Greater Capacity — for Greater Good
Our Church’s firm commitment to social justice is long-standing, ingrained and widespread.
Insights is highlighting the work of the Social Justice Forum within the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of NSW and the ACT. In the fourth of five articles, we outline how the Forum encourages individual Christians to act for social justice — wherever they are.
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The global Church, including the Uniting Church in Australia, is called to serve God in the world. Justice, advocacy and compassion -— especially for the disadvantaged and vulnerable — are part of God’s plan. Accordingly, these are important parts of our Church’s mission.
The Social Justice Forum encourages and builds capacity of individual Church members, groups and Congregations, to speak out and act for justice in their own spheres of influence. On the issues they are most concerned about.
To help get these wheels turning, the Forum is developing an advocacy training package. The goal is to trial the training in early 2015, before making it as widely available as possible.
“The training is designed for people who are looking for more direction, a framework, or just ideas on what they can do to get involved in issues they’re passionate or concerned about,” says Jon. “We value people’s commitment to take action and we hope the training will encourage them to do so.
“It’s a case of how do we connect people to action they can take? Some may not be able to protest or want to attend a demonstration, but they’re capable of writing a letter. The training focuses on what we can do and how we can incrementally improve the situation through relevant actions.”
As with everything associated with the Church, the Forum is taking a collaborative approach to developing the training. To create the program, members of the Social Justice Unit are working with the Community Development team in UnitingCare NSW/ACT, Uniting Mission and Education, UnitingCare Australia and the Institute of Family Practice.
“We have been resourcing Congregations this year to act in their own communities, to raise the profile of issues facing refugees and asylum seekers,” explains Gabe. “We’ve been providing Congregations with information and toolkits that will help them take their own action.
“We’ve had Congregations take a stand in their communities, from going to see their MPs to holding fundraisers in their Congregation for local refugee services, [or] hosting letter-writing nights and getting people from [their] Congregation to sign and send letters to the Prime Minister and Minister for Immigration.”
Romola Hollywood is the Social Policy and Advocacy Manager with UnitingCare. She recognises “it can be overwhelming” for Church members, when they are decideing where to place their energy and efforts. How the Forum aims to resource and equip Congregations can make the difference, when it comes to staying committed. “I believe the capacity-building work will be the thing that sustains the energy over time, and help build relationships and connections,” Romola says.
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