Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Organizer Called to Justice Ministry

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Organizer Called to Justice Ministry

Article excerpt

Shanae M. Elem is feeling positive these days about Topeka JUMP, an organization founded in 2012 that remains committed to its mission of pressing the city's power-brokers on matters of social justice.

Elem, who grew up in Kansas City, Mo., and went to college in Florida, serves as the lead organizer for JUMP -- an acronym for Justice Unity and Ministry Project. She has been with the Topeka- based organization since 2013.

Yet she quickly points out that members of the 20 local churches that make up Topeka JUMP are the real leaders, and that she is simply the one who focuses on organizing.

For Elem, it isn't as much about being an organizer as it is about serving in ministry.

"This is my way of fulfilling my calling to bring the prophetic voice of the church back to the forefront of our community," Elem said. "We spend a lot of our time working to meet the immediate needs of individuals, and that's important, and that will never go away.

"But I am hoping to build this vehicle for churches to redeem the systems in our community that have maybe forgotten or lost touch with their responsibility to take care of the widow, the orphan and the poor."

Elem and associate organizer Elisabet Barrios help coordinate Topeka JUMP. Both say they were drawn to the organization because it offered them a chance to express their faith in a tangible way.

"Topeka JUMP is a community organization," Elem said, "but as an individual, this is a ministry -- and ministry has valleys and mountaintops, but that's what we're here for. We're here for the long haul. I think where we've been is representative of where we're going -- which is, we're not going away."

Elem said a great part about JUMP is that it works both in the community and in people's lives.

"This organization not only transforms the community," she said, "it also transforms the people who are doing the work. It works from the inside out. …

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