Mandate for Justice: Inside and Outside

Seminarians for Social Justice

Reflections from CSJR Student Ambassadors

“It cannot be overstated how important it is to be educated on social justice issues. Everyone is due certain universal rights when it comes to what is just. The essential three include access to food, shelter, and clean water. These are frequently taken for granted by the vast majority of people in some countries, yet there are always gaps. Our seminary education serves as a reminder of both this reality and the fact that Jesus has commissioned us to combat injustice and oppression. A second important benefit of seminary education is that it helps us approach social justice issues with surgical precision rather than just by viewing them through a more in-depth theological lens. As we are given opportunities to put what we have learned into practice in the real world, my work with the CSJR has enriched my seminary education. The CSJR has also given other organizations, such as the Reimagining America Project (RAP), a launchpad.” — Ryan Atkinson

“In my mind, seminary training and social justice education cannot be separated. Understanding God’s vision for justice through the prophets and embodied in Jesus is more than a classroom exercise. It is at the heart of our pastoral responsibility, and we must continue to develop as leaders called into the work of social justice. As a fellow for the Center for Social Justice and Reconciliation, I have been so grateful for the opportunities to grow into this call.”

Social justice is the intersection of my professional nonprofit role and my seminary education. It has been a vital link between the two, deepening my daily work and expanding opportunities in the classroom. Embodying a theology of social justice in my nonprofit role often means pushing to understand and address the root causes of an issue. As part of a charity that meets the basic needs of people experiencing homelessness, justice requires emphasis on the affordable housing crisis. Social justice embedded within my theological study has allowed me to make these practical applications to my work, but, more so, it has opened up my seminary experience and broadened my discernment.

Through hosting the African American Preaching Series and organizing student programs on topics like Theopoetics, the CSJR has given me not only new ideas, but also a new community in which to wrestle with them.” — Evan Bille

“I was anticipating starting seminary and not knowing what to expect. One of my professors encouraged me to apply for the CSJR student ambassador scholarship. Through the CSJR, I have met some great people both inside and outside of Union Presbyterian Seminary. I am especially thankful to Rev. Dr. Rodney Sadler and Erin Mills for being so patient with me through my growing pains as a seminary student and CSJR student ambassador. Before being a part of the CSJR, I did not know what social justice was or about its relevance to seminary education.

All of what encompasses social justice was important to Jesus, and it matters now. The injustice we witness and experience in the world can be addressed from a biblical perspective. The Church is vital for social justice, so that everyone can experience a just reality. What I have learned through Union Presbyterian Seminary and the CSJR has helped me to have less of a theoretical perspective and more of a real-world perspective. I had the privilege of going on the Civil Rights Travel Seminar, and it helped me realize how much I did not know. The Civil Rights Travel Seminar showed me the people who suffered and sacrificed for the freedom we have now, and showed me that the work is not done.” — DiAndra Brooks

“Conversations, workshops, and conferences rooted in social justice are critical in a world that is becoming even more divided. Places like the Center for Social Justice and Reconciliation are needed in theological institutions in order to prepare future faith leaders for work in various settings. There is a need for places where hard conversations about issues of justice and faith can be engaged in within the community. I know that I am grateful for the opportunities the CSJR has afforded me in the collective thinking and discerning of different modalities of involvement that can be taken to the places where I will find myself in my ministry going forward.

What is very clear is that justice is an issue that impacts so many people. There are not many places in our society where justice has no place. And in that spirit, there must always be a willingness to be open as to what participating in justice work may look like. It is written in the book of Micah that we are to love justice and to do kindness and walk humbly with God. The sermon Jesus gave in Matthew 25 is a sermon on doing justice. May we continue to find places to ponder on and act justly.” — Kirk Louis


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