Trevecca Nazarene University

Mobilizing the church for social justice

(This article was published in the September 2013 issue of TrevEchoes - written by Isaiah Fish.)

More than 100 church leaders, lay people and students gathered on Trevecca’s campus September 12-14 for the Mobilizing the Church for Social Justice conference, hosted by the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice.

President Dan Boone, the opening plenary speaker for the first night, joined 13 other speakers and presenters to discuss a myriad of issues, ranging from gender-based violence to the biblical response to immigration.

“We as a church are not hopeless. Rather, we are inspired and empowered by the living hope of Jesus Christ that we shall overcome the social injustices of our time,” Jamie Casler, director of the Center for Social Justice, said as he opened the conference.

Around 130 individuals from all over the nation, as well as a few international visitors, descended upon campus to sit through workshops, listen to speakers, visit local ministries and collaborate with other attendees to discuss how the church is to address the injustices of this era.

Boone started off the conference on Thursday night speaking of the broad theology and biblical nature of social justice, which set the stage for the various presentations on Friday and Saturday.

The available workshops included presentations about environmental sustainability, the theological and sociological aspects of immigration and practical ways to involve the church in justice work, among others.

Dan Moranville, a Trevecca alum, who participated in the workshops, was able to attend the Radical Mission workshop by Brett Smith, a local church pastor and adjunct professor at Trevecca.

“He really broke it down to how to build the house, that was his analogy; here’s what you have to do to actually get the church to mobilize. That was probably the most helpful workshop for me, because that’s really the area where I feel called: to work from within the church to mobilize,” Moranville said of the Friday workshop.

Friday concluded with a showing of the film “Trade of Innocents,” which highlights the sex trafficking of children in southeast Asia. The final session on Saturday was filled with two more speakers regarding gender-based violence prevention, particularly in eastern Africa, and a question and answer time to end the conference.

James Copple, one of the keynote speakers for Saturday’s session, was generally optimistic about the conference and spoke highly of both the Center for Social Justice and about the event in general.

“It’s deep in our historical roots, and I wanted to be a part of this conversation,” Copple said in regards to his reasons for agreeing to speak.

Casler, at the conclusion of the conference on Saturday, mentioned that many potential attendees were unable to attend, and the Center for Social Justice currently has every intention of hosting another similar event next year.