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Taking the Journey of Faith, Becoming Agents of Compassion
JustFaith is a scripture-based adult education program that looks at poverty and compassion through the lens of faith. Through prayer, study, and immersion experiences, participants are enabled to respond to the prophetic call to bring justice to a broken world.
Our Christian faith and biblical tradition extend an extraordinary invitation to individuals and faith communities to become agents of God’s compassion and healing. The good news of Christ is both a comfort and a promise to the poor. At the same time, it is a call to those of us who are not poor to participate in God’s vision of justice and reconciliation.
JustFaith is a small group study program that inspires individuals to take action on behalf of God’s vision for the world. In 30 sessions, JustFaith uses the best forms of adult learning. Each session lasts about two to three hours. Participants are exposed to a substantive course of study. They also share with other participants a journey of faith and compassion that is life-changing.
JustFaith was first introduced nationally in 2001 with the sponsorship of Catholic Charities USA. It was immediately and dramatically successful in hundreds of Catholic parishes. This in-depth spiritual formation program has been used in more than 1,000 churches from many different faith traditions—with more than 20,000 graduates. In 2008, Bread for the World worked with JustFaith to develop a new ecumenical version of the curriculum to meet growing interest in the larger Christian community. Bread for World is now a full partner in JustFaith—as are Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Relief Services, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, and Pax Christi USA.
The optimum size for a JustFaith group is between 10-15 people; however, some groups are smaller and some are a bit larger. Typically, participants gather weekly for prayer, discussion of books and videos, presentations by guest speakers, retreats, and immersion experiences.
The JustFaith curriculum includes readings, films, discussion, and prayer. Both the Catholic and ecumenical versions incorporate a Bread for the World Offering of Letters as well as information directly from Bread for the World.
Opening and closing retreats are part of the planned curriculum. Retreats can take place on campus at the local church, a retreat center, or a participant’s home.
Four “border crossings” are included in the JustFaith syllabus. Often, these days take place on Saturday, and they serve as an “out of classroom” experience. These border crossings provide face-to-face contact with people struggling with poverty and hardship. These days also include social analysis and spiritual reflection.
Who Leads JustFaith?
JustFaith does not require professional staff to lead the sessions. The program is designed to be co-facilitated by two or more church members. No special skills are needed to co-facilitate a JustFaith group—only an interest in social ministry and some experience working with groups. JustFaith is an intensive and rigorous program, but the materials can be easily used by the average church member.
Group facilitators receive comprehensive materials, including a detailed curriculum, facilitation training, prayer materials, retreat instructions, and follow-up activities. An email discussion list links all co-facilitators across the country. JustFaith staff are available by phone and email to guide the facilitators through the planning, recruitment, and implementation of the program.
How to Get Started
Most churches find starting a group in the fall works best. A church may form more than one group if it wishes. Or individuals from several churches can form one group. For parishes in low-income communities, reduced fees and scholarships are available.
The registration fee is $325 for each church and includes access to the extensive curriculum and support from the JustFaith staff. Participants purchase several books during the 30-week program; the total cost of books for each participant adds up to about $155.
JustFaith employs approximately a dozen videos. The cost of purchasing all of the videos the first year is approximately $250. Since the majority of these videos will be used again, this cost is greatly reduced in the second and third years. These videos may also be useful for other adult education programs, youth ministry gatherings, and confirmation classes.
To find out more—including a schedule of orientation workshops around the country—visit www.justfaith.org.
For information about Bread for the World’s partnership with JustFaith, contact Carter Echols at 1-800-822-7323, ext. 130, or firstname.lastname@example.org. To request a free 13-minute introductory DVD, email email@example.com.