Conversation with Michael Ramos, Executive Director of The Church Council of Greater Seattle
Preaching and visiting at Crystal Springs Congregation, May 5, 2019
“If you engage with one issue deeply, you will be connected with all issues.” Choose one. Choose well.
CCGS as its mission connects congregations to do justice:
- A Just Economy
- Affordable Housing
- Advocacy for public funding
- Community Organizing Focus
As Crystal discerns its own calling / community organizing focus, you must ask, ‘What is happening locally in our own neighborhoods?
Get to know your surrounding neighbors. (We often don’t know our sibling neighboring faith communities (Christian or inter-faith). If neighboring congregations (Example, on Capitol Hill in Seattle) would get to know each other and unite on common issues, the city would be transformed.
Right now the Church Council spends lots of time responding to incidents of hate and violence.
“Community organizing is built on personal relationships.”
As faith communities discern their calling from God, ask yourselves: “How do we serve Christ’s truth?” “How do we serve Christ’s truth with others?” Invest in each other. Belong to each other.
“Pursue your own [faith community’s] teaching and realize your own capacity to make a difference.”
Michael has been working to eliminate homelessness in the region for decades. Yet here we are, with the third highest rates of homelessness in the nation. We have extremes of wealth and poverty. A living wage and affordable housing are linked!
We [faith communities] must have genuine encounters with people on the margins. Churches often become insular in their routines. We must be willing to be uncomfortable.
Two feet needed for social justice:
- The foot of direct service (such as feeding and clothing the hungry)
- The foot of social change (while transforming culture and self)
You can’t walk without both feet!
We should be bringing marginalized people to the center.
When Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of “the beloved community,” he warned us to pay attention to the “Giants of Evil.”
- Materialism (Poverty)
Today we must add “Environmental Degradation” –“Climate Justice”
The church is called to address these “quadruplets of evil.”
If a congregation chooses to focus on one issue (his recommendation), you will find you are addressing all.
Example: If you address racism, you will address economic justice.
We must use our own faith voice. The secular community needs that voice.
“Go deeply to the roots of your tradition. “Peace” and “peacemaking” are deep in the DNA of Community of Christ. Bring the spirit of peace to whatever you do.”
Sometimes, it is important just to be present. [Discussion of people of faith being present at 29 public hearings with the City of Bellevue to allow permitting a shelter for unhoused people.] Your presence changes the discussion and outcome.
Be present at City Hall.
Michael closed with his reminder that people of faith are not called to be successful. They are called to be faithful. Know that, incrementally, the world is better for our faithfulness, which allows God’s grace to work. MLK, JR.: the arc of history bends towards justice.
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