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Nine functions to guide recruitment, training of Jubilee Ministry leaders

September 13, 2010

Chris Johnson is thinking like a baseball manager these days: He’s got nine positions to fill, and each one is played just a little bit differently, drawing on different skills.


They’re the nine functions of Jubilee Ministry, as specified in the 1982 resolution of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church that created Jubilee Ministry. And Johnson, Social and Economic Justice Office for the Episcopal Church – and National Jubilee Officer – sees them as the growth areas around which all those engaged in some form of Jubilee Ministry, will rally.


Johnson recently discussed his plans to begin emphasizing the nine functions of Jubilee Ministry, and what he hopes that will mean to Diocesan Jubilee Officers, Jubilee volunteers and others associated with Jubilee Ministry.


Q: What ARE those nine functions?

 When delegates to the 1982 General Convention approved Resolution 1982-A080, creating Jubilee Ministries, they identified nine functions that this new ministry would be charged with carrying out. That includes:

1. Consciousness raising, to help people understand the facts of poverty and injustice.

2. Locating congregations and ecumenical clusters that are engaged in mission and ministry among the poor and designating them as Jubilee Centers.

3. Training clergy, seminarians and lay volunteers in the work of Jubilee Ministry.

4. Identifying people with gifts and skills and matching these human resources with Jubilee Centers that could use them.

5. Researching and evaluating Jubilee Centers, selecting some as models and communicating their work and methods to others.

6. Publishing a quarterly journal and occasional papers and books touching on Jubilee Ministry-related topics.

7. Networking with other organizations to promote justice-oriented public policies.

8. Evangelism and congregational development, particularly formation of congregations of color.

9. Making Jubilee Ministry grants.


When DJOs met in Iowa last spring, we spent a lot of time looking at these nine functions to see which ones are still important to us, and which ones may have grown a little dated. The consensus was that while the details of some of them have changed over the years, all the functions still guide Jubilee activities.


I want to start holding up these nine functions of Jubilee Ministry in front of our church. And here’s the take-away: I want people to know that Jubilee Ministry is not a one-dimensional expression of how we connect our faith with our works. My hope for us is to examine each of those nine areas and to find ways to contribute to the development of our capacity within each area.


Q: What would that look like?

Instead of being focused on provinces, we’ll be focused on priorities. For some people, their energy will grow out of being able to identify and engage themselves around Function Number One, consciousness-raising, because that’s where their call is. Others may find their preferred work is telling our story through education or publications.


So leadership throughout the Jubilee Ministry network would be centered around priorities of common interest rather than being constrained by where people physically are located, which is what the provincial model really presses the church to do. It’s not that we won’t have the opportunity to gather on a local or regional basis. But where we put our energy will be based on our natural passions.


Q: What are you hoping will happen?

If people read the descriptions of each, I’m hoping some will see themselves in one of those nine function areas, and they’ll pick up the phone and reach out to their local DJO or me in the church center office, and they’ll let us know they would love to participate, and ask how they can.


How can we open the door to them to share their giftedness in the larger church community? We’ll plug them in to others who share the passion so they can see where it goes. That way, they can shape our work. We’ll be fishing in a bigger pond.


If we build capacity in these nine areas, it will allow us to be much more effective in deploying resources. It will let us capture more strategically and comprehensively the face of the church at work.


Q: Can you share some concrete examples? 

For example, we don’t need to network for public policy from the standpoint of creating an Episcopal Public Policy Network, because it already exists. But how do we promote EPPN broadly throughout our Jubilee Ministry network? How do we create a vehicle to allow state-based public policy networks share their common experiences with each other? That’s a very specific conversation. It’s not about trying to explain why Jubilee Ministry exists or how to teach Jubilee better. It’s about how to do advocacy around public policy more effectively, and we can create training opportunities that just make more sense.


So I’m interested in getting training and resources to be more reflective and responsive to the needs of the people in the field rather than simply being convenient for me because it’s what I want to do. This is a call to action so that we can give people who are out in the field a way to connect with the larger church.


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