by Olivia Kelley

Social justice advocate Shane Claiborne was presented with the J.V. Morsch Social Justice award in chapel on Tuesday morning, an award that has only been given out three times before. 

Claiborne spoke in chapel about his intentional community, The Simple Way as well as his time spent working with Mother Teresa in Calcutta. 

“He immediately got my attention by saying he worked with Mother Teresa,” said sophomore Greg Fritjofson. “I was like, ‘this guy is so real, but he might also be Batman.’”

Claiborne founded The Simple Way in 1998 after returning from his 10-week mission with Mother Teresa. The community resides in the poorest part of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is made up of people who are living in poverty or are homeless. The community provides food, shelter, emergency services, a community garden and neighborhood celebrations throughout the year. 

According to The Simple Way website, “We also believe in challenging the systems and structures that hold people down, squash people’s hope and destroy people’s dignity… we care about things like racial justice, mass incarceration, gun violence (and all violence!), inequality between the rich and poor, and all such things.”

Jamie Calser, director of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice, said it was exciting to have someone as accomplished as Claiborne come to campus.

“He’s challenging us to rethink our responses to these social issues,” he said. “What parts of the Bible are we drawing from and why do we think that way?”

Claiborne and his community are known for challenging the “bad laws,” as he would put it. He said he has even been to jail several times for fighting laws he believed specifically targeted the homeless population. 

“Christians — I don’t know where we get the idea that we’re supposed to be great law abiding citizens. I mean, at our best throughout history we’ve been holy troublemakers,” said Claiborne. “We refuse to accept the world as it is and insist on moving the world towards what God wants it to be.”

Claiborne also lead a discussion forum later in the day about the death penalty and why Christians should be fighting it. The discussion was based on Claiborne’s book, “Executing Grace - How the Death Penalty killed Jesus and Why It’s Killing Us.” 

“The fact that we identify with a victim of capital punishment should make us suspicious of it,” he said. 

Claiborne said he was even taking time, while in Nashville, to visit the prisoners on death row with governor Bill Haslam in an attempt to show the him who they are. 

“It’s hard to kill people when you know them,” said Claiborne. 

Casler said that although some may see this as a controversial topic, it lines up exactly with what the Center for Social Justice believes.

“Sometimes we don't look at the full gospel and what Jesus says about redemption, love, and grace,” said Casler. “I think [Jesus] would live like Shane with the Homeless and fighting for people on death row… We want our students to align with what he’s talking about.”

 
 
by Olivia Kelley

The Church of the Nazarene’s board of General Superintendents issued a statement on Sunday in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order to suspend new-refugee admissions. The statement urged all governments, including the United States, to put in place systems where refugees could find safety. 

“We urge the President of the United States, Congress, and other state departments to make this temporary order a matter of urgency so that the United States may continue to be known as a nation of compassion and hospitality to those who are oppressed, vulnerable, and marginalized.”

Trevecca officials echoed a similar sense of urgency after the election in November 2015 when they urged students and faculty to welcome diversity and show love to the undocumented and marginalized. University chaplain, Shawna Gaines said their mission hasn’t changed.

“This does not need to be a political issue for us… It’s about a love we have for displaced people that goes all the way back to Jesus,” she said. “We can essentially continue being the people God called us to be — with respect to our government leaders and neighbors — but we don't stop pouring out love for refugees.”

Several Trevecca students are already involved with the refugee crisis through the Urban Farm, Center for Social Justice, or refugee outreach programs such as the one at Nashville First Church of the Nazarene. 

Gaines said that changes in Serbia’s refugee laws resulted in the cancellation of a TAG trip there. The students are now being sent to Croatia instead to work with refugees along with several other groups of people. 

“We have to be able to change along with and respond to the changes that are ever present with ministering to refugees,” said Gaines. 

As far as what can be done right now, Gaines said the best thing to do is listen.

“A lot of people feel a sense of wanting people to desperately know that they’re grateful their here but they don’t know how to do that,” she said. “This might be a great time for us to be intentional about reaching out to people who come from different cultural contexts and start asking better questions and listening better. We want to build the kind of relationships where people feel secure.”

Advice from the Board of General Superintendents:

▪ Treat immigrants with love, respect, and mercy.
▪ Participate sacrificially in local, national, and global compassionate ministry responses to assist refugees and immigrants.
▪ Encourage their respective governments to approve equitable laws that will allow for family reunification, legal work permits for productive immigrants in the workforce, and pathways for undocumented immigrants to be able to obtain authorized immigrant status.
▪ Follow the clear biblical mandate to love, welcome, assist, evangelize, and disciple the immigrants near us.