“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)
As a returning CTS student, ordained minister and elder, education nonprofit life coach, advocate, mother of three, and caregiver, Simone Murray has a great deal on her plate. And yet, she continues to embrace God’s calling on her life and believes that addressing issues of injustice is core to her ministry.
As our country continues to grapple with racial inequities, Murray has partnered with others committed to addressing the needs of marginalized communities through mobilization and political advocacy. In June, she joined the Indiana Racial Justice Alliance (IRJA), a grassroots movement working for justice for underrepresented communities across Indianapolis. “Everything in my life is a ministry,” Murray shared. “I don’t wait for an invitation to get involved. If I notice something and resolve in my spirit it is good, I seek ways that I can support.” Drawn to the mission of the IRJA, she felt compelled to use her gifting in photography to help convey the visual imagery of the group’s efforts for systemic change.
As with the civil rights movement decades before, powerful visuals are telling the story of the current fight for justice. Murray’s photos convey the diversity of those committed to this movement, which she described as a melting pot that truly represents who we are intended to be as a country. African American, Caucasian, and Latinx women and men, members of the LGBTQI community, and members of indigenous communities have all been participating in the IRJA’s work. The group also emphasizes the importance of different political affiliations to ensure all voices are truly represented and heard.
Regarding criminal justice, the IRJA has put forth the following demands of local leadership:
- To defund a percentage of the budgets from departments to invest in community programs and services
- To create a community-led external review board
- To move IPD internal affairs under external review
- To ensure that all departments have independent liability insurance
Murray acknowledged that some progress has been made in these areas and referenced the Indianapolis City Council’s recent call for civilian representation on law enforcement review boards. However, she insisted that there is much work still to be done. Murray explained that the IRJA also works to addresses issues around immigration, advocating for the abolition of ICE and that our indigenous and immigrant brothers and sisters are fully respected and receive the rights they deserve.
In reflecting on the intersection of faith and social justice, Murray shared that CTS has played a pivotal part in her journey. “I can’t separate Christianity and the social work I do. That has been solidified during my time at CTS. Dean Gunning Francis and my professors have helped me unpack and unlearn my own biases and feel worthy and confident in the fight for justice. Rev. Mary Harris, Rev. Monique Crain, Dr. Kimberly Russaw, Dr. Christina Davis – all of these women have truly poured into me. I would not be as outspoken as I am, and comfortable in declaring what I believe in had it not been for their kinship and covering. I count it as a blessing to have made these connections. We are not just a number on a student ID at CTS, we’re called ‘world changers’. Had I not chosen to attend CTS, I would not have had these phenomenal experiences. It has been a privilege to walk through those doors on my journey to receive my Master of Divinity. It is a priceless experience.”
Check out Murray’s sermon in the CTS chapel on April 5, 2019:
Also included in the August 2020 Christian Theological Seminary Connection
- Faith & Action Project August 2020 Newsletter - Read the newest edition of the Faith & Action Project’s monthly newsletter!
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- MDiv Student Simone Murray Works with Indiana Racial Justice Alliance - “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9) As a returning CTS student, ordained minister and elder, education nonprofit life coach, advocate, mother of three, and caregiver, Simone Murray has a […]
- Faith & Action Grant Recipients Launch Minnie Hartmann Center - In 2019, Near East Area Renewal (NEAR) and Shepherd Community Center received a $30,000 grant from CTS’s Faith & Action Project to help build the Minnie Hartmann Center on the near east side of Indianapolis. The center, located at 3734 E. Vermont St., is housed in what used to be Indianapolis Public School 78, an […]