Questions and Answers
Below in a Question and Answer format is basic information about the Living Justice seminar.
What is the motivation?
It is rooted in the purpose of the Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner of the United Methodist Church, as stated in the 2004 Book of Discipline:
The purpose of the office of deaconess and home missioner shall be to express representatively the love and concern of the believing community for the needs in the world and to enable, through education and involvement, the full ministry and mission of the people of God. Deaconesses and home missioners function through diverse forms of service directed toward the world to make Jesus Christ known in the fullness of his ministry and mission, which mandate that his followers:
a) Alleviate suffering;
b) Eradicate causes of injustice and all that robs life of dignity and worth;
c) Facilitate the development of full human potential; and
d) Share in building global community through the church universal. (Paragraph 1313.1)
How does it operate?
Living Justice convenes small groups of women ranging in age from 20 to 39 to explore social justice issues, including new directions these may be taking.
When and where does it take place?
Typically, in the summer, when young women who are in college or who are educators are most likely able to participate. It is held in New York City, which offers a wide variety of ministry experiences as well as the opportunity to take part in seminars at the Church Center for the United Nations. New York City also offers low cost accommodations at the Women's Division-owned Alma Mathews House, three major airports, and readily accessible public transportation. The dates are set a year in advance.
The women represent the diversity of the church within the age rage. They come from rural and urban areas across the United States. They may be homemakers, students, educators, or represent a variety of other professions. Women receive information about the event through congregations, schools of Christian mission, and conference communications.
Must they feel a call to become a deaconess or other church professional? No, although some express an interest in exploring such options.
What kinds of issues are discussed?
There is usually one focus topic, typically a high profile concern that illustrates the interrelationship of social justice issues. In 2006, the focus was on US refugee and immigration policy and practice. The comments and suggestions of participants one year are taken into account in selecting the focus for the next year.
What other issues were considered in relation to the 2006 theme?
Refugee and immigration concerns automatically raise the issues of education, homelessness, healthcare, living wages, advocacy for women and children, and access to legal services.
How are such broad concerns covered in only five days?
Every aspect cannot be thoroughly considered, but the time and format are sufficient to provide foundational information and to look at the issues from a variety of perspectives. The experiences and views of the participants are a part of the resources at hand. Participants learn from one another as well as from speakers, site visits, and worship components.
What are the basic ingredients of any Living Justice Event?
- Bible study;
- Learning from speakers, dicussions, and site visits;
- Sharing experiences, aspirations, and questions that invite participants to consider justice issues in their own lives, congregations, and communities;
- Opportunties to be empowered, challenged, and spirited by the supportive community of women whose faith, convictions, and commitments inspire them to Christian service; and
- Discover and explore the rich heritage of the deaconess movement in The United Methodist Church.
What is the cost to participants?
Primary costs, including travel, board, and lodging are paid by the Deaconess Program Office, which is funded by the General Board of Global Ministries and its Women's Division. The office does not want to limit participation on the basis of financial capacity. Living Justice is part of the church's financial commitment to the building of leadership for justice among young women.
How can an individual get invited to participate?
Request an application from the Deaconess Program Office at 475 Riverside Drive, Room 320, New York, NY 10115, or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.