The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness (OPW) in Washington, DC, is responsible for advocating the social justice policies approved by each General Assembly and that have implications for the federal government.
Presbyterians’ work in justice advocacy began with the founding of Presbyterianism in Geneva, Switzerland, by John Calvin, who advocated for the innovation of public education. Calvin underscored Jesus’ role to correct, influence, and transform government through his earthly ministry. Similarly, Presbyterians are called in this present day to remind elected officials that their role as public servants is a calling to prophesy and not profiteer.
Since revamping our Internship and Summer Fellowship programs in 2011, the OPW is witnessing an upsurge in young adults desiring to serve in public witness ministries. At the same time we are hosting PC(USA) middle school, high school, and college groups visiting DC for issue briefings, Congressional visits, and exposure to justice advocacy work. Despite conversations from some in our denomination who argue that justice advocacy is divisive, we see high numbers of interested youth and young adults who are responding to God’s call to overturn the tables of injustice in the United States and across the globe.
On this Palm Sunday, we commemorate a parade for Jesus, who is being celebrated as a healer and prophet. Jesus’ commitment is to overturn the wrongs of society so that freedom from oppression will create liberty and justice for all. Jesus said at the beginning of his ministry, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18). These words are not an aside to the gospel. Compassionate and prophetic discipleship, motivated by love, shows itself in this willingness to challenge the principles and powers to do justice.
Consider attending or sponsoring the participation of a Presbyterian young adult in Compassion, Peace and Justice Training Day and Ecumenical Advocacy Days.
J. Herbert Nelson II, Office of Public Witness
Let us pray
Lord of freedom and promise, guide our feet to find the faith to move beyond passive lives that cry Lord Jesus, while failing to speak truth in love to power. Give us courage to be bridge builders of hope for those treated unjustly. Amen.