2011 Peace with Justice grants

The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) has awarded grants totaling $50,000 to 18 Peace with Justice ministries. The grants are awarded in conjunction with the denomination’s Peace with Justice Sunday, which witnesses to God’s demand for a faithful, just, disarmed and secure world.

Peace with Justice Sunday, held on June 19 this year, is one of the six denomination-wide Special Sundays with offering. Established by the 1988 General Conference, the denomination’s highest policy-making body, Peace with Justice Sunday supports programs that advocate peace and justice at home and around the world.

Half of the Special Sunday offering is retained in the annual conference to fund local peace with justice programs. Half is remitted to the General Board of Church & Society to help fund U.S. and global work in social action, public-policy education and advocacy.

Southeastern Jurisdiction

Fiesta Cristiana Latino Community, a congregation within Apex (N.C.) United Methodist Church, will receive $2,000 to support the benevolence fund associated with a series of legal clinics for immigrants. Besides legal services and advocacy education, Fiesta Cristiana will financially assist persons in need of emergency immigration-law relief involving asylum, abuse and victimization. The fund will also provide support to adjustment-of-status-qualifying attendees who demonstrate strong financial need according to government poverty guidelines.

The N.C. Council of Churches (NCCC) has been approved to receive $2,000 for “Worldchanging 101 — Ecumenical Student Activism Retreat.” Planned for this fall at a retreat center in Western North Carolina, the gathering of college students will explore faithful responses to societal problems through social justice work and activism. The students will wrestle with vocation and responsibility, as well as with issues of militarism, violence, poverty and discrimination.

Both the North Carolina and Western North Carolina conferences are members of NCCC. In fact, The Methodist Church has been a member since NCCC’s founding in 1935.

Lighthouse United Methodist Community Center in Louisville, Ky., will receive $5,000 for its work through after-school and summer programs with at-risk children. Lighthouse works in a neighborhood where 40% of children live in single-parent homes below the poverty level.

Lighthouse is undertaking an aggressive expansion program that will increase its services from 68 children in 2010 to 250 by 2013. Three public schools that are the among the poorest performing in Jefferson County refer children to the community center.

The Memphis Conference has been granted $2,500 for “Mediation & Conflict Resolution Training.” The program, based in Jackson, Tenn., will train mediators to provide free assistance to persons of limited means in resolving differences in their communities through the local General Session and Juvenile Court systems.

The training can also be used to facilitate victim/offender mediations, intra-church disputes and to engender community conflict resolution processes, according to Linda Warren-Seeley, chair of the Conference Board of Church & Society who is herself an attorney and a rule 31 Mediator. She is director of the training program.

Tenn. Justice for Our Neighbors (TJFON), Nashville, will receive $4,000. Part of the United Methodist Committee on Relief national network, TJFON provides hospitality and free immigration legal services for low-income individuals. The clinic also engages the faith community in advocacy on behalf of immigrant neighbors.

The Nashville clinic accepts cases through monthly intake sessions hosted by volunteers at Hillcrest United Methodist Church. Volunteers organize the clinic, do initial interviews, provide food and childcare, and refer immigrants for legal advice on humanitarian issues. These include naturalizations, family reunification, self-petitions for battered women, unaccompanied immigrant children, special visas, human trafficking, temporary protected status claims.

Where is the North Georgia Conference in efforts to work for justice, hospitality for strangers, conflict resolution, integration of displaced persons into local communities and churches, etc? I don’t doubt that there are many churches doing these exact type of programs – let’s hear about them! Toot your horn and tell us!


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