Shari Prestemon's predecessor at Back Bay Mission came there with a well-defined task -- close the mission. The divisions of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s had split local churches. Back Bay's activism on behalf of the had created controversy in Biloxi. There were no longer any UCC congregations in Mississippi. The mission appeared doomed. But, Shari noted with a smile, her predecessor "failed." Back Bay Mission experienced a rebirth. And now it tries to live out the words of the prophet, Micah -- to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God.
Shari talked about the kindness part -- the food pantry, the outreach workers, the housing reconstruction. And she talked about the justice part -- asking why people faced oppressive conditions and then trying to change those conditions. "When you go home," she told our groups, "think about the justice issues in your back yards and then figure out what you can do about them."