New York Faith and Justice was inspired into being by Sojourners/Call to Renewal during their annual Pentecost Conference in 2006. It started with just a handful of committed Christians in New York who were focused on discovering how God was leading them to respond to the issue of poverty in their city.
As Becky Garrison reported last week, their mission is simple but profound: “Following Christ, Uniting the Church, Ending Poverty.” The leaders of NY Faith and Justice are examples of people who understand that to be radically committed to Christ ALSO means to be radically committed to the poor. They show that these two commitments should no longer be mutually exclusive in the church in America.
Lisa Sharon Harper, co-founder and executive director of NY Faith and Justice, began her remarks with the words “The time is now.” The worship was passionate, and there was no mistake that the Holy Spirit was alive and at work. One of our board members, Rev. Gabriel Selguero, praying in both English and Spanish, offered a blessing to begin the night. The event gathered people across every racial, socioeconomic, and denominational line, and was not afraid to give all the glory to God.
Approximately 300 people attended the event, and 72 people said, “sign me up” to be a member of NY Faith and Justice! While this may not seem like a historic event in terms of numbers, it is still very significant. Rather than just doing an event that excites people for one night but leaves little behind, we’re developing leaders to build a movement.
NY Faith and Justice is proof that such a movement is really happening. Rachel Anderson from the Boston Faith and Justice Network shared her story of how a similar group in Boston was also inspired more than two years ago by Sojourners/Call to Renewal and began meeting as a small group to unite the church in Boston to address issues of poverty. You know it’s a movement when local groups take ownership of the mission and do not wait for permission from some national group to send them a full time organizer or for permission to act.
Please pray that God would continue to inspire similar endeavors and raise up new leaders across the country. If you live in New York City (www.nyfaithjustice.org) or Boston (www.bostonfaithjustice.org) then get plugged into each of these groups. If you do not, then get together with some other passionate Christ followers who are interested in living out the gospel as it relates to addressing issues of poverty and injustice. Do not worry about getting massive numbers at first. Movements start with small groups of highly committed people.
Aaron Graham is the national field organizer for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.