What does it look like when the church combines revival with a commitment to justice? Maybe a lot like April’s “Justice Revival” in Columbus, Ohio. Right from the start the event—planned by a coalition of 40 regional denominational leaders and local churches from evangelical, Catholic, Pentecostal, Anabaptist, and mainline Protestant traditions, in conjunction with Sojourners—broke barriers. For three nights, a multi-ethnic, singing, praying, and hollering crowd of thousands packed the sanctuary of the Vineyard Church of Columbus. Pastors from the biggest evangelical and African-American churches in the area—Vineyard’s Rev. Rich Nathan and Bishop Timothy Clarke of First Church of God—led the worship along with Sojourners’ Jim Wallis. That night, 150 people made a commitment to Christ. The next day, more than 2,000 people put words into action with 50 neighborhood service projects.
In the weeks following the event, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who had taken part in a city-leaders lunch hosted by the Justice Revival, began to convene a statewide anti-poverty task force. More than 300 people committed to mentoring children through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
And the 40 churches and denominational leaders who convened the event are actively exploring how they can strengthen their connections and increase their presence in their local communities as a way to become more effective vehicles for social justice.