Our neighborhood churches spent four Sunday nights during Lent gathering to learn more about how the court system works in our county. I still marvel at the willingness of our churches to meet and partner and collaborate and plot. And I'm thankful for the willingness of Judge Charles Pratt and his friends to invest in us, to encourage us, and to guide us in this new journey.
Our fourth Sunday was spent at Grace Presbyterian Church, and the goal was to put forth some action-items. With what we learned about the Family Court Division, we wanted to know: what now? Judge Pratt encouraged the church members to consider these options for volunteering and making a difference:
* partner with the YWCA and help care for women who are victims of domestic abuse
* get the training to become a foster-parent; also - consider adopting foster-children
* join CASA - child appointed special advocate
* help families get counseling from a Biblical, Christian perspective
* incorporate the 40 assets in the congregation
Some of the neighborhood pastors met this morning to keep the momentum going and discuss what's next for us. It was important for us to hear from each other what we wanted to do next. We charted out a process for points of contact - what is our plan for when different individuals and families reach out to us for help regardless of where they are at in their involvement with the courts and prisons. We highlighted what programs or actions are already being implemented or supported, but we also noted some new areas to investigate. It was really helpful to chart out where in the process we have much to offer, and where we need to improve.
There's definitely a strong sense that we are part of a God-thing here. Jesus, when he announced his arrival, read from the prophet Isaiah, announcing that the good news would, amongst other things, help set the prisoners free. This is what we are about - our neighborhood has many individuals and families who need the good news, who need deliverance, who need community, who need help breaking free from the prison-industrial complex. The whole gospel for the whole person. If we're part of the neighborhood, and we're going to be good news, then we have to bring light and hope to those walking in the dark.