2015: What Does it Really Mean to be a Doer?

Sixth Sunday in Lent - Palm Sunday

2015: What Does it Really Mean to be a Doer?
In this 1979 photo, Mai Gray (center) and Theressa Hoover (right) greet Lee Tae-young of Ewha University in South Korea.


Faithful God,
As we come to the end of yet another Lenten season, help us continue to walk in humility and righteousness. May this sacred time of repentance and self-reflection not be momentary, but rather may it become our ongoing way of life and consciousness. Strengthen us as we seek your divine will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Make us instruments of your peace. Amen.

Today we pray for The Friendly Center in Toledo, Ohio, and Christie House.


Revisiting Training for Racial and Social Justice

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only…” – James 1:22a

Read James 1.

We have a clear mandate which comes from James in this chapter. He gives great nuggets of wisdom about what it means to be a person who believes and follows the teaching of Christ Jesus. Everything comes from the assurance that though trials and temptations may come, God’s truth will provide ways to overcome. He makes plain the disparities between the rich and the poor. He admonishes the believer to maintain a perspective of grace and humility, and he clearly demonstrates how followers of Christ should subvert the status quo and be partakers of righteousness so that God’s justice can prevail. He warns against the pitfalls of life’s temptations, flaws of the flesh, and urges the path of righteousness which is grounded in God’s word. But then he brings the chapter to a close by stating what is the most crucial part of our faith – “being doers…and not hearers alone.”

Just like those followers of Jesus in ancient times, who faced persecution, ridicule, captivity, poverty and bondage — much like what is still present  in our world today — we simply cannot get comfortable and be pacified with good church preaching and teaching. We must be diligent in study, and be imitators of Christ by taking faithful action on the things that we have learned and are still being taught through the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. What does it really mean to be a doer?


“The major job was getting people to understand that they had something within their power that they could use, and it could only be used if they understood what was happening and how group action could counter violence…” - Ella Jo Baker

The activist Baker put into practice the words that we find in the biblical text. She was a doer, not a hearer alone — playing a major role in mentoring the younger generation through education and social justice activism in the modern American civil rights movement. Who can you mentor in your congregation or community about anti-violence, human rights and racial justice?

United Methodist Women have a longstanding her-story of being doers and not hearers alone. Mai Gray, a United Methodist Women member who helped craft our current Charter for Racial Justice, presided over the 1978 Assembly at the Louisville, Ky., convention center where it was adopted. Lois M. Dauway was a former head of United Methodist Women’s social action section and an interim chief officer of the organization. Take some time in your conferences, districts or even local units to discuss ways in which the work of these United Methodist Women leaders and other women in history were a part of the fabric of movements towards racial, economic and social justice.

How and what can we learn from their lives? In what ways can we work collectively to end racial injustice in our world following their visionary examples? These women were not just satisfied with hearing God’s word, but were faithful in their actions toward justice and reconciliation. They heard the words of Jesus and that of the prophet for what is required of us as faithful servants of the most high in the world: “…to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.” As we look to the hope of Christ’s resurrection, let us recommit ourselves to be doers and not hearers alone.  


United Methodist Women members in history and today are doers of and for racial justice. We fought for anti-lynching laws in the 1930s, advocated alongside immigrants for over 200 years, and continue to deepen our listening to the most marginalized among us and to act for the realization of a more just world.

Part of our work as doers includes the many ways that United Methodist Women provides opportunities for us to continue learning and building skills to do racial and social justice work. Research the opportunities below and make a commitment to engage with at least two of these areas in the coming year. Our ongoing work to develop as social justice doers is part of our mandate to advance God’s call for a different kin-dom “on earth as it is in heaven,” with all the fullness of justice, to be with us right here, right now.

Training/Learning Opportunities Recalling and Learning from our History/Foremothers Keep the Learning and Opportunities for Racial Justice Action Going

The Rev. Dionne P. Boissière is chaplain at the Church Center for the United Nations. Janis Rosheuvel is executive for racial justice for United Methodist Women.

Posted or updated: 3/27/2015 12:00:00 AM
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