About the Ministry of Public Witness
Through the Public Witness Ministry of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches we…
- empower people of faith, through education and skill-building, to make a difference for the common good in the public square;
- advocate on behalf of the Council’s member church bodies before Pennsylvania’s legislative and administrative branches of government.
Please join us in helping to build a more just society!
Public Witness is one of several ministries of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches. To learn more about the Council, visit the main website at www.pachurches.org.
About the Pennsylvania Council of Churches
The Pennsylvania Council of Churches comprises 43 church bodies and agencies representing 20 Anabaptist, Anglican, Orthodox, Pentecostal, and Protestant communions in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania working together for Christian unity for the sake of the world. For more information about the Council and its mission, see “Who we are…”
Please Support Our Ministry
Support for the Council’s Public Witness Ministry is always welcome! Go to our online support page to make a contribution.
Why We Do Advocacy
When Jesus was asked to state the greatest commandment, he replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart … And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In this complex age, one way we love our neighbors is to help shape the laws and policies that define how we live together in God’s world.
–From the Home Page of the PC(USA) Washington Office (www.pcusa.org/washington).
God calls us to be full participants in civil society. This is not new to 21st Century society—we find its roots in ancient Israel.
There are numerous calls for justice throughout scripture, particularly with respect to “widows and orphans”—the most vulnerable in ancient societies. The prophets of Israel cry out for justice for vulnerable persons. Isaiah’s words, in 1:17, are representative: “…seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” In his New Testament letter, James said, “If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has not works, is dead” (James 2:15-17).
Proverbs 31:8-9 provides an early call to advocacy: “Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Early Reformers took this to heart. Martin Luther “wrote over one thousand letters to civil authorities, including letters regarding their public policies; fervently admonished preachers to preach against economic injustice and against economic practices and public policies that thwarted the well-being of the poor…and insisted that if civil authorities call Christians to actions that disobey God, then Christians must resist” (Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, in Public Church: For the Life of the World, p. 42).
The Pennsylvania Council of Churches has taken this call to heart as well. Through the public advocacy ministry, the Council strives to: (1) empower people of faith, through education and skill-building, to make a difference for the common good in the public square; and (2) advocate on behalf of the Council’s member church bodies before Pennsylvania’s legislative and administrative branches of government.
When we advocate for justice, we translate the church’s deep convictions about justice, peace and freedom from words into reality. Through our advocacy efforts, we can discover a whole new way to share God’s love in the world!