Mar 16, 2023

The Conference has a new Pursuing Justice & Equity (PJ&E) Core Ministry Team called to serve as an ally against acts of injustice and inequity as well as a resource and conduit to connect individuals, congregations, and organizations with an interest in justice and equity issues.

Co-Chairs Rev. Tom Baynham (Eastern Association representative) and Rev. Krissy Avise-Rouse (St. Louis Association representative) are joined by other members Rev. Andrea Asselmeier, Joyce Bathke, Rev. Laura Callendar (Western Association representative), and Randy Hundley.

One of Four Core Ministry Teams Starting

The PJ&E Core Ministry Team is one of four created by new bylaws adopted by the Conference in November 2021. Now that the Associations have elected representatives to serve on each team along with the Board members who helped originate the teams, each one is starting to gather and set their own agenda and meeting schedules.

“As members of the PJ&E team, we have jumped in with both feet and are eager to get started,” says co-chair Baynham. “We’re choosing to begin our work by identifying who is already engaged in justice work or who is interested in aligning with others to pursue justice and equity together.”

Helping to Connect One Another

“Realizing there are many MMSC members pursuing justice and equity in their local congregations, both as individuals and as congregations, we want to help you connect with one another,” says co-chair Avise-Rouse.

If you have any interest in justice and equity advocacy within the Conference or want to partner with other congregations or organizations, email co-chair Baynham, co-chair Avise-Rouse, or Transitional Conference Minister Rev. Mary Nelson.

Why Justice & Equity?

The call to justice through the proclamation of the Scriptures is one of the foundational stones upon which the United Church of Christ was formed. This denomination that attempted to champion civil rights in the 1950s and 60s is now tasked with fighting for the cause of justice for God’s children in this century. The acts of injustice and superiority have new names and faces; racism, gender inequality, Christian Nationalism, and various others.

Proverbs 21:15- “When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous, but dismay to evildoers.” (NRSV)
Focusing on Additional Issues

The team’s current focus also is on the following issues:

  • Disability justice in the Church (“My Body Is Not A Prayer Request: Disability Justice in the Church” book study)
  • Continued research addressing the Osage Headrights
  • Support of UCC clergy who are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the State of Missouri regarding religious freedom and abortion access
  • Ongoing legal attacks on the LGBTQIA+ and trans community by state governments (includes all three states encompassed in the MMSC)
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