By Jim Ruyle, Hillsdale United Church of Christ, Portland, OR
If the United Church of Christ is nothing else, it is a justice church. Consider the many justice issues appearing recently in our national and conference level websites: domestic violence, Native Americans, poverty, disabilities, hunger, violence against women, gun violence, racism, climate change, child labor, literacy, low income housing, refugees, Palestine/Israel, and LGBTQ youth. We are so energized by justice issues that we take joy in shouting them out when we name our local churches: “Multi-cultural, multi-racial, open and affirming, just peace, accessible, new sanctuary movement” and justifiably so. All these issues represent callings from God to the churches and people who embrace them.
But how does an issue qualify as a justice issue? Many seem obvious just to cite them. But what about issues which have received less recognition and are just emerging as matters of importance? How do they rise to a level such that they deserve cries of alarm and the investment of resources? Say for example that scientists predict that by the end of this century, one-half of our plant and animal species may be extinct – one-quarter by mid-century – at the rate we are destroying their habitat.