Advocacy at Second
As followers of Christ, we are called to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, visit the prisoner, and care for the sick. Second Presbyterian has long been engaged in ministries of compassion through such mission efforts as Walk-In, Assisting Families of Inmates, the Child Care Center, Micah Project, and CARITAS. As followers of Christ,
we are also called to work in the public realm to build a more just society, seeking to eliminate the root causes of poverty, violence, injustice and inequality. To find new ways to engage members of Second in the public policy forum, the Mission Council has formed a new Advocacy Committee. This committee began its work in July 2011 and has selected three issues we hope to focus on over the coming year.
- First, Second plans to join RISC (Richmonders Involved in Strengthening our Community) to work with members of many other congregations around Richmond on local issues of concern to the faith community. You will be hearing much more about RISC and the opportunities RISC offers for advocacy.
- Another concern we'd like to struggle with as a congregation is the problem of gun violence, a concern rising directly out of Alex's ministry in Blacksburg with the police and families and victims of the Virginia Tech murders.
- Finally, we hope to find ways to be faithful advocates of the vulnerable with regard to our state budget—working in these difficult economic times to ensure that the budget isn't balanced by slashing the safety net for our children, the poor, and the elderly and disabled, and encouraging our legislators to find ways to enhance revenues as an alternative to deep budget cuts.
The Advocacy Committee will be looking for engaging ways for our congregation to learn about how we can become effective advocates and offering opportunities to educate ourselves on these difficult policy issues. We also will be exploring ways to join our voices with those of other congregations and other groups to express our concerns on behalf of those who are vulnerable and often voiceless. We know that these are complicated issues on which people of faith can—and will—disagree, so we want to be sure that we offer opportunities for serious reflection and respectful discussion.
There are many resources already available to educate ourselves about these and other public policy issues and effectivemethods to address those issues. One of the jobs of the Advocacy Committee will be to find ways to find and sharesome of these resources. Here's one example:
Presbyterian Office Of Public Witness: Advocating for Justice, Peace and Freedom
Did you know that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) maintains an office in Washington D.C. that is dedicated to public policy information and advocacy? Its purpose is to advocate, and help the church to advocate, the social witness perspectives and policies of the PCUSA General Assembly. Our reformed theology teaches us that because a sovereign God is at work in all the world, the church and Christian citizens should be concerned about public policy. One of the most important roles of the Public Witness Office is to provide ways for all Presbyterians to express their concerns to people in government in a timely and effective manner. Presbyterians can sign up for email alerts, receive educational reports on various issues, or join or "follow" the Office on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. To read more about the Public Witness programs and to sign up for email alerts, visit the website at: http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/washington