Social Justice

The Justice and Advocacy Committee and Social Justice at First Presbyterian Church 

The purpose of the Justice and Advocacy Committee (JAC) is to lead church members and others in “working for the transformation of society by seeking justice” and “the proper use of the gifts of God’s creation”, as specified in the Book of Order.  As a PC(USA) Matthew 25 church, our primary focus is on understanding the systemic forces that tyrannize, as well as, supporting the forces that restore the dignity of all people.

JAC Chair: Rita Brown, rbrown6115@verizon.net
Social Justice Resources from the PC(USA): Office of Public Witness, Compassion, Peace and Justice, Sustainable Living

 

Environmental Justice seeks to rectify the extreme disparity in the impact of environmental burdens versus benefits on diverse populations and regions in the United States and around the world.  Historically, people of color, indigenous peoples and other minorities have suffered under laws, policies and common practices that force them to live and work in unhealthy and unsafe areas created by various kinds of pollution, climate change, destruction of natural habitats and degrading infrastructure. The Justice and Advocacy Committee provides information to our members on ways they can protect God’s gift of creation in their daily lives and actively work towards a world where all God's children are heard and treated with dignity.

“Restoring creation is not a short-term concern to be handled in a few years, but a continuing task to which the nation and the world must give attention and commitment, and which has profound implications for the life, work and witness of Christian people and church agencies.” From PC(USA) Environmental Policy.

Environmental Justice Resources:
Source materials come from our denomination PC(USA) and several faith-based organizations listed below and other verifiable sources. Use the contact information to learn more and find ways you can take action.

Presbyterian Church (USA) – pcusa.org
 • The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness has ongoing opportunities to make your voice heard with your elected representatives in nonpartisan ways.
 • The Presbyterian Hunger Program and the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People run a wide range of programs around the world. They offer descriptions of the needs being addressed and opportunities to support and participate in their work. “Environmental Justice is a clear place where social justice, environment, hunger and poverty come together”.
Living Waters for the World provides water purification systems and health education to communities around the world.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance responds to water and other related disasters.

Greenfaith Circle of Southern New Jersey (www.greenfaith.org) brings together people of diverse faiths and spiritualities to put belief into action for the Earth. Our Mission: Connecting people of faith and spiritual communities to inspire, influence, and motivate individuals, groups, and institutions, to protect and regenerate our living earth for current and future generations.  Greenfaith International embodies a spiritual, moral, locally-organized and globally-connected response to environmental concerns. 

Climate Reality Project (www.climaterealityproject.org) is a non-profit organization involved in education and advocacy related to climate change.

Interfaith Power and Light | Faith in action for a safe climate (www.interfaithpowerandlight.org)is a national leader in engaging faith communities in environmental stewardship and climate action. Find Your State Locate IPL programs, activitities, and resources in your state. Take Action Write Congress, sign petitions, and support stronger EPA standards NOW. Get Updates

Tri-County Sustainability Alliance (TriCSA - www.tcsahub.org) is open to sustainability enthusiasts in the Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester counties looking to improve their communities and connect regionally. TriCSA is a Sustainable Jersey hub (a designated affiliate helping coordinate municipalities in our region.

Food & Water Watch (www.foodandwaterwatch.org) mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold & uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (www.usa.gov/agencies/environmental-protection-agency) protects people and the environment from significant health risks, sponsors and conducts research, and develops and enforces environmental regulations. On the EPA's website, you can look at concerns in your own watershed and other areas at EPA’s Surf Your Watershed.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (www.ucsusa.org) is a nonprofit science advocacy organization based in the United States.

WHYY item of interest with local impact - https://whyy.org/articles/gibbstown-lng-rail-proposal-new-jersey-pennsylvania-natural-gas/

HELP PROTECT POLLINATORS as you prepare your lawn or garden for winter? Use these tips to help bees survive until spring.  Taking even one of these steps will make a big difference for pollinators in your backyard. Try them all, or just a few, to help ensure that bees will have a safe and warm winter. Then, make sure you encourage your friends to do the same! When spring comes again in just a few short months, buzzing bees and colorful butterflies will emerge again to thank you for keeping them safe during the coldest time of the year.

 

                                                                             

 


Dismantling Structural Racism


EMBRACING RACE - The Conversation is teaming up with NAACP Camden County East Youth Council and others for a private screening of Origin on March 17, written and directed by Ava DuVernay, and based on Isabel Wilkerson's NYTimes bestseller, Caste - The Origins of Our Discontents.  Purchase tickets via Eventbrite link below:

 https://www.eventbrite.com/e/origin-movie-private-screening-tickets-854133003807?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

 The proceeds of this event go towards the Youth Council's Annual College Tours, where members of the Council and surrounding community have toured schools all over the country from Dartmouth to FAMU.  Contact embracing.race.conversation@gmail.com for more information.

The ticket price is $25 and includes popcorn and drink.


Our vision: We advocate and act to breakdown the systems, practices, and thinking that underlie discrimination, bias, prejudice, and oppression of people of color. 

Structural Racism is the normalizing of racism within institutions and structures. Once racism is structural and institutional (as it is in the United States), it creates ongoing, persistent inequality. Inequality occurs in accessing money, land, housing, education, health, information, and social power. Because inequality is a part of the structures and institutions that we interact with every day, it often goes unquestioned and unchallenged by most of society or the dominant culture. In the United States, structural racism particularly advantages white people while producing negative impacts for people of color.

  • Racism is measured not by intent, but by its impact on those who are oppressed.
  • Racism can be overt or covert, individual or systemic, intentional or unintentional.
  • Racism grants privilege to some and sustains the dominant group.
  • Racism exists everywhere in our society, and in all institutions, including our church.

Some of our efforts and our partners' efforts:

Courageous Conversations - As a predominately white community, we strive to increase awareness of white culture and to decrease discomfort with speaking about race through ongoing conversations. See educational resources and opportunities on the Adult Education page.

Exploring the History of Race in Haddonfield - We seek to explore the lack of racial diversity in our town, using the resources of the Haddonfield Historical Society.

Reaching Out in Healing Ways to Support and Partner with Other Organizations - First Presbyterian's Session recognizes that throughout U.S. history African American composers have not been compensated equitably for the music they have created. To remedy this in “our little way,” the congregation is invited to make a donation whenever we sing an African American Spiritual, whether it’s the choir anthem or a hymn. This donation goes directly to The Essence of Harmony Choral Society to assist them in purchasing music, supporting professional musicians, and paying venue fees.

The Essence of Harmony Choral Society focuses explicitly on celebrating the works of both classical and under-recognized African-American composers. In addition, the group presents classics and anthems, spirituals, and contemporary gospel music. 
To donate to the Essence of Harmony Choral Society: 

To Find More Information About What You Can Do to Dismantle Racism Go to:
·       PC(USA) Office of Public Witness under Ministries/ Justice and Advocacy at pcusa.org.
·       Embracing Race- the Conversation at embracingraceconversation.org for events to attend and actions you can take (click on the "calendar" tab for dates and times)

Voting Rights

Members of the Justice and Advocacy Committee work with the League of Women Voters to help open pathways needed to end the systemic racism and political forces that have barred millions of Americans from registering to vote and having free access to polling places.  We encourage every member of our congregation to prayerfully discern how God wants our country to function and vote accordingly.

The League of Women Voters (www.lwv.org) a nonpartisan, grassroots organization working to protect and expand voting rights and ensure everyone is represented in our democracy. We empower voters and defend democracy through advocacy, education, and litigation, at the local, state, and national levels.

 

ENDING GUN VIOLENCE

First Presbyterian Church's Session has adopted a resolution to observe the first Friday in June as Gun Violence Awareness Day. Read the resolution here. We encourage you to wear orange on June 7, and engage in prayer and faithful action to reduce gun violence in our society. 

Gun violence is the number one cause of death for children in America. Gun violence includes suicide, accidental and deliberate injury from a gun, and the trauma inflicted on victims, families and communities.

Read  “The  PC(USA)’s  Office of Public Witness Asks Presbyterians to Take Action to End Gun Violence" for an action alert. Link here to PC(USA)'s gun violence policies and resources. PC(USA)'s 10 Things You Can Do to Prevent Gun Violence

Ending Gun Violence Resources and Organizations:

The Be SMART campaign was launched to raise awareness that every adult can play a role in keeping children and communities safe from gun violence such as suicide, mass shootings and accidental shootings.  It’s based on verified research data and public records in a non-partisan, non-judgmental fashion and three things most people can agree on.
1. We all want kids to grow up happy and healthy.
2. We each have the right to make responsible decisions about how to
protect our homes, families and communities—including whether or not
to have a gun in our home.
3. If we can prevent even one child gun death, or injury, it’s our (the adults’ not child’s)
responsibility to do so.

It’s not about laws or policies.  It’s important to remember that even if YOU are practicing secure storage, or if you don’t have a gun in your home, you can’t be sure about other homes. You can’t be sure about how responsible other people are being. And that’s where the Be SMART program becomes helpful. What can we do?  Attend a Be SMART presentation for help with the more challenging components and open discussions and go to besmartforkids.org to learn more.  We can learn to Be…

Secure guns in homes and vehicles.
Model responsible behavior.
Ask about unsecured guns in other homes.
Recognize the risks of teen suicide.
Tell your peers to be SMART. 

The Extreme Risk Protective Order  (ERPO - OneThingYouCanDo.org) is a New Jersey law that helps families protect loved ones who pose a significant danger of causing injury to themselves or others. Extreme risk protective orders are designed to help law enforcement and concerned family members intervene quickly in dangerous situations. The OneThingYouCanDo website gives state by state information on how to take this protective action.

MOMS DEMAND ACTION for Gun Sense in America (momsdemandaction.org) is a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence. "We pass stronger gun laws and work to close the loopholes that jeopardize the safety of our families. We also work in our own communities and with business leaders to encourage a culture of responsible gun ownership." The website gives information about local chapters.


                        

First Presbyterian Church
OF HADDONFIELD


   

20 King's Highway East, Haddonfield, NJ 08033
(856) 429-1960


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