Hearing the Cries for Justice was a great conference on confronting racism in Oregon’s justice system and concern for persons impacted by the criminal justice system. It was held in Portland in January 2018.
I went to the presentation on Preventing the School to Prison Pipeline. Each school day 7000 students drop out of high school in the USA. This is an astounding figure. And many of them wind up incarcerated. I was inspired to help with a Criminal Justice Sunday celebration at St John the Baptist Episcopal Church in SW Portland.
We celebrated Criminal Justice Sunday at St John the Baptist Episcopal Church on 9/02/2018. We were blessed to have Deacon Tom English, Chaplain to Prison Ministries with the Oregon Diocese and Rev. Audrey Zunkel-de Coursey from EMO join us. We prayed especially for all persons impacted by our criminal justice system, offenders, victims of crime, legal and corrections staff, law enforcement and the families of all these people.
Deacon Tom inspired us to treat our neighbors as ourselves and reach out to those in prison. He told us that we had 5,500 people in Oregon prisons in 2001 and 14,000 people in the Oregon prison system in 2018. He reminded us that this is a community issue as it affects everyone. He encouraged us to think of ways that we can reach those affected by our criminal justice system. I will always remember his words, “our boat is small and our ocean is so big, so we need more hands on deck.”
We commissioned Miki Charlton, Mark FitzMaurice and Rev Chris Lang to Prison Ministries at St John the Baptist. Our Social Ministries team met afterwards with Deacon Tom English and Rev Audrey at Liz and Arnie Klein’s home for great conversation, sharing of ideas and good food.
I am hopeful that there will be another “Hearing the Cries for Justice” conference in the Metro region in the future. Look for it and plan to attend. It was the best conference I have attended.
Submitted by Elizabeth Klein