The Long-Awaited Unbound Launches!
On Thursday, October 20, 2011, the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) launched Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice (www.justiceunbound.org) in Denver, Colorado. Unbound is the successor of the much-loved Church & Society, the journal that, for 98 years (including its predecessors), was a prophetic voice in the Presbyterian Church, church classrooms, and households. Continuing that legacy, and breaking new ground, Unbound is an online journal and community that examines, expresses, and provokes social justice as inspired by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Joining ACSWP for the launch were members of the Denver Presbytery, liaisons with the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns and Women’s Concerns, Vernon Broyles, Representative for Public Witness in the Office of General Assembly, and Sara Lisherness, Director of the Office of Compassion, Peace, and Justice.
Managing Editor, Patrick David Heery, along with Editor and ACSWP Coordinator, the Rev. Dr. Christian Iosso, presented to a rapt audience the website, the journal’s inaugural issue, and the interactive, community features of Unbound. Two editorials describe further the purpose and nature of Unbound: “Who Are We, & Why Now?” and “Binding Wounds, Unbinding Chains.” Furthermore, Noelle Damico’s article, “Becoming Unbound,” explains her thoughts behind the name that was her creation: “Unbound.”
Following the presentation, the group gathered over food to discuss in small groups the impact of the economic crisis on their churches, ministries, and families. The group heard about a church having to shut down the food pantry upon which hundreds had depended; models of community drawn from Zimbabwe; church budgets drastically reduced; pastors accepting salary decreases so that the church janitor might have enough money to feed his or her family; and hope that the church will come together around new priorities and solidarity.
The next day, members of the Plains and Peaks Presbytery of Colorado joined ACSWP, most coming from communities beset by extreme rural poverty, grinding foreclosures, water shortage, and hunger. ACSWP listened to a woman talk about whole counties without hospitals, homeless shelters, or basic services. ACSWP also heard about churches holding together entire communities and about the opening of a food pantry that feeds hundreds. But ultimately, many folks, it was said, were just too busy trying to help others survive—or simply trying to survive themselves—even to begin the advocacy work that addresses deeper systemic causes.
These stories of isolation and desperation roused ACSWP to make Unbound a medium for linking communities, pooling energies, sharing ideas and experiences, precisely so that no church, no family, no individual, will be alone in the experience of injustice and suffering.
The Dark Night of the American Economy
Unbound invites you to join the conversation about economic suffering and justice in its first journal issue called “The Dark Night of the American Economy.” With economic analysis, a personal “talking corner,” theological reflection, practical resources, action-steps, and articles that re-envision “economy,” Unbound presents a Christian witness to the hard times that have hit so many Americans—and which have been a reality for millions across this planet long before the American “economic crisis” of 2008.
Unbound invites you to be more than readers. Become active participants and co-creators of Unbound by registering for free as a user, commenting on posts, sharing your ideas in the discussion forums, and contributing your voice through posts, art, music, poetry, videos, and more. Register today!
The Work of ACSWP Continues
In addition, ACSWP considered a range of other matters, including: the areas to be covered in its regular Human Rights Update, an analysis of workers’ rights in the United States, a globalization study guide, the scope of recommendations for an economic crisis study authorized by last year’s General Assembly, and the outline of a resolution on the implications of the “Arab Awakening.” This last will be coordinated with the report of the Peace Discernment Steering Team which is preparing resources for the broader church to apply Jesus’ call to peacemaking in our new context.