Coles County Peace and Justice Fund

A Legacy for Social Justice: Robert and Marilyn McClean

Robert and Marilyn McClean have spent their lives advocating for social justice and human rights. Now, they’re creating a fund that will continue their work in Coles County, forever.

Robert McClean is a retired pastor of the United Methodist Church. Unlike many pastors, Robert did not spend most of his time behind the pulpit, but instead, he and his wife, Marilyn, worked behind-the-scenes to represent the United Methodist Church and its organizational values through the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City. “Our job was not to lobby on behalf of the church. Instead, we learned everything we could about current events and social issues and took that information to the churches. It was then the responsibility of the congregations to act on this knowledge,” explains Marilyn.

Their work with the Church Center continued until Robert’s retirement in 1996 and the couple relocated to Marilyn’s hometown of Mattoon, Illinois. Their pursuit of social justice has not wavered since Robert’s retirement. Rather, as active members of their community, Robert and Marilyn have identified a need for the promotion of social justice in Coles County. This need inspired Robert and Marilyn to establish the Coles County Peace and Justice Fund with Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation. The fund will award grants to organizations in Coles County for programs and activities that encourage mutual trust and promote cross-cultural understanding on matters of social justice and human rights, religious tolerance, and environmental protection. Examples of funded projects and programs include but are not limited to: speakers and expenses related to hosted public programs; organizational diversity training; facilitation of cross-cultural, organizational collaboration; and the purchase of content and materials (e.g. books and video) which highlights diversity and encourages greater public understanding.

“This is our way to support the community-based organizations and projects that are in alignment with our worldview,” explains Marilyn. Their worldview, as Marilyn further explains, is connected to the social principles the United Methodist Church which provide guidance for the protection of the natural world, the fostering of a nurturing community, and the addressing of issues within the social, economic, political and world communities.

This fund will continue into perpetuity thanks to a planned legacy gift to the Community Foundation. A Fund Advisory Committee consisting of community members from Coles County who are knowledgeable of the social, religious, economic, and environmental issues in their communities will make grant recommendations for the grant.. 

Our News Articles