(Jacqueline Murekatete, is an internationally recognized human rights lawyer, a Rwanda genocide survivor, and the Adventist Peace Fellowship coordinator at the Church of the Advent Hope in New York City, which is one of five Adventist congregations that have passed official motions to become certified peace churches. She shares some of the recent and ongoing actions for peace and social justice that church members at Advent Hope are involved with.)
Based in the middle of New York City, Church of the Advent Hope (which has passed an official resolution to become a certified Adventist Peace Church) is uniquely positioned to make a positive impact in our local and global community. Year after year, our members have engaged in various social justice and peace initiatives with the aim of sharing the gospel and God’s love not just through words, but action.
Through our Meals on Heels ministry as well as our partnership with God's Love We Deliver, members of our church frequently cook and deliver nutritious meals to many of our homebound neighbors, which also often provides an opportunity to share God’s words of encouragement.
Our annual commemoration of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda is an occasion to remember the millions of men and women who have lost their lives to war and genocide in recent times, and to discuss the dangers of racism, hate, state sanctioned discrimination and the type of intolerance which enables genocide to take place. It is also an opportunity to recommit ourselves to peaceful co-existence with all of our neighbors irrespective of their race, religion or ethnicity.
Through our annual holiday benefit concert, we have raised awareness and funds to address many local and global crises as they appeared, such as the Haiti earthquake, the heavy floods in the Philippines, and Hurricane Sandy in USA. This past December we raised more than $11,000 for an Adventist hospital struggling to stay open amidst the Ebola crisis in Liberia.
As part of World AIDS Day on December 1st, and building on our annual participation in New York AIDS Walk, Church of the Advent Hope held an educational workshop where an Adventist physician and a social worker who work with those living with HIV/AIDS spoke about the complicated social and economic inequalities that often lead to the spread and inadequate treatment of this illness. They also discussed the need for church members to be less judgmental and show more of God’s love to those living with HIV/AIDS.
As we were confronted with the tragic deaths of Michael Brown in Missouri, Tamir Rice in Ohio, and the death of Eric Garner which took place in our own New York City backyard, Church of Advent Hope also stood up with those calling for racial justice and better police-community relations by holding a conversation about the role of the Adventist church in promoting racial, economic and social justice.
In the coming months, we plan to hold additional social justice and peace programs, including a program during the Adventist Peace Fellowship Sabbath on May 23rd, as well as an event surrounding the United Nations International Day of Peace, which takes place annually on September 21st.
Church of the Advent Hope is honored to be part of the Adventist Peace Fellowship network. We look forward to working with fellow Adventist Peace Churches as we strive to promote peace and justice for all and to answer Jesus’ call to love our neighbor as ourselves, not just through words but also through actions.