Christian Action is a new group that started forming at St. Paul in late 2019 to bring attention and change to issues like the climate crisis and the United Methodist Church’s doctrine on gay marriage and ordination. It’s been meeting by Zoom every other Wednesday at 7 p.m. and it welcomes anyone who would like to be a part of its work. The group is made up of about 25 St. Paul members interested in making a difference on social issues. It is still considering long-term activities and how it might be organized. Christian Action group members recognize that there are different perspectives on its priority issues in the Methodist Church as a whole, and at St. Paul.
“The group seeks to live its Christian beliefs by engaging difficult issues in the local community in ways that are effective and inviting.”
The Christian Action Group currently has three main areas of focus:
• the United Methodist Church’s doctrines related to human sexuality, including gay marriage and ordination
• environmental justice issues, such as the climate crisis
• racial justice issues
The Christian Action Group has been discussing how proposals on same-sex marriage and gay ordination in the Methodist Church could affect St. Paul. Christian Action has been studying guidance available from the United Methodist Reconciling Ministries Network, which has a mission statement that reads in part, that it seeks “justice for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.”
In July 2020, the Christian Action Group applied to become and was recognized as a reconciling community within St. Paul UMC by the Reconciling Ministries Network, adopting the following welcoming statement: “The Christian Action Group, a Reconciling Community of St. Paul United Methodist Church of Louisville, KY welcomes and affirms people of every sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, age, immigration and economic status, and ability. We seek to live the credo of the United Methodist Church – Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors. We support marriage equality and full pastoral privileges for all persons regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation.” The reconciling status is specific to the Christian Action Group, not to St. Paul Church as a whole.
To help members of St. Paul begin to engage with this topic, the Christian Action Group held a series of Sunday morning information sessions about the proposals on same-sex marriage and gay ordination scheduled to be considered at the now-postponed Methodist General Conference. You can listen to audio recordings of those sessions here.
A second project was a January 24, 2020 screening of the movie, “Call of the Forest,” about how planting trees can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That event brought close to 200 people from St. Paul and the community to McAdams Hall to hear from Louisville organizations that promote the planting and protection of trees. View a 6-minute video about the event, produced by Rhody Streeter, here.
Since then, Christian Action has been meeting with representatives of the 100% Renewable Energy Alliance of Louisville—100%REAL—about that group’s successful effort in getting the Louisville Metro Council to approve a renewable energy resolution for the City. Christian Action is exploring ways it can support REAL’s next step of making sure that resolution gets implemented. To help speed up that process, REAL has developed a planning document called “Louisville’s Energy Future”; you can read it here. It looks at key parts of the process, among them hiring an energy manager, reducing energy needs by 25% by 2025, evaluating city street lighting, planning large solar installations, establishing an Advisory Council, building community support, and financing green energy. REAL is actively working to facilitate a demonstration project that would provide power to the downtown Library building through solar panels on its roof; and is also seeking ways to establish a Green Bank – to provide financing for solar installations of all sizes.
In March 2021, Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light (KIPL) posted an article about the Christian Action Group’s action for the environment.
A third area of focus that has emerged in light of recent events in Louisville and throughout the US is the issue of racial inequality. In June, Christian Action members, Rev. Brandon, and St. Paul staff discussed possible responses to the racial justice issues and protests in Louisville. Those discussions led to St. Paul church being a sponsor of a June 7 prayer vigil by the Sowers of Justice and Interfaith Paths to Peace groups. Several members of the Christian Action Group and other members of St. Paul attended the vigil held in Central Park.
A class on the “Historical Roots of Racism” is currently being offered every other Wednesday evening by retired history teacher and St. Paul member David Green, via Zoom. Those sessions are being recorded and can be found here. Additional historical resources mentioned during those sessions have been compiled at that page as well, and a Racial Justice Resource List is also available.
If you’d like to be a part of the Christian Action work and discussion, or would just like to receive updates on the group’s activities, contact Paul Wesslund at firstname.lastname@example.org