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DENOMINATIONAL MEMBERS

Welcome to the Ohio Council of Churches

A Jesus Christ Movement For Unity, Justice & Peace!

The Ohio Council of Churches (OCC) is a partnership of 18 Christian denominations in 24 different organizational configurations or judicatories throughout Ohio. While our administrative offices are in Columbus, the Ohio Council of Churches is much larger than any office; it is all of us, together, across Ohio!

Justice & Advocacy Ministries

A Lenten Reflection

Today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a time for Christians to admit their imperfections (sin) and work to become more aligned with the vision and values of Jesus Christ. With ashes imposed on our heads or hands, we were reminded today that we are not immortal. Quoting God’s stern words to a sinful Adam, worship leaders cautioned us not to think too highly of ourselves for, after all, we are dust, and to dust we shall return.

The truth of those words was punctuated by news of a mass shooting that killed one person and injured 22 others at the end of today’s Super Bowl celebration parade in Kansas City, Missouri, and a shooting of four students outside of a high school in Atlanta, Georgia. These shootings, and the many more that will have taken place by the close of the day, are disturbing reminders of our mortality and the glaring imperfection of human lives and the systems they manage.

 

I suspect that over the next 40 days, we will contemplate our mortality and imperfection in many different ways. Some of us will try to improve our health and extend our lives by modifying our diets. Others will give up luxuries or pleasures as a way to express regret for sin. These inward and personal Lenten practices, known as fasts, are admirable and can be quite helpful to the individuals who embark upon them.

 

Yet, I think the concern we Lenten Christians must wrestle with has to do with the relationship between personal improvement and societal improvement. How do we link the good that comes from Lenten-inspired better health to the formation of creative human partnerships designed to rid communities of ills such as gun violence and discrimination? How can personal regret for sinful actions inspire communities to reflect on and repent for public policy sinfulness such as gerrymandering and the death penalty? Are such patterns of pain and injustice inevitable aspects of God’s will, or can they be averted and changed through faith-rooted engagement?

 

I believe the Lenten season, joined by the daily reality of lives shattered by gun violence, insists that we Christians contemplate and answer questions such as these. Let us commit to conversing with each other and praying for each other as we enter this time of reflection, confrontation, and change.

 

With Hope,

Jack

The Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr.

Executive Director

The Ohio Council of Churches

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