The Justice and Social Witness group will focus on exactly what the name says. During General Conference 2019, we will discuss ways that we witness in the world about our new life in Christ — a new life that calls us to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). Over the three days, many topics may be addressed including:
• the opioid crisis and other recovery issues
• sanctity of life matters, including abortion and the death penalty
• issues surrounding sexuality, including LGBTQ concerns and male/female relationships inside and outside
• church and state relations
I will share introductory words each day, and several special guests will share from their areas of expertise throughout the week:
• Dr. Norman Wetterau, the president of the Free Methodist Healthcare Fellowship, will talk about the
opioid crisis and how our churches can continue to create communities for healing and wholeness.
• Kevin Austin, the director of the Set Free Movement, will talk about sex trafficking and how our
churches can work to rescue victims and redeem violators.
• Blaine Derck, the executive director of the Immigration Alliance, will share how the alliance equips
churches and other faith-based ministries across the country to provide legal and other holistic
services to under-resourced immigrants.
Our hope is that everyone who attends one or more of these sessions will recognize that God’s justice is not merely recognizing what is wrong and declaring what is right. It’s about redeeming what is broken, healing what is sick, and reconciling what is disconnected.
Throughout the three days of sessions, participants will receive information on how they can individually and collectively as a congregation of faith have a social witness and impact in their communities regarding many current justice matters. Our goal is not just to inform, but to equip and resource the church and to help us understand how our worship, fellowship and outreach all create redemptive
communities that do the work of Christ.
Remember our Lord ate with sinners. Jesus welcomed the outsiders and forgave others even while being rejected, tortured and killed. He showed us a God whose primary response to injustice is not strict authoritarian toughness but rather gracious paternal tenderness and mercy. The model He gave of how to influence the world was through self-giving service rather than self-asserting domination.
Christianity is not simply a system of beliefs that one either assents to or does not. It’s a way of life — a complete transformation and a change of orientation and focus —that freely confesses when wrong and freely receives the grace of forgiveness when it is offered. Having freely received, we then freely give such grace to others too — to all others. This is the heart of our social witness when it comes to matters of justice. This is ultimately what we hope to communicate in these sessions.
Bruce Cromwell, Ph.D., is the superintendent of the Great Plains Conference, a member of the Study Commission on Doctrine, and the leader of the Justice and Social Witness focus group at General Conference 2019 (gc19.org).1