When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus answered with two: “You must love the Lord your God” and “You must love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:34-40).
United Methodists have a deep concern for social justice. John Wesley and the early Methodists expressed their opposition to societal ills such as slavery, smuggling, inhumane prison conditions, alcohol abuse, and child labor. We at St. John’s UMC believe that each person was created in the image of God and deserves justice and love. We are working to increase Social Justice in all aspects of life.
Justice is the concept of fairness. Social justice is fairness as it manifests in society. That includes fairness in healthcare, employment, housing, and more. Discrimination and social justice are not compatible. Social justice applies to all aspects of society, including race and gender, and it is closely tied to human rights.
Background: The United Methodist Church has been a promoter of Social Justice since its founding. John Wesley who is credited with the founding of Methodism, graduated from Oxford University and became a priest in the Church of England in 1728. Beginning in 1729, he participated in the Holy Club, a religious study group organized by his brother Charles (1707–1788). Critics ridiculed the “Methodists” for their methodical study and devotion. Bound by covenant, they worshipped, prayed and studied, visited prisoners, and cared for the poor, orphans and the sick. Wesley came to North America in late 1735 to preach to the settlers here. His purpose was to change the Anglican Church from within. When this change could not be implemented, and the Anglican Bishop in London refused to ordain any clergy to go to the Americas, Wesley began ordaining them himself, marking the beginnings of the Methodist church in the Americas. His “methods” of emphasizing both personal and social holiness have remained the cornerstones of the Methodist church.
The International United Methodist Church, in 2020, developed a set of Social Principles. These can be divided into four areas:
• The Community of All Creation
• The Economic Community
• The Social Community
• The Political Community
About Us: The Social Justice Task Force was formed during the fall of 2020. This was a time when the country was quaking from the pandemic, the news of so much divisiveness in our political system, and worst of all – the deaths of so many people of color at the hands of police and White supremacists. We discovered that the church already had two important mission areas that were focused on social justice issues, but we wanted to expand our reach in this area. In this link you will find more information on the team.
• Social Justice Initiatives at St. John’s
• A List of Helpful Resources