By Nathanael Hofstetter Ressler
Note: This year Grace & Groundings, Ohio Conference’s racial reconciliation resource team, invited Ohio Conference churches to set aside Sunday, June 18, as Social Justice Sunday. The Grace & Groundings team provided worship planning resources for Social Justice Sunday. Below, Nathanael Hofstetter Ressler, pastor of Maple Grove Mennonite Church in Hartville, reflects on his congregation’s experience on Social Justice Sunday.
Our service followed one of the suggested themes: “Centered on Shalom, Working Out in Love.” The focus statement for our worship planning was this: Center the holy quest for God’s full-orbed peace and justice with the confession of love for self, for the other, and for our shared community.
Acknowledgement was made of Juneteenth and World Refugee Day with some context given for each.
The sermon honed in on Osheta Moore’s emphasis on belovedness as the starting point for any type of justice work that seeks to move toward God’s Shalom. We have to see ourselves as beloved and proclaim the belovedness of others so that all of us might experience the Beloved Community.
The Sunday did feel a little crowded with it being on Father’s Day, and folks wanted to have it included in parts of the service. However, it did offer some differing angles in the conversation of belovedness throughout the service.
As a pastor I really appreciated the resources that were provided! They were a helpful balance between focused and broad; this made it easy to plan a worship service around them.
The congregation seemed to be very receptive to the message and appreciated the service as a whole. A number of persons shared that the starting place Osheta provided helped them not feel as powerless or hopeless in facing the challenges of discrimination, injustice, and racism we navigate in our current context.
Note: While the Grace & Groundings team suggested June 18 as an appropriate time to celebrate Social Justice Sunday, the worship planning materials they created can be used on any Sunday. To see these materials, including information about Osheta Moore, the author and speaker referred to in this reflection, go to https://bit.ly/2023SocialJusticeSundayResources.