God’s kingdom arrives on earth wherever justice prevails and the Gospel is preached. Wherever one side of God’s kingdom suffers, the other also suffers. If we do not respond to the bodily needs of our neighbor in the world, then we place a stumbling block to their ability to hear the Gospel.
God’s kingdom brings justice in human relations and limits the evil we are able to do to one another. God does this work both through the institutions of human government, and through movements to hold governments accountable to God’s Word of justice.
Sometimes God’s kingdom places pressure on government officials to do the right thing when they are resistant to needed changes. When this happens, God moves the people of church and society to organize for power, and to place pressure on decision makers to get the results that God’s kingdom demands.
The Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality is an interfaith organization of religious communities that works for justice and community life here in Tampa and the surrounding county. They achieve the goals of local justice by organizing for power around a set of local issues that are drawn from the stories of members and researched by member leaders. Their office is located here at St Paul.
The current issues HOPE is organizing around are criminal justice, affordable housing, and elder care. We recently succeeded in persuading county commissioners to allocate $5 million to affordable housing here in Hillsborough, with a commitment to increase this funding to $10 million per year over the course of the next several years.
The central action each year is called a Nehemiah Action, named after the example of the prophet Nehemiah for organizing a crowd to pressure the officials to act justly (5:1-13). Each year, we gather approximately 1,400 people into a single location to get commitments from decision makers on the issues. Mark your calendar for the next Nehemiah Action, which will take place on 1 April 2019, at 6:30pm. To prepare, there will be a rally on 11 March 2019, also at 6:30pm. Locations to be determined.