Social Justice Committee

Social Justice at Maxwell Street

Making a difference in the world.

Social Justice Ministry Network:”Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church has a long record in championing various social justice issues. As a mission oriented congregation, we have addressed many problems which affect our community and the larger society. MSPC’s Social Justice Committee was initiated by the session of the church in early 2013, partially in response to the shooting at the Newtown elementary school. The forming of the SocialJustice Committee was also motivated by a concern for informing our congregation about the various social justice positions taken at the national level of our denomination and the work of the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness in Washington, DC. This office has been operating to promote the, “stewardship of public life,” for all citizens and Christians.

The Social Justice Committee changed its name to the Social Justice Ministry Network to reflect its commitment to the broader needs of the 
community and to being change agents in making our community and society more just and inclusive. The Social Justice Ministry Network addresses the issues of social justice in two ways: enhancing our congregation’s awareness of social justice issues in today’s society and serving as an effective agent for our congregation’s engagement with social justice actions in our community, state and country.

The Social Justice Ministry Network is actively involved with BUILD (Building a United Lexington through Direct Action), the CRC (Community Response Coalition), Begin by Believing, More Light Presbyterians, and various advocacy efforts. Please see the Maxwell Street website for more information.”

LGBTQIA2S+ Inclusion

Maxwell Street is a More Light Church
The Session of Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church voted unanimously to join with other Presbyterian Churches to work for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in our church. Toward that end, the congregation has been fully inclusive in the election of church officers and has elected LGBTQ people each year for the past 10 years. The Session has written and received endorsement from Transylvania Presbytery to send an Authoritative Interpretation and proposed an Amendment to the Church Constitution to allow for weddings of LGBTQ couples in states where such marriages are legal, with the approval of the pastor and Session of each particular church where such a wedding is requested.  The church has also worked with many agencies in the city to help and support the LGBTQ community, including work with AVOL (Aids Volunteers of Lexington) and the annual Pride Festival (by sponsoring a booth at the event).  The Session has also instructed that every committee in the church will have as part of its responsibility, the work toward inclusion in the entire life of the church.

The mission statement of More Light Presbyterians reads:
Following the risen Christ, and seeking to make the Church a true community of hospitality, the mission of More Light Presbyterians is to work for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and in society.
More information can be found on the More Light webpage:

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter to God and to us!
As a community of faith we affirm the inherent dignity and worth of each person, regardless of background, as created and beloved children of God. However, the society in which we live does not accord equal worth to each person. Racism, anti-blackness, and its violent and discriminatory fruit in our society have been well documented.

Throughout its history, the church has been called upon to specifically affirm the dignity of particular persons whose lives are threatened by adversity and societal sin. When systemic racism, implicit bias, and notable incidents of violence put into question whether our society truly values black lives, our congregation believes it is important to affirm the particular dignity, beauty, gifts, and worth of black people. Thus we publicly name that black lives matter.

To God
We proclaim with this banner the theological truth that black lives matter to God. Through it we also prayerfully point to the work that we must do as a church, as individuals, and as a society so that, according to God’s vision, a day will come when every life—already valued and beloved by God—will be equally valued by all of God’s children.

And to Us
This all-embracing love of God is what we seek to proclaim in our world. At Maxwell Street, we celebrate diversity and work for inclusion. We want those who see us but do not know our community—who have never set foot in our building, joined us in worship, or participated in our programing—to know who we are and what we believe and value. We want them to know without a doubt that black lives matter to us.

Our banner signals solidarity with victims of racism, particularly African Americans. It signals that we recognize the systemic race prejudice and institutionalized white supremacy still afflicting our body politic. It acknowledges the validity of the pain and anger that have been expressed in the demonstrations resulting from yet another killing of an unarmed African American by a police officer.
Naming that black lives matter to us is also our public commitment to intensify our congregational work of anti-racism, to recommit ourselves to—as our mission statement says—“ministries of healing, reconciliation, and justice” so that all of God’s children might flourish.

Dismantling Racism

acism is deeply embedded in the life and history of the U.S. Through colonization, slavery and a shameful history of legislative action and judicial pronouncements, our nation created and embraced a system that valued and devalued people based simply on skin color and ethnic identity. People of color were deliberately subjugated for material, political and social advantage. Racism today is the continuing and enduring legacy of this history. There is a growing awareness among Presbyterians that racism is a crisis and must be addressed. The PC(USA) is strongly committed to the struggle for racial justice.

Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church joins in this struggle for racial justice. Racism is the opposite of what God intends for humanity. It is a lie about our fellow human beings, claiming some are less than others. As Christians and as Presbyterians, we believe strongly in the Image of God that lives equally within every human being and in the power of God Incarnate of the human being Jesus Christ, both of which affirm the beloved-ness and value of every human being not in spite of but because of each unique part of who they are. Therefore, we partner with local organizations in advocating for systemic racial justice including the Lexington Fair Housing Council, Kentucky Smart on Crime, the ACLU of KY, the NAACP Lexington-Fayette Branch, Black Soil Life, Kentucky Council of Churches, and B.U.I.L.D. We shape our asks of our local officials around what our partner organizations are asking for and we will show up at community gatherings with these partners in the name of racial equity.

Focus on Immigration

Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church stands against immigration practices that dehumanize migrants and our current immigration system that provides very little path to citizenship. As Christians, we believe we are connected to every human being worldwide by our shared creation and fate. We stand against an America first nationalism that leaves no room to welcome and value people of different nationalities, especially those in need of a safer life with more possibility. This does not diminish our pride in our country because we believe in the abundance of room for culture, people, ideas, and beliefs not in the competition of cultures and peoples. 
We will work to advocate for a more effective immigration system that processes those seeking asylum quickly, provides more possibility for American citizenship to our international neighbors, and meets those crossing our Southern border with safety and hospitality.

We partner with the Maxwell Street Legal Clinic in supporting their work of providing low-cost legal help to immigrants in Lexington, the Community Response Coalition in their work of providing aid to victims and families of immigration arrest, and Kentucky Refugee Ministries in their work of supporting Lexington’s refugee community. We will show up when these partners need advocates, support them with resources to the best of our ability, and pay attention to their asks from officials.

Writing or Calling Officials
When calling or writing to officials, it is best to limit your asks to 1-3. Below is a list of possibilities. Select the ones that mean the most to you when you call or write to your elected officials so that you can speak with the most passion and care.
  • Elimination of border camps/ alternatives to detention
  • A resolution for DACA recipients, including a path to citizenship
  • Increased rights for undocumented citizens: healthcare protection when interacting with law enforcement, identification, voting rights

Safe Gun Practices

Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church stands against gun violence and the glorification of weapons. As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers and to value the holiness of every human life. We believe the pervasiveness of violence within our culture mixes with high rates of anxiety and depression, racism, and other forms of discrimination and systemic issues to cause the high rate of gun deaths in America we have today (100 Americans die each day by gun death). We will work to diminish the number of gun homicides, suicides, and mass shootings not by advocating for the removal of all guns, but for safer gun culture and legislation in America. We partner with the local chapter of Moms Demand Action, showing up when they call rallies and vigils and paying attention to their asks from officials as we shape our asks.
The General Assembly of our denomination (the national governing body) approved and published recommendations in the packet, “Gun Violence, Gospel Values,” concerning gun violence in 2010 that had 16 parts to it (there’s lot of work to do with regulating guns as they are barely regulated and highly integrated into our culture). Number 4 of the recommendations reads:
“That the church liturgies not only call for periodic preaching on gun violence but also contain prayers for the victims and perpetrators of gun violence and confession of our own complicity in the perpetuation and toleration of violence in all its forms in the culture.”

Writing or Calling Officials
A group of Maxwell Streeters are writing to officials after every deadly mass shooting, please join us, and let Rachel ( know if you’d like to be on the email list. Please also write or call whenever you feel called.

When calling or writing to officials, it is best to limit your asks to 1-3. Below is a list of possibilities. Select the ones that mean the most to you when you call or write to your elected officials so that you can speak with the most passion and care.

• Elimination of high capacity magazines
• Elimination of assault weapons
• Cease taking money from NRA
• Red Flag Laws
• Universal Background Checks

Diminishing Wealth Inequality

So, how wealthy are you? (compared to everyone else, of course)
According to Credit Suisse, if you have a net worth of $93,170, you are richer than 90% of the people around the world.  If your net worth is just $4,210, you’re still richer than half the people in the world.

What is your net worth?  It’s the total value of all the assets (bank accounts, stocks, etc.) you own (including your home) less your debt (including your home mortgage).

Of the 5 billion adults in the world in 2017, about 1% of them controlled about 46% of world’s wealth.  The poorest 70% of adults (with net worths of less than $10,000) controlled about 3% of the world’s wealth.  The bottom 50% of the world actually had a net worth of 0. That’s inequality.

Less than 1% of the world’s people control 46% of the world’s wealth.  70% of the world’s people control just about 3% of the world’s wealth.  

So, who is in that top 1% in the world?  It takes a net worth of $871,320 to join the global 1% and 19 million Americans qualify.  The United States is 5% of the world’s population but Americans make up 53% of the top 1%.

What are the causes of global wealth inequality?  In 2017 leading academics in Australia identified: (1) lack of access to education for all women, (2) uneven fostering of free enterprise and innovation; (3) creation of a massive underclass deprived of opportunities; (4) historical processes such as wars, industrialization, colonialism, and global politics.