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human relations day
Human Relations Day Podcast with Jay Campbell
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Episode Highlights

00:21 // Rich welcome Jay to the show.

00:41 // Jay talks about his current role at Clinton UMC.

01:42 // Jay talks about the work UMC is doing with victims of domestic violence.

02:28 // Jay talks about the work UMC is doing to help homeless families transition to sustainable living.

03:39 // Jay talks about John Wesley’s identity and how that still carries with the Methodist Church today.

04:46 // Jay tells us why UMC participates in Human Relations Day and what it means to him and the church.

05:46 // Jay tells us about his work in New Orleans and the Super Bowl to highlight the issue of human trafficking.

07:33 // Jay asks us to continue to hope, believe and trust that God is actively working in all places in the world, inviting us to participate.

Episode Transcript

Rich – Well welcome to the Human Relations Day podcast, my name’s Rich the host around these parts. Thanks so much for tuning in as we count down to this really important day in our calendar. It’s really a very special Sunday in the life of our church. Today it’s our privilege to have Jay Campbell with us. Jay is from Clinton, New Jersey. Nice to have another guy from New Jersey on the line. Jay, welcome to the show.

Jay – Thanks for having me, Rich.

Rich – Now why don’t we start with you telling us a little bit about your ministry, what is it that you do? Tell us about your current work.

Jay – Right now at Clinton UMC. I am the Director of Youth/Young Adults Ministries and Missional Witness. The primary part of my job is to focus on the youth ministry and the many aspects that entails and try to continue maintaining and establishing our young adult ministry. Then working as a staff liaison to our Mission Committee to help us continue to move forward. Just kind of understanding mission as something we don’t do occasionally, but to be seen that the missional nature of God is something we embody every day and that’s something that we simply do and at our core that’s who we are. So trying to work and take small steps to moving our entire church to being that representation in the world.

Rich – Very cool. Now why don’t you give us a sense of, maybe some of those missional things you’re engaged in as a church, what’s some of that activity you’re doing?

Jay – So right now I guess a couple of things I’ve been most excited about is that on Tuesday, our church has become a host site for a local non-profit that works a lot with victims of domestic violence. So one of the things we do is just really kind of providing the space for them to, on Tuesdays, have meetings for people that it may be a challenge to get to the main site, so they can offer different host site locations. So we offer that every Tuesday for people to come and meet social workers and to get the help that they need in recovery and hoping those issues don’t happen again.

Recently our church has been voted to become a host site for this non-profit family (unclear 00:02:33) which helps homeless families transition to sustainable living. So usually a group of up to about 14, usually women and their children, kind of go from church to church every week and so this year will be kind of our first time in posting the families for a week in July, so we’re pretty excited about that.

The next step we’re going to be looking at is trying to encourage the church to take a group to Ecumenical Advocacy Days next April in Washington DC to help us begin to see kind of the advocacy part of ministry and justice. So that’s the next step that I’m looking at.

Rich – Interesting. So now there’s churches that are listening in that don’t participate in Human Relations Day. They’re like, “Listen there’s another special day coming, and we’re just going to let this one pass by.” What would you say to them to say, “Hey you should actually get plugged in.” Why should churches and why does your church participate in it?

Jay – Well for me this is such a central part of our faith. Even looking back at John Wesley and the huge emphasis on personal holiness and social holiness and giving much of his life to caring for the poor, for prison reform, the many ways he even reached out to children in poverty and that being such a central part of his identity. I think that still carries with us in the Methodist Church today. We can’t look at the world and say, “This is how God intended it to be,” and as people of faith we really do have a responsibility to make the world a better place. A place where people can live in peace, outside of violence, there’s equal opportunities for people to pursue education, to pursue life out of poverty. Coming together and also helping work towards ending a lot of the ‘isms’ especially such as racism and sexism that are still very prevalent today.

I know there’s often a tendency in the church, sometimes we want to kind of shy away because it’s difficult, maybe controversial. But if these issues really are what so many… at the heart of the issue it’s people facing these realities every day and don’t we want to know what God has to say on this subject? So why wouldn’t we truly really try to wrestle with these in the church to say people face this and what did the lived ministry of Christ show us? So often we skip to the death and resurrection, we kind of neglect the ministry that he lived every day and what that really holds for us.

Rich – Very true, that’s fantastic. A few years ago you were engaged in some work down in New Orleans. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that, what was it that you were doing down there?

Jay – Actually my second year of seminary, I was at Wesley Theological Seminary Washington DC, I interned at the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, and I primarily worked on the issues of human trafficking, especially in its relation to the Super Bowl.

At the time I was there, the Super Bowl was going to be played in New Orleans which many studies have shown that the Super Bowl is the largest event in the US in which human trafficking occurs. So I travelled down to a conference that many local organizations were having about their efforts to highlight the issue of trafficking that was going to be at the Super Bowl and to look for enough community organizing ways to get awareness out. Especially to people who might be trafficked and to provide resources that, if they find themselves in that situation, they can reach out for help. Also partnering with local law enforcement to be on the lookout and to hopefully limit and prevent as much as possible.

So we were just there, kind of assisting the work they were doing and also wanting the Super Bowl to be a central part of the human trafficking work at GBCS at the time and seeing where the next cities would be and how we could continue to learn and build on that.

We also visited a local Methodist Church that had kind of a special house for people I believe had been victims of trafficking and are now on the road to healing and recovery. To just have a safe place to live without the threat of being forced back into that life.

Rich – That’s incredible. Well is there anything else you’d love to share with our listeners who are listening in as we think about Human Relations Day?

Jay – Yeah just even though it’s hard and the work, especially of justice and changing the world, it’s very slow steps and it can be more than often discouraging than encouraging. But I think in the words of Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, never lose hope, never give up hope and believe at the end of the day that God is not finished. Even the gates of death will not prevail against the church and the work that we do.

So continue to hope and believe and trust that God is actively working in all places in the world, inviting us to participate. The world needs people of faith and churches to come alive and catch on to this mission for the Kingdom of God, right here and now.

Rich – Very cool. Well we can finish with a quote from Lord of the Rings, that’s fantastic. That’s always a good day. So thanks so much Jay for being on the show today. If people want to get in touch with you or your church how can they do that?

Jay – You can email me at jay@clintonumcnj.com, or our website is clintonumcnj.com and you can get access to us there and all the buff to follow up any conversations people of interest might have.

Rich – Nice, thanks so much Jay.

Jay – Absolutely, thanks Rich.

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