Advocacy is in our DNA
September 26, 2018
Why are we as United Methodists so dedicated to social issues and fighting for justice in our communities? Well, it’s literally at the heart of who we are and how we view the world. Below, Rev. Holly Bandel, our Minister for Missions and Advocacy, talks about our foundation of advocacy and how FirstChurch is occupying this space in service to the Dallas community.
*Thanks to Susan Holloway, FUMC Dallas Church & Society Chair, for her research contributions to this post.
Advocacy is a bridge between what is and what is God’s preferred future for our community and world. When we grow as disciples of Christ, we also mature in our ability to be present and stand with our neighbors allowing their stories to be told and heard. As we look at the Bible, we see stories of advocacy in abundance, where God’s grace and mercy is at work through advocates who bring about good on behalf of those who suffer.
Jesus advocates for children to come to him, a woman to be saved and forgiven from the judgement of those throwing stones, and for the cries of the blind man to be heard. Our Christian call to advocacy is clear, “Seek Justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of the orphans. Fight for the rights of widows” (Isaiah 1:17). Jesus’ mission to bring good news to the poor is our own.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, did this instinctively as he fed the poor, helped the sick, advocated for the coal miner and visited those in prison. Wesley said, “There is no holiness but social holiness.” Today, in the United Methodist Church, advocacy is a part of our baptismal covenant “to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”
Advocacy is also a part of our polity and discipline. As a church, we value separation of church and state, but not in order to sever the relationship between the two. The church’s role is to exert moral influence on the state—challenging prejudices, speaking out against acts of discrimination and seeking to change unfair policies and laws.
We advocate through prayer, protests, voting, lobbying and community organizing as a start. We do not endorse candidates, but rather educate, discuss, discern and act on the issues of our day.
Come learn more about advocacy on the issues of public education, immigration, affordable housing and voting rights related to our community at our 5th Sunday Mission experience at 9:45 a.m. September 30. May we continue to grow together as disciples who love and build bridges through advocacy with our neighbors.