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Justice Leadership Jubilee program to start

Rich Gamble and Jenn Hagedorn led an Annual Meeting 2016 workshop to introduce the Justice Leadership Jubilee program being organized as an expansion of the Justice Leadership Program.

Jenn Hagedorn and Rich Gamble lead annual meeting workshop.

Rich opened the session telling how he developed his commitment to organizing for justice.  He had left Seattle to serve a church in an Iowa town of 600.  A large factory farm wanted to create a massive hog farm on land it had there. 

“The stench would have made life in the town miserable, but the factory farm claimed it was their land and they could do what they wanted,” he said.

They held the required public meeting inviting comment. 

The residents expressed their anger, frustration and concerns. 

The factory farm thought that was it.  They would put in the farm, and people would learn to live with the stench.

“I knew a factory farm in a little community could change it.  I had a pad and pen and set up a meeting at my church,” Rich said.

“People who knew about the farm knew it would have a detrimental environmental impact.  The farm owners knew what they needed to do for a license, but did not know what to do with those who were morally right and organized.  When the factory farm realized they were facing an organized community, they pulled out,” said Rich.

“My role is not to fix a problem but to provide a framework for people to know they have a right to act and how to act,” he said. 

Rich helped organize training around worker justice and gave a theological foundation and skills so the people were confident to do the work.

Rich solidified his commitment to organizing for justice.  When he came to serve Keystone UCC, he began Justice Leadership Program training that grew into the Justice Leadership Program, funded by the PNC and part of the National UCC Young Adult Service Communities program.

Jenn was one of the justice leadership interns the first year.

“Now we are seeking to start a Justice Leadership Jubilee program for older adults.  It will be similar to the program for young adults but will involve adults committing to 10 to 15 hours a week for 10 months, rather than a full-time commitment for a year,” she said.

“Young adults are in a period of transition.  It’s an opportunity to surround them with priorities for justice,” Jenn said.

“Older adults are also in transition and find that doing justice work life giving,” she said.

1) The program will involve placing the adults in agencies to do systemic work for six to 10 hours a week.  Rich said that the two legs of social justice work are direct service related to food, housing and support, and changing policies and institutions to allow people to live so they have adequate food, housing and support.

“The church has experience in direct service.  It’s daunting to do justice on the systemic level,” he said.

2) The participants will also have church engagement, likely continuing to be involved where they are but giving one to two hours a week doing something they have not done to use their skills, trying something new in their congregation.

“The idea is for them to convince others in the church to run with a project to bring justice, life and energy,” Rich said.

3) Participants join in skill building, giving them frameworks to plug their experience into, and theological study to help them understand how and why they do justice.  That will involve four to eight hours a month.

4) Participants will also engage in reflection as they engage in action so they learn about themselves and what is happening. 

“It’s important to create transformational, internal and external cohort process to learn and grow together,” he said.

“It’s a significant commitment,” said Rich, “but it’s also flexible enough that participants can prioritize for the program to make it happen.”

Beginning in September 2017, there will be a small cohort.  The first Justice Leadership Jubilee will run to July 2018.

There will be no formal application, but those interested will be matched with an agency that needs their skills and is in line with their interests.

“We are hoping to build this model so it will be one that is easier to export and use in other parts of the conference,” said Rich.

The young adult Justice Leadership Program costs $16,000 to $20,000 per intern, because it involves housing, health care and a stipend for the young adult interns.

The older adult program will involve less time, and require no housing, health care or stipend. 

Participants will pay on a sliding scale, up to $1,000 for 10 months.  Placement will be skill based, not issue based.

Jenn said that agencies that have expressed interest so far are the Church Council of Greater Seattle, the Faith Action Network, Puget Sound SAGE and Meaningful Movies, which makes social justice documentaries.

For information, call 206-265-2834 or email


Copyright © June 2016 Pacific NW UCC News


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