves and have-nots, racism and  harmful discrimination, the impact of climate change, increasing violence and growing despondency.

“Here I Am. Send Me” is a theme.

Eliza worked 12 years Heifer International in volunteer management and community engagement with churches, schools and businesses, working to help people bring positive change.

As a life-long member of Keystone UCC in Seattle, Eliza has known of the Justice Leadership Program for years. Rich Gamble, Keystone’s pastor, is also executive director of the JLP, which began through the UCC and is now also ecumenical. He invited her to be involved.

Other JLP assistants are Elizabeth Dickenson, coordinator of the Pilgrimage Program an intensive dive into an issue like homelessness or environmental justice in Seattle, and Yuki Schwartz, curriculum developer and a teacher for the JLP, as well as assistant professor of constructive and political theologies and Louisville postdoctoral scholar at Claremont School of Theology at Willamette University.

The Jubilee program consists of 1) education through reading, films and workshops led by different people, 2) sojourning with participants sharing in discussion to build community as they reflect and support each other, 3) community work volunteering with a social justice agency  to engage in change work and gain awareness, and 4) church engagement, partnering with one’s existing faith community to incorporate learning and practice new skills in ministry.

Teachers include Rich on community organizing, progressive Christianity and social change; and Lauren Cannon of Keystone on non-violence as a form of social change.

The justice training will happen via Zoom with workshops and sojourning to help participants learn practical skills and methodology with spiritual grounding and peer support, said Eliza.

“Jubilee signifies the responsibility of each generation to contribute to future generations’ struggle for social, economic, racial and environmental justice,” a flier says.

After working with Heifer, which she began at age 27, she spent a year consulting with the Gates Foundation on community engagement, familiarizing her with doing online content for middle and high school students instead of having them come to Discovery Center for exhibits about the foundation’s work in vaccines, disease prevention and food justice around the world.

Growing up in Keystone, where her mother is still a member, Eliza attended the annual Festival of Hope, which raised funds to support local and global hunger and poverty relief programs.

“As a child, I ran to the Heifer booth, which led to my involvement with Heifer and eventually a job,” said Eliza, who majored in history and minored in American Indian studies at the University of Washington, expecting to teach.

“Ten years ago, I took over organizing the Festival of Hope. Our biggest push was to put funds into the world and to encourage people to be part of an alternative Christmas economy with shopping that supports people,” she said.

The festival grew over 10 years from raising $10,000 to $20,000 annually.  The last year in person was 2019. The last two years, Keystone sent a flier listing organizations the festival supports, encouraging support and offering to send donations.

This year an anonymous donor matched $5,000 of gifts.

Keystone has been having Zoom worship Sunday mornings for 25 and no in-person worship. Eliza expects that will start in the new year.  Because there are many vulnerable members, the church will do both, with one Sunday a month in person and the rest continuing on Zoom beginning the first Sunday of February.

“For me with a young family, meeting for worship once a month works,” Eliza said.

“We have widened our community with Zoom, adding someone in Texas and the pastor’s mother in Missouri,” she said. “We are a small but mighty church, and JLP is a small and mighty nonprofit.

“We look forward to reimagining what the program will look like and hope it will grow and reach more,” she said.

For information, call 206-245-5446, email info@justice or visit


Pacific Northwest Conference United Church News © Winter 2021-22


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