The Highrock Network welcomes its first female Lead Pastor, Brynn Harrington, in North Shore.
In the book of Micah, we meet a prophet who is speaking to God and to God’s people, the people of Israel. All seems to be going well in their world - they’re safe, well-resourced, flourishing… and yet, the reality is that not ALL of them are safe. Not ALL are well resourced. Not ALL are flourishing. God has been faithful to Israel, but Israel has ignored the welfare of those in their midst who are easy to overlook - the widows, the orphans, and others on the margins of society. It was easy for the comfortably religious of Micah’s time to convince themselves that they loved God, but Micah invites the people to consider another way: “To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) This is where the inspiration for the name of Highrock’s new initiative “Love Mercy, Do Justice,” comes from.
Walter Bruggeman, an Old Testament scholar, notes that there are those who strut with pride, and those who walk with humility. The person who struts doesn’t take stock of anyone or anything around them - they are concerned only with themselves, and what others think of them. But the person who walks with God on the journey notices their fellow travelers. They start to see how their life is inextricably tied to everyone else’s on the journey, and so the lives of their traveling companions matter in a new, tangible way.
The reality is that many of us at Highrock are comfortable and have distanced ourselves from those on the journey with us. Like the Israelites Micah addresses, it might not be intentional, but the consequence is a disconnect from people God loves and from God’s own heart.
Like much of the world, Highrock’s attention was turned to the reality of systemic injustice during 2020 due to COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on under-resourced communities. At the same time, we could no longer look away from the realities of racism that historically and systemically oppress Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities. We stepped out for a year as a white-culture institution, listening to people of color, learning their stories and histories, and lamenting for what we have done and what we have left undone. Now we must continue to walk with God, and with our other companions on the journey.
To that end, Highrock is leaning into the theme of Love Mercy, Do Justice by committing to the cause of those whose personhood and wholeness have been devalued through systemic and personal oppression and by appointing the Love Mercy, Do Justice team to prioritize and hold us accountable to this commitment. This team will focus on the long-term work of identifying where Highrock has contributed to oppression, and then lead us in repentance and making reparations in hopes that our community can one day be more inclusive and equitable as we serve in God’s Kingdom.
The Love Mercy, Do Justice team will be co-led by pastors and laypeople who are committed to helping Highrock listen to and learn from those on the margins, and respond as an institution that upholds a more just and merciful vision of the Kingdom of God. The Love Mercy, Do Justice team will provide resources to existing ministries seeking to actively incorporate love for the marginalized into their programs and communities, and will also help set and execute goals for institutional shifts and hold Highrock accountable for growth in its stated value of solidarity. Love Mercy, Do Justice will be the uniting theme of Highrock’s justice-oriented ministries such as Highrock Beyond Bars, our partnership with Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership and Development, and AccessAbility, and will work with and empower the Revelation 7 Faculty to lead us in the places where we cannot go as a current staff.
If you would have asked me a few years ago if I ever thought Highrock could not just support, but endorse a priority like this, I don’t know if I would have believed you. The cost of leaning into freedom for all is great, yet, just like in the book of Micah, God’s faithfulness meets us on this journey. I am excited to see how God will move and change us in this walk of humility, towards mercy, justice, and a more full embodiment of the Kingdom.
Pastor Meghan DeJong, Highrock Online Campus Pastor