Justice and International Mission (JIM) unit staff member Denisse Sandoval is working with congregations in a new initiative to empower them to create social change. As part of this initiative, she is inviting congregations to reflect on the question, ‘What kind of Australia do we want to be?’
Ms Sandoval recently collaborated with Habitat Uniting Church’s social justice committee, who ran a worship service inviting congregation members to articulate their core values.
As part of the worship service, congregation members gathered broken plastic toys and gave each toy a placard or slogan to hold up. The placards reflected each congregation member’s vision for the kind of Australia they wish to see.
Rev Joan Wright Howie, minister of the Habitat Uniting Church, came with up the idea of using the broken toys when she explored the old Parliament house in Canberra with her son last year.
“Along one of the passages we discovered a collection of toys holding their banners. Their little signs were powerful expressions of the need to change,” she explained.
Ms Howie hopes Australia will become a country where our policies and practices align with our core values.
“For Christians, our values are formed as we wrestle with the scripture that proclaims a law grounded in love, where every creature is part of God’s good creation and calls human beings to attend to the needs of the most vulnerable,” she said.
“We are not isolated individuals, but part of a body where, if one part suffers, we all suffer.”
Ms Sandoval works with Uniting Church members to help them translate their concerns for social justice into meaningful action.
“I want to work with others towards a society shaped by compassion and love where people have opportunities to reach their full potential, regardless of their background,” Ms Sandoval said.
“I am excited to be working with congregations, helping them articulate their values and planning alongside them for how they can create positive change in the world.”
Before joining the JIM Unit, Ms Sandoval worked as a community organiser with faith groups in the United States. She is now bringing her expertise to run face-to-face workshops and facilitated discussions with social justice groups and congregations in the Uniting Church.
Habitat Uniting Church used broken toys as the first part of their response and Ms Sandoval is looking forward to working with them on the next steps in creating change. She would like to invite other churches to respond in their own way.
If your congregation would like to become involved, contact Denisse Sandoval at email@example.com