Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice (“Unbound”) is an online journal and community that examines, expresses, and encourages commitments social justice as inspired by the prophetic gospel of Jesus Christ. As both a journal and a forum for conversation, action and community building, Unbound is at once the inheritor of the print journal Church & Society (98 years running) and the innovator of an interactive approach to supporting social ministry. We are not solely a journal, nor solely another website or news outlet.
By making the journal freely available on the internet, we seek to attract a great diversity of readership in the “World House,” beyond the Presbyterian, ecumenical and Christian houses that are our base. This means broadening while affirming the long-time mission statement:

“to provide a forum for the church on subjects of social concern for Christians. It includes reflective comment on social issues, models and resources for individual and group study and action, and articles to encourage dialogue among persons with religious commitment. Articles represent the opinion of the authors.”[1]

Broadening the discussion online means adding options for any reader (over the age of 13) to join in critical yet respectful dialogue, necessarily protected against a wide range of potential misuses.

Unbound remains a journal. Four to six times a year, Unbound issues a theme-based collection of well-crafted and thought-provoking articles written by academics, clergy, lay leaders, and practitioners of all kinds. These articles are subject to editing by an editorial team of staff and guest editors. Furthermore, upon request of the author, articles may be subject to peer review – and will be identified as such. These journal issues constitute an intentional and focused examination of pressing justice matters, conversing with, even critiquing, the policies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the larger church.

Unbound is also a community, adding internet dimensions to the longtime Church & Society forum. In between journal issues, Unbound is alive with action alerts, discussion pieces, comments, news, blogs, multimedia, art, an events calendar, organizing tools for local and national movements, all related to justice, social witness and ministry. Reader-participants, over the age of 13, (for the purposes of collective ownership, relevance, and free exchange) are invited to start conversations, interact with other users, and submit art and alternative forms of expression, related to immediate matters of conscience and solidarity and to the themes of current and upcoming journal issues.

By providing such an interactive journal, we seek to unite content with community, analysis with action, mission with worship, scholarship with broad readership, and social media with organizing efforts. Through Unbound, we encourage communities and individuals to come together for timely, provocative social thought and action for justice.

Unbound is published by the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (“ACSWP”) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). ACSWP’s members are elected by the General Assembly to develop, interpret, and monitor policies that encourage and challenge church and society to reflect and act in faithful response to God’s call to do justice.[2] The editorial team’s primary accountability is to ACSWP as it encourages listening and dialogue across the Church and outside it. Working particularly with the Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministries area of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, Unbound is thus guided by the policies of the Church but open to sometimes-controversial new ideas, challenges, and matters of self-critique. As in the previous Church & Society, editorial integrity requires careful discernment and freedom of judgment. The editorial team and its guest editors (formerly, content editors) are also advised by a board of advisors drawn from congregational leadership, colleges and seminaries, and General Assembly agency staff.

Unbound thus operates with the following the objectives:

  1. To strengthen the Christian conscience of readers as they seek to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.
  2. To be a forum for thoughtful conversation open to all (over the age of 13) concerned with justice, inside and outside the church, with particular effort to include “the voices of those long silenced.”
  3. To provide resources to communities, congregations, and organizations dealing with mission, ethics, public theology, and social witness.
  4. To empower and provide a vehicle for collective action based on the online exchange of strategies and the formation of relationships that extend beyond the virtual world.
  5. To help connect ministries (be they on the college campus, in the prison, the social service agency, in urban, suburban or rural communities and elsewhere) with each other and with the most current strategies and struggles of the larger church.
  6. To share ideas and programs from the Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministry area, the Church’s conference centers and specialized public witness programs of the Washington and United Nations offices.

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[1] Original print Church & Society mission statement.

[2] Mission Statement of the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) approved at its meeting on October 24-27, 2002 in El Paso, Texas.