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Peace and Justice at Our Doorstep

April 11, 2013

By Joe Jantze

On February 18, 2012, Charles Osgood, of the Osgood Files, stated there are approximately 7 billion people alive today. According to Osgood, 101 billion people have lived in the past. This is difficult for the human mind to comprehend.

The February 26, 2012 worship theme was the renouncement of violence as a way of “solving” the problem of sin. Despite our failures, God encourages us to follow in the way of peace. The assurance of pardon that Sunday read, “The Lord does not remember the sins of our youth, nor the transgressions of our old age, but, in steadfast love, God remembers us. Let us follow in the footsteps of Jesus, confident that the words he heard are also for us: “This is my beloved; in you I am well pleased!”

This covenant has been made with billions of people throughout the ages! Remembering another recent sermon (February 11, 2012), Pastor Tim stated that it is important to die in the fullness of God’s love, as opposed to Solomon, for example, who was unable to experience the fullness of God’s love by the end of his days, due to his own greed and other issues.

We live in difficult times. Social, political, cultural and economic issues affect personal finances. An article in the Pantagraph pointed out the problem of homeless high school students in Livingston, McLean and DeWitt counties. Congress is at an all-time low approval rating of approximately six percent. The only way to make our political system honest is through campaign finance reform via public financing, thus causing self-interest groups to lose their influence.

An eleven-part Christian Education series, called Peace and Justice Issues at Our Doorstep, coordinated by your Peace and Justice Committee, concluded recently.

JESUS HOUSE – Tom Lentz described this ministry, which includes worship opportunities for the less fortunate. He told about Bill, who came to Jesus through the movement of the Holy Spirit during such a service. The Jesus House also provides a safe place for Westside children to gather during the summer. Tom and his wife Bonnie learned about Christ as adults, by reading the red print in a Bible. Tom has a fresh perspective on Christianity. Jesus House also has food pantry and clothing distribution center.

IMMANUEL HEALTH CENTER – A faith-based health clinic, located on the Westside of Bloomington, should help to alleviate the problems of our failing medical system, which is leaving more than 47 million Americans without health care. Dr. Trina Scott is the director.

JOY CARE CENTER – Based on his own personal experiences, Bill Hertter has a passion for helping ex-felons integrate back into society. He has a working relationship with McDonald’s, and further aids his clients with spiritual mentoring.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – Town of Normal Police Officer Amanda Street presented alarming statistics on the prevalence of domestic violence in our community, and the difficulties presented by the various cultural backgrounds of our residents.

IMMIGRATION ISSUES – Saulo Padillo, of Mennonite Central Committee, presented the complexities of our failing immigration system. There are approximately 11 million illegal immigrants present in the United States today. There simply was not enough time during the class to delve into this issue fully.

PRAIRIE STATE LEGAL SERVICES – Attorney Adrian Barr told us how PSLS provides individuals and families with limited financial means, and those over age 60, with civil domestic legal assistance. This helps to alleviate some of the problems Officer Street talked about in her presentation on domestic violence. PCLS offers legal assistance in civil cases in these areas: family law, housing law, health care and other needs-based government assistance.

MARC FIRST / CENTER FOR HUMAN SERVICES – These organizations provide social services for the mentally ill and developmentally challenged. Some local businesses hire disabled individuals through Marc First. Rick Glass and Tom Barr shared about the impact of ongoing state cuts to these programs.

SOCIAL IMPACTS OF URBAN PLANNING – Mercy Davison, Town of Normal Planner, was our guest for this presentation. Little emphasis has been given to low income housing. The location of Normal Community High School is a detriment to students involved in extracurricular activities, as the only means of transportation to this location is a school bus or private vehicle. Bloomington-Normal does have a functional public transportation system in place; the Constitution Trail is a wonderful addition to the community.

CHESTNUT HEALTH CENTER – Alan Markwood works with prevention research, a vital aspect of alcohol and drug abuse prevention. Children should be encouraged from an early age to get involved with appropriate peer groups; once addiction has begun, it is very difficult to achieve a “cure.” Of the clients who enter treatment at Chestnut, there is only a 10 percent success rate. Prevention is THE key.

CLARE HOUSE – Tina Sipula told us there are eight food distribution centers in Bloomington-Normal. Clare House is the only one that does not require paperwork in order to receive food. They distribute bags of staples twice weekly, and provide two weekly lunches at St. Mary’s.

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY – Kristen Sand explained how this organization works against substandard housing and homelessness. Their success rate is high. Only two of 137 homes built locally have been foreclosed on. Habitat also works with house rehabilitation.

The leaders of the above-mentioned organizations have something in common. They are trained professionals, who have compassion for those in need of their services. We, in turn, should be prayerfully aware of the needs around us and help where we are able.

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Writings and sharings from the Peace and Justice Committee of the Mennonite Church of Normal, IL.

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Writings and sharings from the Peace and Justice Committee of the Mennonite Church of Normal, IL.

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