Charity and Justice

Charity and Justice

Yesterday, the leadership team of New Hope Free Methodist church was visited by Dr. Elaine Spaull. Dr. Spaull is the city councilperson for the eastern distric of the city of Rochester. Many of you who regularly read this blog know that I am not the one to embrace politicians as means to producing significant community and cultural change. Its not that politicians are corrupt or evil, but simply that many of them are inefficient vehicles of change.

In light of what I just said, I was amazed as well as deeply moved and highly motivated after our visit with Dr. Spaull. Dr. Spaull has given up successful legal and academic careers in order to head the non-profit Center for Youth ( that is devoted to identifying and developing struggling and troubled young adults in the Rochester/Monroe County area. Last year, they helped over 22,000 young adults and gave shelter to over 1000 homeless teens. This is an agency that is making a difference in the Rochester community.

However, there is one comment that she made during her visit that was so profound and consistent with the ministry of Jesus, that it very well may change the way our leadership engages in community ministry. Dr. Spaull defined "charity" as doing that which is "good" She then defined "justice" as doing that which is "right". When we see our helping of troubled people as charity, then we are free to stop it at any time. It is an option that is not owed or obligated. However, if we consider our helping of troubled people as an act of justice (making things right), then this carries an obligatory tone. Charity is a "should", while justice is a "must".

When we see homeless children, abused women, mentally impaired men, exploited prostitutes, thieving gangs, undereducated pupils, and so on, filling our streets with the resultant violence, perpeteual exploitation, and subtle nihilism that results, we dare not consider our interventions as charity. While it is good, it is also right and deserves a sense of urgency and sacrifice that is commanded in the face of injustice.

I want to challenge you to join the movement to do the "right" thing in serving those who marginalized, broken, and suffering. As Dr Spaull said, it is not a question of charity, but of responding to injustice around us.

I thank God for Dr. Spaull's reminder and for her willingness to truly demonstrate civil service.

Let me know what you think,


Pastor M Traylor