We're a Just Peace congregation
The United Church of Christ: Proclaiming a Just Peace for 30 Years
(From the 30th anniversary of the UCC's Just Peace movement in 2015)
On February 12, 2023, the people of St. James UCC unanimously approved this Just Peace (Peace with Justice) Covenant proposed by our Mission and Social Action Team:
"JUST PEACE" ("PEACE WITH JUSTICE") COVENANT
As a congregation of the United Church of Christ, we recognize the importance of promoting justice and peace throughout the world, in our nation, in our community, and in ourselves.
The people of our predecessor denominations took an early stand against slavery and laid the foundation for the abolitionist movement, protested unfair taxation in the Boston Tea Party, founded the first school for the deaf, and ordained the first woman pastor. Since 1957, the United Church of Christ has been weaving God's message of hope and extravagant welcome with social action for justice and peace. The people of the UCC were in the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, ordained the first openly gay person in a mainline Protestant denomination, and were the first Christian denomination to affirm the right of same-gender couples to marry. The UCC promotes peaceful opposition to intolerance, injustice, discrimination, violence, and war.
General Synod 15 of the United Church of Christ called on local churches to adopt a Covenant of Openness and Affirmation, and we declared ourselves to be an Open and Affirming congregation. That same General Synod also called on all in the UCC to recognize that the creation of a Just Peace is central to their identity as Christians and to their baptism into the Christian community, and to witness for a Just Peace.
The Vision Statement of St. James United Church of Christ calls us to "act in Christian compassion and point to the love of Christ as agents of change within the wider community." In the Beatitudes, in Matthew 5:5, Jesus taught the gathered crowds (and us): "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Throughout the Gospels, Jesus stood in solidarity with the poor, oppressed, and marginalized. Therefore, we covenant among ourselves and with God to seek the ways of justice and peace in order to make a difference and be agents of change in our lives and the lives of all who experience injustice and violence.
In order to promote peace with justice, we agree:
To include regularly in our corporate worship prayers for justice and peace;
To occasionally focus worship services and/or special events on justice and peace through scripture, prayer, responsive readings, sermons, special offerings, or speakers, where appropriate;
To act individually and as a faith community as a people dedicated to promoting justice and peace as expressions of God's love;
To be a voice of protest against social and political structures comfortable with violence and injustice;
To encourage and support our members concerning God’s call to further justice and peace in volunteering for programs of justice-seeking and peacemaking; and
To have our Church Council, Pastor, and Mission and Social Action Team encourage participation in the principles of this covenant.
Responding to the pronouncement of General Synod 15 of the United Church of Christ, we covenant to do this in our efforts to be faithful to God's call in Jesus Christ to seek the ways of peace with justice as children of God.