FaithXperimental Spotlight: Justice Revival, Washington, DC

This Spotlight post on Justice Revival was written
by Allyson McKinney Timm, Executive Director

“A Justice Ministry Whose Time Has Come”

A few years ago, Megan, a millennial fresh out of college, was clear on her calling—she wanted to join a Christian human rights organization. Megan had grown up in the Church, studied theology, led mission trips. But when she went searching, there wasn’t such a group to be found. She discovered worthwhile ministries tackling crucial justice issues from hunger to human trafficking, but none focused on human rights as such.

Fast forward to 2019: Megan, now a skilled professional, joins a team meeting one morning to meet a new nonprofit client. She is unexpectedly moved because she finally hears someone articulate her deep conviction about the vital need for a Christian ministry specializing in human rights. That person is Allyson McKinney Timm, founder of Justice Revival based out of Washington, DC.

Justice Revival describes itself as “a diverse, inclusive community of Christian faith, dedicated to serving as a voice for human rights in the United States.” Its vision is a vibrant, transformative movement in which Christian faith leaders call on U.S. lawmakers to fulfill their moral and legal duty to respect and protect the human rights of all people, not just a particular class of citizenry.

McKinney Timm is a human rights lawyer and Presbyterian elder who spent years defending widows and orphans in East Africa before teaching human rights at Yale Law School. Long concerned about how some Christians have opposed human rights protections, often in the name of their own Christian faith, McKinney Timm pursued a Master in Divinity at Yale to probe this paradox. She emerged with renewed conviction that Gospel values of neighbor love and justice for the marginalized give Christians a clear mandate to uphold human rights.

Of course, many denominations have long affirmed human rights, and various faith groups continue to advocate on a range of justice issues. In this plentiful ministry landscape, why do we need a new organization on human rights? As McKinney Timm explains:

“Right now, we’re seeing unprecedented challenges to well-established human rights standards and the institutions that protect them. In the wake of the migrant family separation scandal, this administration continues to defy international norms with plans to detain immigrant children indefinitely. It has withdrawn from global safeguards like the UN Human Rights Council and championed a problematic ‘Commission on Unalienable Rights’ that is stoking fear about the role of religion in human rights discourse. 

These are huge challenges for a nation where most people and even many faith leaders have not had much opportunity to study human rights or the global legal framework that protects these rights.”

McKinney Timm views Justice Revival’s role as bringing together Christian thought on human rights and an understanding of human rights law in a way that empowers faithful advocacy on pressing domestic issues like homelessness and hate crimes. The group aims to provide a unique platform and resources in support of this goal. Its strategies include education, public thought leadership, and advocacy. 

Justice Revival has created an innovative course, Human Rights in Christian Perspective, which combines an overview of human rights issues with a study of related biblical themes and Christian ethical thought. So far, the course has reached some 270 participants at over a dozen communities in six different states. The response has been positive and encouraging. 

Rev. Christopher Chateleine-Samsen of Georgetown Presbyterian Church had this to say:

“After years of ministry, sometimes it feels hard to get excited about new areas of theology and practice, but I’m genuinely engaged in this important area now, and I hope that the way I and we do ministry will be permanently changed.”

Justice Revival raises awareness about its cause through preaching and speaking engagements, and provides commentary on current human rights issues in the media. Look for an opinion article by McKinney Timm on the new State Department commission in the November issue of Sojourners magazine. 

Through advocacy partnerships, Justice Revival is endorsing initiatives aligned with its mission, like the Housing Not Handcuffs campaign to end the criminalization of homelessness, as well as the Christians Against Christian Nationalism movement. As it grows, the group plans to initiate and coordinate advocacy campaigns of its own.

We hope you’ll consider connecting with this unique human rights justice ministry. An early stage organization, Justice Revival is actively recruiting for its leadership and volunteer teams. You can explore opportunities and express interest here

Or consider bringing the Human Rights in Christian Perspective course to your church or fellowship. Write to [email protected] to learn more. 

Now more than ever, a vocal Christian witness for justice and human rights is crucial. Like Megan, we are glad to welcome an innovative new ministry whose time has come.