I had been involved in another such experience when I was pastoring in Philadelphia, Pa., that dealt with low-income housing. It was a productive, community-wide project that was able to produce an ecumenical spirit.

Together, we were able to acknowledge service to one God and respect for diversity for the community good and for mission and service to the larger community.

So when the Charleston Area Justice Ministry came along, I was thrilled to be involved in the forming group.

One of its strengths is that there is clearly a lot of diversity involved. We are a group of black and white congregations that are theologically very diverse. I would like for us to extend that more to our Latino and Asian brothers and sisters as well now.

The diversity of our theological backgrounds and our ability to come together over an idea that we all could support has been quite an achievement.

At last count, there were 20 congregations involved in our community. Our work is to energize folks in each of these participating congregations to act on a particular issue.

The success of this is due to having an independent organization creating this core leadership as opposed to one denomination.

This has to be clergy inspired. Lead pastors of congregations need be on board for this to really work so we can address a number of issues such as affordable health care, juvenile justice and justice for everyone in our court systems. These are issues that grieve me.

The justice ministry has lot of work, and many opportunities to pursue.

The Rev. Charles Heyward, pastor of St. James Presbyterian on James Island