Cornel West says that justice is what love looks like in public.

I became involved in the Charleston Area Justice Ministry because I wanted to be public about my love and commitment to my neighbors and our natural home.

As a relative newcomer to Charleston, I have been delighted to find a vibrant and diverse group of people of faith who want to make the Lowcountry better, fairer and more equitable for all. To be honest, I couldn’t wait to join with other kindred spirits in working on solutions to our common problems.

One of the most enjoyable parts of CAJM is the way it has knit so many different people and neighborhoods together. Reflecting on the year, I think of meetings in downtown synagogues, North Charleston churches, James Island congregations and many places in between.

I picture the rich diversity of colleagues: men and women, black and white, old and young, all savoring each other’s company while working for the larger community.

One of the justice ministry’s most important contributions has been the relationship building between people who might not otherwise intersect. Getting to know each other as neighbors makes our community stronger. Perhaps our most important contribution has been the movement we have made toward our initial goals of getting every child in Charleston County ready to read and reducing the number of children we send to the detention center for nonviolent offenses

Our work may actually result in more kids reading at grade level and fewer kids placed on the path to prison.

In the future, I see our justice ministry growing and becoming even more diverse, reflecting the true texture of the larger Charleston area. I also see us making a real difference in the lives of our sisters and brothers as we work toward measurable, attainable goals whose effects will be felt.

My hope is that many others will join us in living out our love in public by working for justice for each other and our Earth.

The Rev. Jeremy Rutledge, senior pastor of Circular Congregational Church