Helping the Church Be the Church

By Jim Wallis 11-03-2009

091020-dallas-justice-revivalEvery day churches across the country respond to the economic crisis by supporting families in need, assisting those in search of a job, and reaching out to people on the back streets of America. At no time is the credibility of the church greater and the message of the gospel more powerful as when individual congregations and worshiping communities work together to meet the needs of their own community and the wider world. The Justice Revival that Sojourners is sponsoring in Dallas next week has the simple and challenging mission to be a gospel witness to the city, by helping the church be the church.

Rev. Dr. Sheron Patterson, senior pastor at Highland Hills United Methodist Church and a Justice Revival convener described her own church's response to this call recently in an op-ed she wrote about the Justice Revival in The Dallas Morning News:

Something is happening at my congregation in the Highland Hills neighborhood that I'm sure is happening at tens of thousands of churches all across the country: Week by week, the line of people seeking food from our food pantry grows longer. Here on the city's often-overlooked southern fringe, economic security is tenuous as best: One in four residents lived in poverty in 2007, before the national economy imploded. But something else is happening as well. Every Sunday, members of Highland Hills United Methodist Church drive vans to downtown Dallas and return with 40 to 50 homeless men and women who have accepted the invitation to become part of our worshipping community. Our guests receive breakfast, a shower, Sunday school, worship, lunch, clothing, money. God blesses our limited funds to meet their needs.

She goes on to share how their efforts are part of this larger movement to bring God's healing and transformation to Dallas:

But something greater still is happening at Highland Hills UMC and in hundreds of other churches across the Dallas area. In Catholic churches and Baptist churches and Bible churches and Pentecostal churches, in churches of every denomination, from mega to minuscule, among worshippers of every race, culture, theological and political persuasion, a great movement is stirring. It is called the Justice Revival, and it is about bringing justice to our city

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