Office of Social Justice News | March 2017

A Lenten Journey of Confession and Action

Often when we think about a Lenten spiritual discipline, we think of giving up something for that season. But the purpose of a Lenten spiritual discipline—to grow closer to God—also allows us to take this time to intentionally and regularly practice an action that we want to become a discipline in our lives.

This year we want to invite you to practice confession, lament, and doing justice during Lent. Click here for an introduction to those disciplines, a reminder that we practice them within a framework of grace as redeemed people, and a weekly Lent plan to incorporate those disciplines.



Big News! 

Are the two offices merging? Has Peter Vander Meulen retired? You may have heard that some changes are afoot in the Office of Social Justice and the Office of Race Relations! Rev. Reggie Smith was recently appointed as the new director for the Offices of Race Relations and Social Justice. Have questions? Here are our responses.


Messages from the Persecuted Church

When ISIS kidnapped and murdered 21 men in early 2015, all but one of them were Coptic Christians from Egypt. The 21st man was Mathew Ayairga, a citizen of Chad who, upon seeing the faith of the Christian men as they faced death, declared, “Their God is my God.” His choice to lay down his life in the name of Christ continues to inspire Middle Eastern Christians more than two years later as they suffer the effects of violence, oppression, and persecution in their region. Read more »


Tell Congress to Save Refugee Resettlement

On Mar. 6, the administration released a rewritten executive order that enacts a 90-day suspension of all visas for nationals from six Muslim majority countries, halts refugee resettlement for 120 days, and reduces the number of refugees the United States admits from 110,000 to 50,000 this year. On March 15, a federal judge halted this executive order. However, it's still important to contact Congress to let them know you support refugee resettlement!


House Republicans Introduce Climate Change Resolution

A group of House Republicans introduced a resolution on Wednesday calling on the House of Representatives to find economically viable solutions to the risks posed by climate change. Taking action on climate change requires moving beyond partisanship. All voices are needed at the table to create solutions that faithfully steward our resources and protect vulnerable communities most affected by climate change. The new resolution is a welcome step in this direction. Call Representatives Stefanik, Curbelo, and Costello today to thank them for their work on this new resolution!


Holy Land Learning Tour

Join us as we meet Christians whose lineage of ancestors living in the Holy Land dates back to the time of Christ. On this trip from Aug. 8-18, you will not only explore the sites you've read about in the Bible but also meet the people who are ministering, living, and struggling in this part of the world today. Click here to learn more about the trip.


Recent Raids and Cuts to Refugee Program

We're in uncertain times as raids target immigrants in our communities and cuts to the refugee program leave vulnerable people at risk. The faith community has a moral responsibility to mobilize and organize to respond in every way we can. Check out the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s latest grassroots webinar to hear updates from experts on recent executive orders and ways you can stay engaged. What has inspired you? Email to connect what you have learned to the work of OSJ.


A Sunday School Lesson Plan for Indigenous Justice

“When I started talking about sending cards to the federal government to ask them to fund First Nations kids’ education fairly, because they’re special to God just like us, the kids were initially intimidated. But after I showed them pictures of Shannen Koostachin, a Cree teen from Attawapiskat who spoke up for safe, comfy schools for her community (and was successful), they were much more excited to participate.” Read more »


Justice Mobilizing and Advocacy Fellowship

Our office is hiring! If you’re interested in faith, policy, and social justice, we invite you to apply for our Justice Mobilizing and Advocacy Fellowship. The deadline to apply is April 3. The fellowship is a one year, full-time paid position offered to recent college/university graduates. The conferred fellow helps our office develop and assist in timely and effective advocacy and mobilizing strategies relating to selected issues of U.S. and Canadian policies, especially those that benefit the poor and oppressed. She or he will gain invaluable hands-on experience in real world advocacy and faith-based mobilizing. Click here to apply now!

In Case You Missed It

  • The Climate Witness Project is helping organize a group to participate in the People's Climate March on April 29, followed by climate advocacy training and legislative meetings. Will you join us?

  • Do you receive Catching Stones, our restorative justice e-newsletter? Sign up!

  • World Renew is committed to helping farmers feed their families and earn extra income through sustainable agricultural practices that protect and nourish the land. Check out the projects that need funding here.

  • OSJ's coordinator reminds West Michigan communities of their strong tradition of welcoming refugees in a piece featured on