By Martha J Hill
WVUMC Peace with Justice Coordinator
Justice is defined in Ballentine’s Law Dictionary as “the end which ought to be reached in a case by the regular administration of the principles of law involved as applied to the facts.” In my experience, depending on which side of a dispute you are on, you may not feel justice was served. Many legal outcomes do not bring about peace!
From a Christian perspective, justice is concomitant with peace and is central to our United Methodist faith. The father of methodism, John Wesley, was dedicated to improving the lives of the poor, slaves, and prisoners. He recognized the responsibility to others. “Christianity is essentially a social religion,” he said, and, “to turn it into a solitary religion is indeed to destroy it.”
The baptismal and membership vows of the United Methodist Church include the question, “Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?” Illustrative of our commitment to justice is our United Methodist Social Principles ¶165.C and D:
As disciples of Christ, we are called to love our enemies, seek justice, and serve as reconcilers of conflict. We must insist that the first moral duty of all nations is to work together to resolve by peaceful means every dispute that arises between or among them.
Persons and groups must feel secure in their life and right to live within a society if order is to be achieved and maintained by law. We denounce as immoral an ordering of life that perpetuates injustice and impedes the pursuit of peace. Peoples and nations feel secure in the world community when law, order, and human rights are respected and upheld…. We affirm our historic concern for the world as our parish and seek for all persons and peoples full and equal membership in a truly world community.
To facilitate our pledge to the marginalized, Peace with Justice Sunday is June 16, 2019, although your church may elect to celebrate at a different time. It is one of six church-wide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church. Peace with Justice Sunday enables The United Methodist Church to have a voice in advocating for peace and justice both locally and globally. Fifty percent of the funds are offered to the West Virginia Annual Conference local churches to use for their justice (systemic change) projects and fifty percent support the peace with justice programs of the General Board of Church and Society.
There are resources available through to assist congregations in celebrating this ministry. Click here to learn more.