One of the main reasons Laura and I joined Ginter Park Presbyterian Church 13 years ago was because of the Peace Forum and the church’s reputation for leadership in social justice issues. For those of you who were not here when the Forum was in existence, it was a Sunday School class that invited speakers (often “experts”) to address these social questions which were a concern to the city, the world, and the church. The Forum had a long and rich history and was ably led most of our time at GinterPark by Louisa Yeuell.
Louisa and Davis Yeuell were (and are) social activists of the most admirable order. They began the petition to create the welcoming statement the church soon adopted. Although the statement seems tame today, its mention of welcoming others regardless of sexual orientation upset quite a few members at the time. In the Peace Forum, homosexuality, like other topics, was open to discussion. Other relevant topics included bullying, prisons, immigration, slave trafficking, green initiatives, food production and consumption, housing, violence in the city, public transportation, hate groups, global missions, the Civil Rights struggles, legislative initiatives, women in the church, etc.
GinterPark also was a strong supporter of RISC for several years. This organization sought to bring together Muslims, Jews, and Christians to explore local issues of injustice and inequality by raising awareness and confronting community leaders with requests for action to address some of these problems. RISC continues to exist today, and GinterPark is considering rejoining the group.
Although GinterPark no longer has the Peace Forum and is not presently a member of RISC, our church continues to be involved in social justice issues in different formats. Under our current leadership, Ginter Park has been active in bringing the church along in promoting leadership among women, and has been instrumental in encouraging the church to move forward in its painfully slow acceptance of LGBT people.
Others at Ginter Park have led us much more deeply into the consideration of what we and others eat, the consequences of food production and distribution, and the possibilities of using our vegetable garden as a way to develop a more complete and Christ-like community. Elsewhere on this blog site, Kimberly Carswell eloquently discusses her dream of addressing the injustices surrounding food access as she rejoices in the successes she and others involved in that ministry have already experienced.
I am never sure where God will lead us as we seek to know what we should do in a world steeped in injustice. I am only sure that as we earnestly pray for God’s will to be done, that we open ourselves to be active participants as that purpose unfolds.
Check out Carla’s recommended summer reading: Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life: Rethinking Ministry to the Poor and Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It).
Edward Dail, along with wife Laura, teaches GPPC’s Grade 3-6 Sunday School Class, which means they have to be very punctual with the rides they give some of our adult home members to church every week. Speaking of Sunday School and the Peace Forum: Watch for more info on this fall’s new class “Compassion into Action”, combining presentations from Richmond area experts on local issues with possibilities for hands-on service.