“And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”- Micah 6:8
Justice vs. Mercy
A mercy ministry seeks to help individual survivors of injustice. This is sometimes called “direct service”. There are many ministries like this in our community- tutoring programs, soup kitchens, etc. These are necessary and a part of our calling as people of faith who respect the life and dignity of others.
Our justice ministry seeks to address systemic problems that create these injustices. Our goal is to hold our community and its leaders to fair practices, policies, and structures that will address the roots of poverty and injustice. For example, when our justice ministry addressed the problem of housing, we did not build the houses ourselves, as an act of mercy. We held the city of Charlottesville accountable to putting a system in place that will consistently fund affordable housing, known as an affordable housing trust fund. Over $7million has been invested in this trust fund, and it ensures that resources in the community are leveraged and used fairly.
Justice ministry is something that cannot be done individually. On our own we are powerless to create these large changes. It takes the power of people to move our systems towards fair practices. Sometimes one voice alone will not be heard, and heeded. It takes a much larger voice for others to listen and for change to happen.
Our ministries are focused on building this power through people- people of faith who have a calling to do justice.
IMPACT member congregations share the same vision: if we can come together 52 times a year to worship, then surely we can come together just once a year to fulfill our calling to do justice. We call this vision 52/1. Because each and every one of us are required to do justice, our member congregations are working towards turning out their average weekly attendance–the number of people who attend weekly worship services–just once a year to the Nehemiah Action.
IMPACT’s strength in numbers and diversity is the source of our power to create local systemic change. IMPACT uses an organizing process- of creating justice ministry networks– that has been successfully used locally and in other cities to win education reform, millions of dollars for health care and affordable housing, implementation of community-based policing efforts, just to name a few.