Stretching into Justice Ministry Team Year-End Summary
Our mission for the last two years has been to work toward ending mass incarceration.
Why? The United States, with only 5% of the world’s population, now has 25% of the world’s prisoners. Our prison population has increased from 300 thousand to 2.3 million, even as our crime rate dropped substantially. U.S. prison sentences are 7 times longer than in France. In Massachusetts the rate of incarceration increased five-fold since the 1970s. The the overwhelming impact of this incarceration growth has disproportionately fallen on communities of color, making this the social justice issue of our generation.
Below are some of the activities and events in which many at United Parish have participated.
- Jobs NOT Jails Coalition Joined with 125 other organizations to support changes in Massachusetts criminal sentencing policies.
- Letter Writing Campaigns Over the last two years we have joined other faith communities in several letter writing/emailing campaigns to influence our state legislators as they deliberate on ways to end mass incarceration.
- Attend Judicial Committee Hearings and Rallies to End Mass Incarceration
- Church-wide reading and discussion of The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander Several small groups met weekly to discuss this seminal work on the background and systemic inequalities of our justice system that moved us deeply and spurred us into further action around the issue of mass incarceration.
- Toy Drive for Christmas Party for Children of Incarcerated Parents A United Parish teen suggested that we as a congregation participate in this event held in Downtown Boston at the Tremont Baptist Church. She organized the children’s toy drive; and along with several young people took the presents to the children and helped out at the Christmas Party for 200+ children.
- Black Lives Matter Vigil at First Baptist Church, 633 Centre St., Jamaica Plain We joined this peaceful, candlelight vigil on the first Wednesday evening of every month from 5:30 to 6:30.
- Creation of Black Lives Matter banner to show our support for this Movement In April our BLM banner was raised on the front of the church, including Amos 5:24: “Let JUSTICE roll down like waters…” and inviting ALL to join the conversation.
If you are interested in knowing more about upcoming events and/or joining us in this important work, please contact the Church Office. All are most welcome to participate in whatever way feels right!
Or check us out here for more information about the other ways United Parish shows its passion for social justice.
Some additional websites that may be of interest to you in becoming informed and taking action: Jobs NOT Jails Coalition, MA Criminal Justice Policy Coalition and Data from ongoing study of MA criminal justice system