This blog will be a record of our Peace, Justice, and Reconciliation program from beginning to end. It is one of the ways we have chosen to share our story. Many of the posts will be brief, but we hope they will preserve a record of the choices we have made and the things we have done. It should help us to evaluate when and how our programs have been effective.
We also hope that this blog might be useful to other Christian Educators, both within and outside our American Baptist family. We will not only post stories and pictures from our program, but will also include more technical information about the resources and materials we’ve used. (When we design our own materials, we will make them available here.)
In this way, First Baptist Church of Indianapolis hopes to make a small contribution to an important conversation as we try to understand how twenty-first century Christians can contribute to peace, justice, and reconciliation in the world.
Last spring, a small team of FBC members wrote an application for the Youth Ministry Grant Initiative, a program of the Center for Congregations. The Youth Ministry Grant Initiative (or YMGI) is a matching grant program intended to help local congregations fund new programs that:
contribute to the faith formation and religious identity of middle and high school students, reflect the deepest commitments and highest values of the congregation, and have a long-term impact and can be built upon in the future.
We proposed a program focused on peace, justice, and reconciliation. We imagined that our students would explore these concepts from the perspective of their Christian faith. They would ask what these words mean to Christians and how Christians can contribute to peace, justice, and reconciliation in our world. They would read scripture and talk about Christians beliefs, and they would also explore three contemporary stories:
- The Black Freedom Struggle in the United States
- The Causes and Effects of Poverty in Indianapolis
- Civil War and Oppression in Postcolonial Burma
As much as possible, our students would hear these stories from the perspective of the victims of injustice. They would try to understand why Christians continue to work for peace, justice, and reconciliation even in the context of overwhelming, systemic injustice. Our students would be challenged to approach the reality of injustice with hope, and to consider how their personal faith invites (or demands) that they respond to our world’s need for peace, justice, and reconciliation.
Our application was accepted.
So Where Are We Now?
Now the process is officially underway.
Cheryl Loggins and I have begun the educational portion of the program. We will be attending three classes designed to bring us up-to-speed on current trends in Christian Education and Formation for youth. We are assembling a team of FBC members to oversee the program from beginning to end. Over the next few months, we will work with the Center for Congregations’ staff to make final plans and prepare our final grant application (It’s their job to help ensure that our application is ready to go).
So until further notice, we’ll be making schedules, planning activities, contacting partners and assembling resources. We’ll return to our plans from last spring and decide when and how and what it will take to actually accomplish them. We’ll start figuring out how to raise our matching funds!
And, of course, we’ll be getting more and more excited about all the possibilities. We believe this experience will make a difference in the lives of our students and the whole congregation at First Baptist Church of Indianapolis.