“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”-Lilla Watson, Australian activist, academic, and artist
The missional ministries at FBCX are expansive. They are serving our neighbors and meeting needs, but they are also building relationships. The Crisis Closet volunteers know visitors by name. The Language Ministry is a community that celebrates life together. The Circle of Hope women share their creativity and passion. These are more than services, they’re connections. This is who we are. From this identity, we continue to expand our involvement in missions. If our liberation is bound together, we must care for our neighbors while questioning the systems that work to keep people in poverty. A sustainable, holistic, transformative mission includes advocacy.
Advocacy is one part of the whole body of the church. It contributes to the beauty of the whole, does not detract from another, and isn’t a passion everyone is expected to share. But as followers of Jesus, who challenged the system, spoke out about injustices, and went against societal expectations to bring healing and good news, engaging in advocacy should also be part of our mission. So where do we begin?
Last week I attended an advocacy event hosted by Fund Georgia’s Future at the capitol. FGF advocates for full public education funding and partners with Together for Hope, one of our congregational missions partners. I arrived expecting to meet folks like me who were new to this. Instead, I found myself in a room full of “policy people” who represented nonprofits and had been at the capitol all week following bills and speaking to legislators. I initially felt out of place until the conversation started, “How do we get people to care about people living in poverty?” “All children matter and deserve a good education.” “We want to elevate the voices of those who aren’t being heard, who deserve access to better resources.” It sounded like a missions discussion.
In a packed room at the capitol, talking about policy and speaking with senators, I was surprised to find that it did not feel like “politics” in the ways that this word makes church folks clench their jaws. Instead, it felt like a shared passion for humanity and liberation bound up together. I saw a vast distance between the advocates in that room and the people they were advocating for, in this case, teachers, students, and families. This might be where we begin. Maybe the church, as it does often, can be a bridge between these two worlds. A point of connection between our neighbors and the policy that affects them. There are resources within our own membership, educational opportunities, and ways to advocate with and for the community, our ministries serve weekly. We have done this in a variety of ways already; it’s who we are. If you’d like to be a part of imagining what more we can do in advocacy, let’s talk!