By Linda Bloom
Originally published at umc.org
This week, Jacey Johnson, a United Methodist working on a Master of Divinity degree, will get a taste of what community organizing is all about — from both a theological and practical perspective.
The 24-year-old student at United Methodist Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington is among the participants attending a leadership-training program organized by the Student Christian Movement-USA and its parent body, the World Student Christian Federation-North America. The participants come from the United States, Canada and a few other countries.
While the focus is on promoting social justice in today’s world, Johnson is part of a strong United Methodist connection that dates all the way back to the federation’s founding in 1895. John R. Mott, a U.S. Methodist layman who later won the Nobel Peace Prize, was one of six founders and also served as the federation’s chief executive.
The March 23-26 gathering at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, is the fifth annual such event, said Luciano Kovacs, the North American branch’s regional secretary.
Through this ongoing program, young adults “reflect theologically and biblically as well as social-politically” on the different themes explored by the federation, he explained, and learn how to foster ecumenical dialogue in their own regions.
The various trainings offered through the World Student Christian Federation-North America also are a project of The Advance, the voluntary giving program of The United Methodist Church.
Annie Solis, who lives in the Peruvian Andes, first became involved with the federation and the Student Christian Movement in 2014. A member of the Methodist Church of Peru and its Working Group on Climate Justice, the 33-year-old attended a preparatory meeting in Lima, Peru, for the U.N. climate summit in Paris and later spoke at a training on ecojustice organized by the World Student Christian Federation Latin America and Caribbean region.
In March, Solis was part of a 12-member delegation from all regions of the federation to the 61st U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. The federation holds accreditation at the United Nations.
“Being part of a global delegation allowed me to know more about what the Christian students are doing and facing in their own contexts, either at school, work and faith communities, and their particular challenges regarding gender equality,” she told United Methodist News Service.
Solis finds gender injustice to be a “global burden” even in faith communities. However, she said, “we can take the first step discussing this issue in our communities and inviting our young friends to this conversation promoting a call to action toward healthier relationships and equal participation of men and women of all ages.”