Churches & City Partner to Combat Human Trafficking

Churches work together, partner with community on anti-human trafficking effort

stoptraffickingSeveral local churches, including Grace Church of Eden Prairie and Wooddale Church are partnering with the City of Eden Prairie’s Human Rights and Diversity Commission and hoping to raise awareness about human trafficking.

The Stop the Traffick(ing) 5K Walk/Run for Justice, the culmination of their efforts, will take place on Saturday, June 14 at Purgatory Creek Park in Eden Prairie.

Christine Erickson, director of Children at Risk Ministries at Grace Church originally conceived of the idea for a run about a year ago. She had worked on human trafficking issues in the past, and part of her role at Grace Church is to “raise awareness about the issue and get the church more actively involved in the fight for justice,” she said.

The involvement of several local churches and the city is a unique example of building bridges into the community

In January, Erickson met with Eden Prairie’s city manager, police chief and director of parks and recreation. They were supportive of the idea for a run and eventually the city’s Human Rights and Diversity Commission jumped on board.

At Wooddale Church, the Rev. Richard Payne, Worldwide (Missions) Pastor, said the congregation has been involved globally and locally in anti-human trafficking efforts for years.

“We feel that we’re called to watch out for the poor and the oppressed based on Isaiah 58 and based on Matthew 25:34-46,” he said. “That’s one thing we at Wooddale feel called to do.”

Through the work of volunteers and others, Wooddale decided the Stop the Traffick(ing) 5KWalk/Run for Justice was something they could easily get behind. It was a way to raise awareness about an issue that some people think only happens overseas and also to provide opportunities for people to get involved locally.

“In fact, Minnesota, if you look at all the statistics that are quoted from various places, it’s between the 10th and the 13th most trafficked state in the nation,” Payne said. “It’s all about education; it’s all about repetitive education as well to keep the topic at the forefront and to work on ways to get individuals involved in much more personal ways than just events.”

Wooddale is planning a follow-up event to the run one week later.

The involvement of several local churches and the city is a unique example of building bridges into the community and how more can be accomplished by working together than by working alone.

“I think it’s an opportunity to show the community at large that we care about this issue as a church,” Erickson said. “It’s a way to be the church outside the church walls as well. It’s a bridge-building issue where you can come alongside as a follower of Christ with someone who is not a believer, and you can still say this is wrong, let’s work together to address it. It’s an opportunity to build a bridge into the community.”

Click here to read more about StopTheTraffickingRun.org and learn how to participate.


June 3, 2014

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