In the 1950s, the Methodist Federation for Social Action came under attack during the days of the Red Scare and McCarthyism. Labeled “Methodism’s Pink Fringe” by an essay in Reader’s Digest, the Federation was asked to no longer be the Church’s voice for social justice.
With no apportionment funds from the general Church and no strong support from the denomination, MFSA was kept alive by the work of Lee and Mae Ball.
Noting the importance of an independent advocate for social change in the Church, Lee and Mae led MFSA by knocking on parsonage doors, participating in civil rights protests, corresponding with prison inmates, and publishing a newsletter, the Social Questions Bulletin (SQB). All of this laid the ground work to help the Federation become stronger for years ahead.
Lee and Mae Ball were never content to remain within the walls of a Church building because they knew they could only find Jesus in the company of the poor and oppressed. They engaged those who were “spiritual, but not religious” long before the Church had words to describe such a belief. And so today, the Methodist Federation for Social Action recognizes those individuals who have that same Spirit for peace with justice, for being the Church beyond the walls, and lifting up the best practices of the Methodist Federation for Social Action.
The 2015 Ball Award recipient has been a life-long advocate for justice and peace, through the church and in the community. In the mid 60s he was one of the pastors named by the National Council of Churches to go to Mississippi to help with the freedom schools and voter registration. He was an early protester against the Vietnam war, and has demonstrated against the B1 bomber, nuclear weapons, war in general, the coming of a drone base to Des Moines and on many other peace issues, and has been arrested several times for his witness. He worked with Rabbi Jay Goldberg and Roman Catholic Bishop Maurice Dingman to create a Peace Garden in the premier park in downtown Des Moines. More recently he was the driving force to be sure that Peace Garden was remembered and restored as the city did a major remodel of that park.
The Methodist Federation for Social Action is proud to present The Ball Award to Rev. Chet Guinn of Des Moines, Iowa. The award was presented to Chet at Gather at the River in San Antonio, TX. Thank you, Chet Guinn, for all you do to make the city of Des Moines, the state of Iowa, and the United Methodist Church a place where peace with justice is central to the minds of all people!