Jubilee Ministry was created by an act of General Convention in 1983 to encourage a ministry of joint discipleship in Christ with poor and oppressed people, “to meet basic human needs and to build a just society. Jubilee Ministries seek to fulfill Christ’s mandate found in the Gospel of Matthew: to provide for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, welcome for the stranger, clothing for the naked, healing for the sick, and companionship for the captive. Today, over 700 ministries across The Episcopal Church have achieved Jubilee status, as recognized by the Executive Council.”
Now under the umbrella of The Episcopal Church's Domestic Poverties Ministries, Jubilee Ministry Centers empower those who are poor and oppressed in their communities by providing direct service, such as food, shelter, and healthcare, while also advocating for human rights.
Jubilee as Theology – finding the beauty in the broken
Theologian Walter Brueggemann wrote that jubilee is “an invitation to re-choose at elemental levels of life, “between life and death; between God and “mammon” (false objects of worship and devotion).
Scripturally, Jubilee is about forgiveness of debt, a way of adjusting the imbalance that happens between poverty and wealth. Every 50 years, every 7 years, every day if one believes that Jesus is the new jubilee; that is how often forgiveness and reconciliation should occur.
Jubilee is not simply a set of verses stuck in the middle of Scripture and ignored because it is a difficult thing to do. Jubilee must be lived every day. It is a vital part of who we are as the Church.
Jubilee Ministries in the Diocese
What does Jubilee Ministry have to do with this diocese? At this moment, there is one Jubilee Center in this diocese. Trinity Food Ministry of Trinity Church in the Central West End became a Jubilee Center in 1993.
Charity and justice are both instrumental in alleviating poverty. Assistance must be offered even as we examine and root out the causes of systemic poverty. Charity without justice can be toxic charity because it is often given for the benefit of the giver rather than for the benefit of the one being gifted.
Thomas K. Tewell wrote “Root causes of injustice usually require questioning the institutions and social policies that violate the human dignity of groups of people.” He goes on to write that the changes required will often upset some. Yet, we are bound by our vows as baptized people “to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” Human dignity is violated in every poor and oppressed person.
This diocese is ready to expand its Jubilee Ministry. We are called to feed the hungry but we are also equally called to address the cause of that hunger. The goal of Jubilee Ministry is to know the difference and to be ready to work for both to the glory and honor of God.
Do you believe your parish or “ecumenical cluster” (Episcopal presence) is doing the ministry of joint discipleship in Christ to work with poor and oppressed people “to meet basic human needs and to build a just society"
In May 2016, Bishop Wayne Smith appointed Barbi Click to serve as Jubilee Officer for the Diocese of Missouri. There have been additional Jubilee projects in this diocese, some ended, some spun-off into nonprofits such as the Howard Park Early Childhood Center begun at St. Martin's.