From the moment she walked on stage, praising the Lord with “God is good,” the Conference could easily recognize the life that Tina Harris is going to bring to her new role as Director of Mission, Service and Justice. “Harris is pleased as punch” to be joining the Conference team on July 1 after serving at Grand Avenue Temple in downtown Kansas City. As she discussed at Saturday morning’s business session, her goal for this position is to mold churches into justice champions. Her role as director will serve these champions in three distinct ways.
A cheerleader. Harris genuinely wants to hear about the work each church is doing. Sharing these accomplishments will enable her to spread the good news and encourage the works being done.
A coach. Her prayers are for each church to continue to grow and improve in their works, for God is the true motivator. But she also wants to challenge churches to push the limits and go further than they ever thought possible before. “Don’t let my smile fool you. My job will be to make you uncomfortable because we’re living in a world that is in desperate need. We’re living in times that are so tense even some folks in the church are being quiet when we’re suppose to be speaking up,” said Harris.
A critic. Harris said it’s important for her to step on toes so the church doesn’t get comfortable remaining silent. Justice and action in the name of Christ are more important for society than the inconvenience it may bring the church.
“If I see anyone ignoring injustice, or complicit in systems of oppression, or fighting more about the type of music at worship instead of the hungry children that are down the street, please know that I’m going to get on your nerves, bless God,” said Harris.
Encouraged by the Wesleyan roots of the United Methodist Church, Harris said she looks forward to the fight for justice and seeing the ways God will work through churches in the coming years.
The merge of the Creative Ministries and Social Justice teams will enable the Conference to lead churches in service, mission and social justice after a need and passion were expressed in the conference and church levels.