Years ago, Alison Xamon began to envisage a new kind of ministry. A church community that would be truly welcoming and safe for all. A group that would see the fight for justice as simply part of being Christian.
It was a type of worship that Alison longed for, but over time it became clear that if she really wanted it to happen, she would have to make it happen. So, she did.
Alison’s dream became the Social Justice Church, which has now been gathering for two-and-a-half years. While it wasn’t all smooth sailing, the path was cleared considerably when Rev Craig Collas, former minister of Uniting Church in the City, Wesley Perth offered Wesley as a venue for this new ministry.
“Wesley was a perfect fit for me because being in the middle of the city was ideal and Wesley itself is a welcoming congregation,” Alison says. “I also have a personal connection as my dad was ordained there and my grandfather generations back helped build it.”
Then Alison went to Geoff Bice, Social Justice Consultant at the Uniting Church WA with her idea and together they formed a core team of about 5 or 6 people who were responsible for organising and running the monthly services.
“Since then we’ve had more people join the core team and we’ve effectively consolidated what is now a regular service and regular worshipping congregation that continues to grow,” Alison says.
The congregation is mostly made up of Generation X and Millennials. In fact, Alison, at 51 years old, says she is the oldest person there. But Alison wants to be clear, the demographic of the congregation does not mean Social Justice Church is a rock band, lightshow type of worship service.
“The style of the worship is quite different to what people intuitively assume younger people want,” she says.
The service draws from a Taize style of worship, where candles are used to form a warm atmosphere, encouraging quiet meditation and reflection. It includes traditional liturgies, hymns and benedictions, not unlike a typical Uniting Church service.
Where Social Justice Church differs slightly is in its staunch position as an all-inclusive congregation. It’s expected that members and visitors respect that the service is a safe place for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or life circumstance. And as the name suggests, the congregation focuses on issues of social justice.
“The core of the sermons promote the praxis of the gospel, that is, the idea that we can’t just turn-up to church once-a-month, but must actively fight for justice everyday,” Alison says. “We encourage people to reflect on what we are called to do as Christians in terms of how we work towards care for others and care for the earth.”
Social Justice Church is held on the second Sunday of each month, 6.00pm, at Uniting Church in the City, Wesley Perth.
Top image: A climate change rally gathered outside Uniting Church in the City, Wesley Perth, supported by Social Justice Church.