we were here last saturday!

(from Sunday’s Boston Globe)

Calling young evangelicals to social justice
Relationships with poor urged

By Roya Wolverson, Globe Correspondent | June 18, 2006

The band was as young and hip as the audience. It was all you’d expect from an urban summer gala — with a twist of holy wonder.

Last Saturday night, the sixth floor of Boston’s Tremont Temple Church was all hands and hips swaying to joyous melodies — and to justice.

Aaron Graham, the 26-year-old pastor of Dorchester’s Quincy Street Missional Church and a leader of the Boston Faith and Justice Network, guided the burgeoning crowd of some 150 people from worship into action at the network’s kickoff event. Graham embodies a local movement of evangelicals looking to mobilize young Christians for social justice outside the limits of partisan politics.

“If I’m going to err on one side, I’d better err on the side of the poor, based on the Bible,” says Graham. “The liberal-conservative division doesn’t really work for our generation.”

“You will not change the world in your spare time with your spare change,” said Bart Campolo, founder and chaplain of Mission Year, a national Christian service program, in his keynote address. “The word we almost never use when we talk about mission [work] is sacrifice.’ ”

Campolo, a charismatic storyteller and speaker, balanced humor with seriousness as he urged the group to go beyond a service mentality.

“As a preacher, I am tired of marketing compassion,” he said, suggesting that service was more than an exercise in personal growth. Graham and Campolo emphasized the need for Christians to have personal relationships with people in need.

“Speak out on behalf of people you love instead of causes you think are important,” said Campolo.

Graham cofounded the new group with Amy Graham, his wife, and Rachel Anderson, a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard Divinity. They have striven to develop a cross-denominational group of Christians in the Boston area to respond to injustice through service, education, and advocacy.

Anderson, the network’s director, hopes that bringing together different area churches will help evangelicals overcome divisive politics. The network’s dual focus — youth education and global poverty — grew out of a series of house meetings across Boston. This summer, the group’s service teams will volunteer with local churches and community groups on neighborhood and youth safety.

“There seems to be a yearning among the younger generation to connect their faith with making a difference in the world beyond giving a handout,” Graham says. “We’re helping churches to build the capacity to couple social justice with the things they’re already doing well.”

The key, he says, is to convince churchgoers to act on the church’s local strength in poor neighborhoods in communities such as Dorchester.

“We’re hoping that out of the service experience, people will make that link to move beyond charity to justice.”

© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.

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