If you want peace, work for justice.
– Pope Paul VI
Justice and Witness Ministries
In the United Church of Christ, we do justice. We started in the 60’s with the Civil Rights movement. We’ve been advocating for gay rights since the 70’s. We took on environmental racism in the 80’s. And in 2005, we were the first church in America to endorse marriage equality. We’re doing justice. Join us.
Wayside UCC supports Justice and Witness Ministries through our contributions to Our Church’s Wider Mission and Neighbors in Need.
We are called to this work as instruments of God for the integrity of creation, justice and peace. Some topical issues Justice and Witness staff are working on include human trafficking, the privatization of public institutions, climate change, immigration, and the economic crisis. Justice and Witness Ministries has education centers across the nation where people can be immersed in an issue, even transformed by experience, which may result in a change of personal and communal behavior on departing. One of these is located in the Pacific Northwest – the Environmental Justice Center at Pilgrim Firs Camp and Conference Center, Port Orchard, Washington.
Environmental Justice Center at Pilgrim Firs
The UCC Center for Environmental Justice at Pilgrim Firs in Port Orchard, WA, is a place where participants can come from all over the United States – and particularly in the northwest United States – and be immersed in a justice-centered response to climate change and environmental equity.
It features a curriculum designed for diverse participants to take what they learn and return to their home communities and communicate five core themes of environmental justice based on biblical and ethical principles: gratitude, humility, justice, responsibility and community.
As with all of the UCC’s Centers for Education and Social Transformation, which are projects of the UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries, the curriculum at Pilgrim Firs is biblically based and centered on the deep issues of justice and the beloved community. It involves the learner in study, reflection, discussion, and hands-on learning opportunities. The curriculum also is tailored for weekly, weekend, and single-day learning opportunities.
Pilgrim Firs inspires an openness of thought and a commitment of energy to work for the health of God’s Creation as participants become allies and leaders in their communities.
Justice and Witness Ministries’ central purpose is to enable and encourage engagement in God’s global mission via direct action against systemic injustice. This can be achieved through community mobilization, leadership training, issues education, public witness and public policy advocacy.
Wayside contributes to the support of Pilgrim Firs with financial contribution to the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ (PNCUCC) – and by offering “camperships” to Wayside families.
Wayside offers the sacrament of marriage to same-sex couples.
In the spring of 2012, when the debate about marriage equality was raging, our congregation took steps to make our position clear. At our annual meeting in May, our pastor asked the support of the congregation in making explicit our policy for the blessing unions of same-sex couples, and our intention of support for same-sex weddings when they became legal. The vote in favor of this statement of wedding policy was unanimous.
The following statement was added to Wayside’s wedding policy:
In accordance with our standing as an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ, the Church Council of Wayside UCC affirms our policy of being open to the weddings of same sex couples, if and when the State of Washington adopts a law to make this legal. The clergy of Wayside will be encouraged to officiate same sex weddings, following Wayside’s wedding policies.
Wayside’s first same-sex marriage (and the first in Federal Way) was celebrated December 15, 2012, soon after same-sex marriage was enacted by the voters. The celebration honored two Wayside members who had been partners for 38 years. They had been looking forward to the event for a long time – and so had Wayside.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that same-sex couples were constitutionally accorded to the same recognition as opposite-sex couples, allowing for marriage equality at a federal level. Wayside is proud to have supported and fought for this cause throughout the decades.
Faith Action Network
Faith Action Network (FAN) is a Washington state-wide interfaith advocacy 501(c)3 non-profit organization through which thousands of people and 60 congregations across Washington State partner for the common good. Together, we are a powerful voice of the faithful building a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world.
Wayside UCC is a member of the Faith Action Network.