Social Concerns and Outreach Committees
Many at St. John’s have a heart for social justice. It is clear that our commitment to peace and justice grows as we engage more fully the social concerns around us. For many years, groups of parishioners have traveled to the Albany State Capitol to advocate for justice alongside farmworkers and migrant workers, demanding fair and equitable treatment for all who grow the food we eat. Some of us write to people in prison, others work toward restorative justice in the larger Kingston community; we work for Climate Justice; even the church bell rings in protest against capital punishment in concert with For Whom the Bell Tolls.
For the last couple of years the Social Concerns committee has joined with hundreds of our neighbors as we seek an end to gun violence. We’ve marched across the Walkway Over the Hudson in solidarity with young and old, we have worshiped with our neighbors (three doors down) from Congregation Emanuel of the Hudson Valley following the deaths of eleven worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We have stood alongside our Muslim brothers and sisters following the Christchurch mosque mass shooting. We hosted an Interfaith Gun Violence Awareness Day, where a labyrinth was placed on the St. John’s lawn and tee shirts with the names of victims of gun violence were placed both at St. John’s and Congregation Emanuel.
On a brighter note, each year we celebrate with the LGBTQIA2S+ community by participating in the annual Pride Parade and Festival in New Paltz, and displaying the rainbow flag from the front of St. John’s.
We believe that the ministry of all the baptized is to help interpret to the Church the needs, concerns and hopes of the world. It is certainly the mandate given to deacons at our ordination service. But it is not for deacons alone. We all share in the vocation of a church called to follow Jesus out into the world, leaving behind the security of our own parish. Certainly that’s a tall order. Yet these mandates are not optional. They are required of and central to the mission of St. John’s and the wider Church. Dismantling racism, ending poverty, just immigration practices, housing the unhoused, climate change, and gun violence impact us all. Instances of abuse by local authorities; the need for affordable and supportive housing; and sanctuary for threatened people are some of the social issues that many in our local faith communities are working together to address.
As we joyfully gather each Sunday around the Eucharistic table and share in the body of Christ, we are transformed. We BECOME the body of Christ in the world and are sent out into that broken world in mission. Our ministry, like the disciples before us, is to respond to human need by loving service; to seek and transform unjust structures of society; and to safeguard the integrity of creation, challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation.
With a deep faith and a love for all people as children of God, we will continue to be the Light of Christ in a suffering world. What issues impact your life? Come, join us in the work of beloved community. Many hands make light work!