The Public Witness Team (PWT) supports the ministry of the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana (NT-NL) Synod of the ELCA in its effort to address issues of peace and justice.
The team was established as part of the DiscipleLife initiative for Sowing and Growing Disciples of Jesus, which began at the 2007 NT-NL Mission (Synod) Assembly.
At that Assembly, the Synod Council adopted a strategic plan that included six goals, each of which were to be pursued by a team of volunteers. The PWT evolved from the group carrying out Goal C: to “sow disciples by giving public witness to peace and justice.”
The founding charter for the Public Witness Team included three priorities:
- Priority 1: Assist congregations in their efforts to be public church within their communities by developing networks that connect people of similar interests for peace and justice.
- Priority 2: Engage 100% of our congregations in an earnest annual response to the World Hunger Appeal by the end of 2008.
- Priority 3: Focus annually on a selected social issue for our synod’s study and action beginning in 2008.
In our earliest discussions, we explored many topics that deserve the attention of thoughtful disciples. Some of the most pressing issues related to social suffering and inequities (e.g., the need for criminal justice reform and immigration reform; responsible care for the unemployed, homeless, and hungry in America) were driven — at least in part — by institutionalized racism. We did not feel at the time that we were adequately equipped to help ourselves face such a socially sensitive (and for some, off-putting) topic.
In early 2015, the PWT held a one-day retreat to define our missional foci for the next two years. The retreat was led by Pr. Deb McCann. Three emphases were affirmed:
- Confronting Racism: There was a strong consensus that the team must continue to address institutionalized racism and the injustices that result from it. A significant majority of the team members are committed to this.
- Environmental Stewardship: There was consensus around addressing issues related to care for the earth.
- Anti-poverty Training: The team affirmed the great potential of the Congregation-Initiated Community-Based Advocacy (CICBA) program that is being implemented by the Southwestern Texas Synod (SWT). The team was visited by representatives of the SWT Synod in late 2014 and accepted an invitation to participate in training that is being provided to interested congregations there. If we can find adequate funding, the team believes this approach to equipping and mobilizing congregations for relief and justice advocacy is promising.
To find out more about the work of the PWT, please visit the links below: