Social Justice

The purpose of Benson’s Memorial’s Work Area for Church and Society is to raise awareness of issues of justice and peace within our society and how we as a Christian community are called to social service, social education, social witness and social action in our local community, our state, our nation and the world. Our focus is on long-term, root causes of social injustice and suffering while we also work closely with the Work Area on Missions to identify and meet immediate needs through acts of mercy. We affirm our church’s longstanding commitment to these acts of mercy, which can produce immediate, tangible results. But we also affirm that we are called by Christ to confront the societal causes of injustice and suffering in our world.

 

Biblical Basis for Peace and Justice

And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." –Micah 6.8

“…Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison and did nothing for you?” And he will answer, “I tell you this: anything you did not do for one of these, however humble, you did not do for me.” –Matthew 25.44-46


Enlarging the Circle Reconciling Community

The Benson Memorial Enlarging the Circle Reconciling Community is dedicated to living with open hearts, open minds, and open doors. We recognize that all persons are created in the image of God, loved by God, and reconciled to God through Christ. We also believe that, in the words of John Wesley, “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?” In that light, we are committed to welcoming, affirming, embracing, and including as part of our faith community all children of God—regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, race, sex, ability, ethnicity, national origin, culture, education, faith tradition, or family, marital or socioeconomic status—treating all equally and with dignity.

 

As members of Enlarging the Circle, we are pledged to:

  • Connect and engage with people of different perspectives and walks of life, especially those who have faced and may face discrimination;
  • Accompany and support people of different perspectives and walks of life at church or other events to affirm all people’s worth and to provide safe haven;
  • Advocate with others who may not understand or accept different perspectives;
  • Amplify all people’s concerns and needs and help make all voices heard;
  • Impede efforts to discriminate; and
  • Celebrate all and rejoice with all.

Areas of Focus

Environment

Benson Memorial has been taking steps to worship and serve in more sustainable ways in accordance with our call to care for God’s creation.

  • We participate with the Interfaith Creation Care Team, a multi-faith group dedicated to caring for the world we all share.
  • We are conducting ongoing investigation of implementing solar panels at our church to reduce our environmental impact.

Racial Justice

We stand in solidarity with our siblings of color and provide opportunities to learn more about and act against the racial injustices present within our society.

  • We have participated in demonstrations in conjunction with other congregations to voice our dissent against racist structures and practices.
  • Our Living Our Faith series regularly covers topics linked with racial justice such as food insecurity, public defense, and prisoner re-entry.
  • Our Social Justice Book Study has spent time discussing books on this subject, including How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

LGBTQ+ Engagement

Benson Memorial welcomes all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, race, sex, ability, ethnicity, national origin, culture, education, faith tradition, or family, marital or socioeconomic status, treating all equally and with dignity.

  • Benson’s Enlarging the Circle group is registered with the Reconciling Ministries Network. We strive to promote acceptance and inclusion and create a welcoming environment for both current and prospective members in the LGBTQ+ community.
  • The church has posted signs at the parking lot and Narthex entrances that announce our welcoming intent by stating that we love our neighbors, regardless of how they think, love, look, or pray and exhorting everyone to love neighbors with no exceptions.
  • The Social Justice Book Study has discussed Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian as well as Megan Scott Roper’s Unfollow.

Criminal Justice

Following the biblical call to remember those in prison, we recognize the inequities inherent in the criminal justice system and the challenges that those entangled in it face.

  • We have highlighted this issue as part of the Living Our Faith series, including presentations about indigent defense and mass incarceration.
  • Our Social Justice Book Study began by reading Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow.
  • We invited William Elmore, a previously justice-involved person who founded the reentry group Wounded Healers, and Daniel Bowes, formerly of the NC Justice Center’s Second Chance project, to speak with us in a small group.

Poverty

God calls us to care for the poor, and to do that we must see them and understand their issues.

  • Benson Memorial engages with many missions that address poverty, such as Family Promise, North Raleigh Ministry, and Step Up Ministry.
  • We have spotlighted this issue in our Living Our Faith series, with presentations about homelessness, the work of the Raleigh Rescue Mission, and other related topics.

Voting rights

We believe that full participation in society without hierarchical boundaries is in line with Christian teaching, and voting is a critical part of that participation.

  • An early Living Our Faith session comprised a panel discussing voting in the state.
  • Members of the Social Justice Book Study watched a documentary about voter suppression in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election and engaged potential voters through an organization called Reclaim Our Vote.
  • Our first racial equity demonstration also focused on the importance of voting, and the church has displayed signs encouraging people to vote.

Immigration

The Bible tells us to welcome the stranger, and we are called to carry this out in our present life as immigrants and refugees risk all to find safety and security.

  • We sponsored and signed, along with other congregations and groups, a statement expressing concern about the humanitarian crisis taking place in our country regarding immigrants, refugees, and our own citizens.
  • One of our members has been very involved in this issue, and she shared her experiences in a Living Our Faith presentation.
  • Another Living Our Faith presentation involved having representatives from Lutheran Family Services talk about their work with refugees.

We continually look for ways to promote and to take action on these subjects and other important social justice matters. If you would like to participate with us in any of these areas or would like to share other ways that Benson Memorial can further God’s justice in our world, please reach out to John Reese at reessumey@mindspring.com or Susan Brooks at sebrks@bellsouth.net .