The Justice Conference

The Justice ConferenceThe Justice Conference is one of the largest international gatherings on social and biblical justice.

Originating in the United States in 2010, the Conference journeyed to Australia for the first time last weekend.

Approximately 500 people attended the sold-out conference, held at Arrow on Swanston in Melbourne.

People from various churches throughout Australia joined in the two-day gathering.

Ken Wytsma, founder of The Justice Conference, hoped that participants came away from the event feeling refreshed, empowered and energised to continue the fight for justice.

“The idea of justice is so important that we need a conference on it,” Mr Wytsma said.

“Justice is a part of the life of our faith. Justice, like truth, is a universal concept.”

Several Uniting Church members spoke at the conference.

Matt Anslow from Hope Uniting Church in Sydney has been involved with Love Makes a Way since its inception. The ecumenical movement organises sit-in actions at the office of MPs to raise awareness of Australia’s asylum seeker policies.

Mr Anslow stressed that nonviolence does not equal passivity. Rather, it can be a creative force for seeking alternate ways to bring about change.

“We decided that civil disobedience is an option we must take in order to put our bodies, in a small way, against injustice.”

Mr Anslow said that justice means welcoming the enemy and treating wrongdoers with respect and dignity.

“You don’t see justice by dehumanising anyone – politicians or asylum seekers,” he said.

“We seek to transform those who don’t agree with us or who are perpetrators of injustice.”

 

Matt Anslow from Love Makes a Way

Matt Anslow from Love Makes a Way

Barbara Deutschmann is a founding member of Christians for Biblical Equality and attends Flynn Uniting Church in Alice Springs.

Ms Deutschmann warned against the dangers of gender stereotypes, which she argued “really limits the potential of people”.

She discussed how ideologies of male superiority can create generalisations about the female mind that restrict women’s participation in leadership decisions.

“Women will bring different perspectives to the table. They will not bring different brains.”

Despite some progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal of improved maternal health throughout the world, a woman still dies every eight minutes from complications due to unsafe childbirth.

Significant discrepancies in maternal health exist in Australia too.

“The maternal mortality rate is three times higher for Indigenous Australians than the rest of the population,” Ms Deutschmann said.

“It is amazing in our developed society that this inequality is still the case.”

The Justice Conference

Eugene Cho, founder and pastor at Quest Church in Seattle, was the keynote speaker for the Saturday morning and evening sessions.

Rev Cho discussed how justice is central to the gospel and reflects the character of God.

“Justice is not an accessory you wear on and off,” Rev Cho said. “Justice is the very nature of who God is.”

Rev Cho urged participants to practice justice beyond the doors of the church. But he warned that pursuing justice can come at a great personal price.

“Everyone loves justice – until there is a cost,” he said.

“There is always a cost to doing justice. And there is always a cost to following Jesus.”

 

Eugene Cho

Eugene Cho

The synod’s social media team tweeted from The Justice Conference and captured highlights from the event on Storify.

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