A group of Anderson University students studying Peace and Conflict Transformation (PACT) traveled to Chicago for a peace conference this spring. The North Park Justice Summit and Chicago Reload combined the passion and focus of ministry with social justice. The conference focused in part on urban ministry and issues of income and race.
“The speakers talked about what social justice looks like, how to get involved, church involvement with social justice, and how, as Christians, we are called to be educated, radical advocates,” said Rachael Huddy, a 2012 AU grad and Christian ministries major. Speakers at the conference included the North Park University pastor, professors on staff at the university, Sojourners founder Jim Wallis, and civil rights activist Cornel West.
[Photo: Judy Peterson, North Park University’s campus pastor, spoke at the North Park Justice Summit in March.]
Along with the main speakers, workshops were also offered to focus on more specific areas. “My favorite workshop was about worker justice and worker rights. I learned a lot about some of the injustices that take place in the areas of worker compensation and worker rights,” said Jonathon Hosea, a junior communication arts major. “The main thing I learned is how vital the church is to addressing issues of social injustice.”
The workshops challenged participants in some core ideas in justice work: presence, policy, programming, and perceptions.
“I went to a workshop that debunked the myths and assumptions about immigration,” said Josey Dies, a junior psychology major. “The discussion made me want to pursue the situation further to knowledgeably stand up for those who are oppressed.”
The conference influenced the students differently but caused each to walk away from the experience with more knowledge than before.
“At the conference I was surrounded by passionate, like-minded individuals, and it sparked a re-igniting of passion and hope inside of me. I took away a lot of very practical information about how to effectively and positively impact my community and advocate for those in need. I also took away a lot of broad grand theories on social justice and how to act effectively,” said Huddy.
The PACT and Advocacy+Awareness programs at AU enabled the students to attend the conference.
Each of the students found personal meaning within the conference. “One of the speakers, Campus Pastor Judy Peterson, spoke about the church's history of focusing on individual spirituality and ignoring issues of justice,” said Hosea. “Now, some are so jaded by the church's failure that we focus on social justice and completely ignore the place of spirituality in the process. We need a combination of both. Justice will happen and equality can succeed if it is rooted in spiritual practice and faith.”
— Leah Streeval is a junior from Edinburgh, Ind., majoring in communication arts and minoring in entrepreneurship. Streeval is an associate with Fifth Street Communication™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.