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Justice Ministry Spotlight: Commission for Justice and Peace

Commission for Justice and Peace
The Ven. Diane Riley

Based on the goals in the diocese’s 2023 Strategic Vision, the four primary justice groups (the Anti-Racism Commission, the Racial History Committee, the Racial Justice and Healing Commission, and the Commission for Justice and Peace) are teaming with the Anti-Sexism Task Force, the Commission on Hispanic/Latino Ministry, the Prison Ministry, and the Newark Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians to collaborate and coordinate their work and elevate the stature of justice ministries across the diocese. In addition, they hope to create more opportunities for individuals and congregations to participate in justice-related activities. As part of that effort, we will be featuring articles about our justice ministries in each edition of The VOICE Online through the rest of the year. For this edition, the focus is on the Commission for Justice and Peace.

Bishop Hughes created the Commission for Justice and Peace in 2021, as part of developing a broad approach to justice ministry for the diocese. The other groups included in that effort are the Racial History Committee and the Racial Justice and Healing Commission, and the pre-existing Anti-Racism Commission. The mission of the Commission for Justice and Peace “is to grow the Beloved Community, a community in which everyone is cared for absent of poverty, hunger and hate.” The Commission develops diocesan advocacy and resources that support the beloved community and address issues that challenge it. In short, they teach about the prevalent issues and share how to act.

The group offers numerous resources for congregations and individuals in the diocese on specific justice issues such as Hunger, gun violence, reproductive choice and voting rates. They have also hosted webinars on food policy and affordable housing in New Jersey. These materials and recordings are available on their page of the diocesan website. During Lent, they hosted a book study series examining poverty through the lens of Matthew Desmond’s “Poverty, by America” that was open to members of the diocese.

Moving forward, as the nation approaches the next general election, the Commission for Peace and Justice will sponsor training sessions using A Guide to Civil Discourse, a program developed by the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations and Department of Faith Formation, in partnership with ChurchNext, a ministry of Forward Movement. It is an interactive curriculum that uses the tool of civil discourse to find new ways to love our neighbor. Sessions are scheduled for Tuesdays, August 6, 13, and 20 from 6:30-8:30 PM. The training will cover tenets for civil discourse, values-based conversations, the messiness of policymaking, and the importance of maintaining a sacred space for debate. The Commission hopes it will motivate our congregations to enter confidently into constructive conversations on the important issues facing our local communities, our country, and the world. The training is offered at no cost to members of the diocese.

Registration and additional information will be available soon but please add the sessions to your calendars and share with your congregations!

Members of the Commission

Jody Caldwell, Co-leader – Redeemer, Morristown
Julie Crawford – Messiah, Chester
Marsha Mackey – St. Mark’s, Teaneck
Joy Manasse – St. Andrew & Holy Communion, South Orange
Nancy Meyer – St. Agnes’, Little Falls
Thomas Reynolds – Christ Church, Bloomfield/Glen Ridge
Diane Riley, Co-leader – Grace, Madison
Laura Russell – All Saints, Hoboken
Belinda Stokes – St. Paul’s & Incarnation, Jersey City