Public policy, says Sonya Luna, is not about politics. It’s about sharing God’s love with those who are suffering.
Latinx Ministries Coordinator, Michigan Conference
When I went to Kalamazoo College, we had what we called the “K Bubble,” which was our own little world on campus. We did not know what was going on beyond the “K Bubble.” Sometimes, I fill like the church also has its own bubble. However, as we have seen during the pandemic the church is affected by outside forces, and the church must change and adapt. The church can also affect culture and work for society to be more just and equitable.
As Michigan Conference staff, we are watching the Discipleship Ministries Series of De-Colonizing The Church. In the first session of the series, the Rev. Dr. Nichole Philip talked about what is called the public church. She describes the public church as “Christian churches, primary mainline Protestant groups, and other religious communities who live out their faith in American public life by providing a prophetic witness through their beliefs and actions and in their work for a more just society. While simultaneously critiquing and/or furnishing moral advocacy on social concerns and political issues affecting all Americans, the public church also models social teaching, focused policy research, and charitable service.”[i]
I like this idea of a public church because it speaks to the idea that churches can influence the world for the better.
Later in the presentation, Philip explains that being a public church is not about being political; it is about alleviating suffering. She says, “You must be willing to take up a public policy cause. It is not even about politics per se. It is about a social cause that will ameliorate suffering in the public… There are so many causes out there. Choose one and go forth.” [ii]
I feel this idea fits into what John Wesley called personal and social holiness. Personal holiness is your relationship with God and social holiness is your relationship with your neighbor to provide for their needs.
Right now, in this world, there are many public causes for churches to take on. With all that is going on today, churches should stand witness to God’s love. If you have not already, consider taking on a cause. Many churches in the Michigan Conference are already engaged in this work. The actions can be big or small. Churches are collecting items for Afghan refugees that are settling here in Michigan. Churches are collecting funds to help people that have been displaced from Ukraine. United Methodist Women’s groups are going to advocacy days at the Michigan State Capital to advocate for different causes. There are many ways to take up a cause.
Let’s continue the practice of the church being an agent of God’s love in this world. John Welsey said, “The world is my parish.” Go forth and be an agent for good!
[i]Discipleship Ministries Series, De-Colonizing The Church: Week 1: The Theology of Racism
[ii] Discipleship Ministries Series, De-Colonizing The Church: Week 1: The Theology of Racism