Hundreds of Christians from around the United States and beyond gathered in Los Angeles, Calif., this weekend to reflect on the biblical call for justice and address modern-day injustices, such as human trafficking, slavery, poverty, HIV/AIDS and human rights violations.
The two-day annual Justice Conference, seen as one of the largest international gatherings on social and biblical justice, drew more than 1,800 attendees and over 200 exhibitors from 44 U.S. states and over two dozen countries.
"It's exciting to be a part of this melting pot of inspirational leaders who have all come to join hands to help strengthen and ignite the social change that is so clearly needed to end the fight against modern day injustices like slavery, urban poverty and HIV/AIDS once and for all," Stephan Bauman, president and CEO of conference organizer World Relief, told The Christian Post.
An international organization, the World Relief is the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals comprising 4,000 staff and 40,000 volunteers. While the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles was the venue for the conference, several satellite locations were set up across the United States.
Speakers at the conference included Dr. Bernice King, a Baptist minister and CEO of The King Center; Rich Stearns, president of the non-profit humanitarian group World Vision U.S.; Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners; Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of National Latino Evangelical Coalition; and Lynne Hybels, founder of Willow Creek Community Church.
"I was taken aback by the sheer community that has presented itself this year at the Orpheum," Bauman said, talking of the last day of the conference on Saturday. "All around me are students, teachers, business people, parents, artists, social entrepreneurs, pastors, poets advocates and academics," he said. "It is an inspiring place where people from all over the country and the world are teaching, communicating and acting on Justice. I am humbled and moved by the number of people who will leave here determined to act out His will to serve the world's most vulnerable."
The conference, which is a movement to educate, inspire and connect a generation of men and women around a shared concern for the vulnerable and oppressed, is in its fourth year.
Early Sunday, the organizers were busy preparing for the return of the Justice Film Festival to be held during the day. The festival aims at inspiring the justice community, and will feature selected films from emerging and well-known artists.
Folk artist Josh Garrels, poet and musician Micah Bournes, rock band Jars of Clay and reggae-infused pop/rock artist Dominic Balli were also part of the conference.
World Relief works on five continents and in some of the most impoverished areas of the world. In the United States, it focuses on serving the foreign-born, including providing immigration legal services to refugees, asylees, parolees, victims of trafficking and other vulnerable immigrants in 24 cities.