Sisters and brothers in Christ,
In January we will have a new president and other elected leaders. We will begin a new chapter in our life as a nation. Jesus’ in his inaugural sermon following his baptism read from Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the captives go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” In our baptism every Christian is called to “strive for justice and peace in all the earth.”
During Advent I want to invite lay and rostered leaders to a training opportunity being offered by the Florida Council of Churches under the leadership of our own Pr. Russell Meyer who serves as Executive Director.
Pr. Meyer sends the following time sensitive invitation: “…we applied for and received a grant to build faith capacity for criminal justice reform in the state of Florida. Please encourage participation in the four training sessions coming up during Advent.
Please register at www.floridachurches.org/reform. I know the timing is unusual, but it is related to preparing properly for legislative efforts this spring. The schedule for trainings is as follows:
|Tampa||Sacred Heart Catholic||2:00 – 5:30 pm||30-Nov|
|Jacksonville||Episcopal Church of Redeemer||9:00 am – 1:00 pm||5-Dec|
|Orlando||Carter Tabernacle CME||10:00 am – 2:00 pm||10-Dec|
|Miami||Temple Israel||9:00 am – 1:00 pm||16-Dec|
The trainings will focus on five issues: the death penalty, trying children as adults, civil citations, mandatory minimums, and rights restoration. These trainings will include presentations from groups that have been working on legislative and administrative actions. We will also hear of various prison and reentry ministries.
Florida’s criminal justice system, especially it’s large population in prison, is no longer affordable. The state budget is under pressure and calls from across the political spectrum are seeking major changes. It’s a moment when a well-coordinated faith effort can help spur true criminal justice reform.
…I do ask that you make a special effort to send a representative voice to as many of the trainings as possible so that they may help interpret the Reform Justice Campaign within your communion and drive greater participation for our Tallahassee rally on February 7-8.
Thank you for being church together for the sake of the world!
Peace be yours,
+ Robert G. Schaefer
Bishop of the Florida-Bahamas Synod