JPIT’s newest team member, Simeon Mitchell, introduces himself.
For as long as I can remember, I have had more questions than answers. Why can’t I walk on the grass? How do I know that I’m real and not just in a dream? Why is the sea blue when water isn’t?
As I grew older and was exposed to some of the realities of the world, many of my questions became more pointed and focused on issues of injustice. Why is a quarter of the world hungry when the planet produces enough food to feed everyone? Why do we spend so much money on weapons if we don’t want there to be wars? Why doesn’t someone change the system if it doesn’t work?
When I learned more about the Christian faith in which I’d been brought up, I discovered echoes of my questions in the raging of the prophets and the laments of the psalmists, and encountered a Son of Man who answered them with his actions as well as his words. I also discovered a community which does not settle for the world as it is, but is inspired to work towards realising the vision of God’s kingdom.
Fired up by my questions and encouraged by my faith, I got involved: in church, in campaigns and causes, in politics. My political awakening coincided with the fall of Berlin Wall, when I saw the potential of ordinary people to bring about change – an experience later reinforced by my participation in the Jubilee 2000 movement for debt cancellation.
Eventually my involvement led to opportunities to pursue a career working in organisations concerned with social justice – focused on housing and homelessness, then fair trade, then, for the last sixteen years or so, on global poverty and international development. I have held various responsibilities, but a strand running through it all has been a passion to engage Christians in thinking through the implications of our faith for responding to the realities of the world we live in. For allowing our questions to drive our ideals and our activism. And to walk a path of discipleship which means offering answers and alternatives, too.
It is therefore enormously exciting for me to be joining the Joint Public Issues Team, which since its formation has offered such powerful and prophetic witness on behalf of the churches across a range of vital issues, and to be working for the URC, with its strong commitment to generous inclusivity and to speaking out in conscience on matters of justice and peace.
I am still full of questions, and I am looking forward to working with our church members, colleagues and partners to help people engage with some of the issues facing our society today – not only by demanding answers from those who hold power and responsibility (which includes all of us, of course), but also by playing a part in proposing solutions as well.