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a blog and creative archive by James M. Branum

Changes in my ministry…

I have a pretty big change in my life underway which I need to share with my broader community of friends, so I thought a blog post would be the way to do that.

My announcement is that I will soon be ending my my time as the minister of Peace and Justice at Joy Mennonite Church, and that I’m stepping into a new ministry role with another community that is being formed, The Oklahoma Objector Church.

Joy Mennonite ChurchThis was not an easy decision for me to make. Through good times and bad, Joy has been my primary spiritual home for the last 14 years, and the last 11 years of service as a minister has been richly rewarding for me. At times I got to serve in the congregational context (preaching, pastoral counseling, etc.) but most of the time I served outside the congregation through my work as the legal director of for the Center for Conscience in Action. But in whatever context I served, I tried to bring my ministry calling with me, seeking to find ways to work for the kind of world that Jesus called his followers to bring to life, and for which all of the major world religions point towards.

Picture: Moses & Sadie MastI have loved Joy since I first visited (at the invitation of the legendary Sadie Mast)  and not long after that I joined the church. Joy gave me a home where I could be open in speaking out against war and provided me a base of operations and friendship for many years, especially the tough years of 2007-2011 when I was most deeply involved in anti-war activism. Most of my closest friends in Oklahoma are folks I first met through Joy in some way and my time at Joy is a big part of who I am today. Even in the hard times at Joy (and yes, we had plenty of those too), I was shaped by those experiences. Joy Mennonite ChurchI will always be grateful for my time at Joy and will always try to do my best to support and affirm this community in its work. (and I hope to continue to find ways to partner with Joy on projects of common interest)

Yet, at the same time I am excited about the new opportunity I have for service. An opportunity has arisen for me to work with a new church, the Church of Conscious Objection, aka “The Objector Church.” The founders of this church are dedicated peace activists that I’ve known for many years through the Courage to Resist Project, and I’m excited to get to serve in this new context. My hope is that I will be able to build not only a new local congregation but also help the broader Objector Church become a growing nation-wide movement of religious opposition to war in all its forms.

Objector-Church-FullLogo-300x300

With regards to this new work, I’m probably most excited about the fact that I will be getting to serve in a true interfaith context. Objector Church’s theology is rooted in religious humanism, which means that we will welcome members who share our conviction about opposition to war and working for a more just and sustainable world, but who may practice different (or even no) religious traditions. I have long been a dedicated and obsessive student of world religions (most especially Judaism, but also Buddhism, Taoism, and to a lesser extent Islam and Hinduism) and I’m excited about the opportunity to help people from many diverse religious and philosophical traditions explore their conscience and celebrate life cycle rituals that are meaningful to them. I have long felt that the Divine is too big to fit into any one religion, so this new ministry context feels like the right place for me.

For all of my friends out there who have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me what you want to ask. And for anyone who is interested in this new venture, I would welcome to check out the website (very rudimentary and still under construction) for my new ministry – OKObjector.church.

Updated: October 18, 2018 — 2:09 am

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