Faith in Action class hosts first justice fair

Around the world are starving people, invasive species, unsafe environments, and broken systems. These critical issues must be addressed, but in order to address an issue, there must first be awareness. The Justice Fair, held by the Faith in Action class, brought this awareness to the BSM community.


Ginny Lyons

At the Justice Fair, seniors taking the Faith in Action class informed students from other theology classes about social issues. The room was filled with poster boards and interactive activities for the visitors to learn about advocacy organizations.

Faith in Action is a relatively new Theology class available for seniors, taught by the director of mission, Ms. Lisa Lenhart-Murphy. The focus of Faith in Action is advocacy for a global perspective on social justice, so it isn’t limited to national issues. “It’s designed to be a capstone experience from your junior year discipleship class,” Lenhart-Murphy said.

The Justice Fair functioned as a final for Faith in Action, so the students spent much of the semester preparing for it. “We’ve been working for the bulk of [the] second [half of the] semester on these projects, and this is kind of the big reveal to see the kids and how much progress they made,” Lenhart-Murphy said.

We’ve been working for the bulk of [the] second [half of the] semester on these projects, and this is kind of the big reveal to see the kids and how much progress they made.

— Lisa Lenhart-Murphy

A variety of social issues were present at the Justice Fair, including sanctuary cities, super PACs, zebra mussels, freedom of speech, the foster care system, and LGBTQ inclusion. The seniors set up their presentations around the room for the seventh-hour theology classes to visit. They explained their issues to the visiting students, handed out pamphlets, and encouraged action such as signing a petition to make a change.

Senior Sean Lynch did his advocacy work with the International Institute of Minnesota. One of the institute’s major projects is helping settle immigrants and displaying the diverse culture of the Twin Cities. In particular, it helps immigrants from Somalia and Burma adjust to the culture of the Twin Cities when they arrive. “The first week is crucial… [The Institute] teaches [immigrants] how to use the metro area, such as bus and transit,” Lynch said.

For the class, Lynch emailed three organizations, and when the International Institute responded he called the volunteer coordinator. Lynch was then able to help spread awareness of the organization, part of which was in the Justice Fair. To engage students visiting the class, he handed out pamphlets and bookmarks that he made.

Another project was “Spread the Word to End the Word,” which focuses on removing the r-word because of its hateful nature towards people with mental illnesses. Senior Riley O’Connor did this project for personal reasons. “I have a cousin with Down syndrome, and hate it when people would use [that word],” O’Connor said.

O’Connor came across the organization online by searching for one related to the topic of disabilities. Since its primary presence was on social media rather than a physical location, O’Connor faced some difficulties in coordinating with Spread the Word. O’Connor handed out fliers to the community for her advocacy and explained to visiting students how offensive the r-word is, encouraging them to not use it and giving them alternatives.

Lenhart-Murphy and the students were excited to finally see the projects culminate in the Justice Fair as they presented their work on such a wide variety of social issues. “I like [the fair] a lot. You get information from a lot of people… and do what you care for. I’m excited to see how everyone else did,” O’Connor said.

Although the overall result was fulfilling, some of the students felt a little pressed for time in doing their advocacy work and preparing for the Justice Fair. “A problem is that we didn’t focus on the project until the second half of the class,” Lynch said.

As Faith in Action develops, Lenhart- Murphy hopes that the Justice Fair will expand and become a greater part of the BSM community. “Moving forward in the future, I hope on having it grow. It would be our ultimate goal to have it in the Haben, open all day for every student to come during their free periods,” Lenhart-Murphy said.