Lutheran Volunteer Corps, one of my mentors asked me why I had chosen a faith-based organization focusing on social justice, rather than a secular organization. This question caught me completely off guard—I had never considered that my passion for social justice could come from anything but my faith. So many of the Scripture passages that speak to me most deeply are those that call for an end to oppression and injustice, that call for us to care for those who are in need, for those who are rejected and for those who are forgotten. From Jesus to Martin Luther King, Jr. my models of social justice are strongly tied to faith.

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Social Justice as an Extension of Faith

By: Kasey Shultz
April 28, 2017

I found myself surrounded by dozens of other young adults who, like me, see the call to work for social justice as a call that emerges from and is informed by their faith. I finally felt like I could be my whole self ...

This past year as I applied to Lutheran Volunteer Corps, one of my mentors asked me why I had chosen a faith-based organization focusing on social justice, rather than a secular organization. This question caught me completely off guard—I had never considered that my passion for social justice could come from anything but my faith. So many of the Scripture passages that speak to me most deeply are those that call for an end to oppression and injustice, that call for us to care for those who are in need, for those who are rejected and for those who are forgotten. From Jesus to Martin Luther King, Jr., my models of social justice are strongly tied to faith.

But not everyone approaches social justice in this way. There are many people doing incredible social justice work who are not motivated by faith, instead citing a desire to better the world around them, or an inner fire that won’t let them stand idly by while injustice exists in the world. In my eyes, they have a call to do this justice work, but they might not use the same language of ‘call’ and ‘vocation,’ instead speaking of ‘passion’ and ‘duty.’

Regardless of why people dedicate their time and energy to social justice work, I am glad they are doing it. However, I realized that I was missing that faith-based perspective in my conversations around social justice with peers in the classroom and with friends at the dinner table. In conversations with my non-religious friends about my post-graduation plans, I tried to explain why it was so important for me to have a faith-based element to my work—how my faith is such an integral part of who I am, it would feel wrong to exclude it from an entire section of my life—but those friends never seemed to fully understand and so my faith started to disappear from those conversations.

This growing disconnect is why it was so refreshing to attend FTE’s Regional Discernment Retreat. I found myself surrounded by dozens of other young adults who, like me, see the call to work for social justice as a call that emerges from and is informed by their faith. I finally felt like I could be my whole self—no longer muting my faith in conversations about my passions and life plans but fully engaging with my faith and the faith of others. Going into the retreat, I had a pretty clear idea of what I felt called to do as an individual, but when I emerged at the end of the weekend, I was hopeful and excited about what the church can do in this struggle for social justice. Because the church that I found at this retreat was a church in which faith compels a focus on social justice—it was a church that, like me, saw social justice as a natural and necessary extension of faith.

And it was beautiful.


Photo: Participants from the 2017 Regional Discernment Retreat in Minneapolis.

Tags: Inspired Leaders, Thinking Out Loud, Shaping the Future


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