| Office for Restorative Justice Ministries | Training Events | Conflict Resolution |
Our Methodist heritage is rich with examples of ministries carried out in jails and prisons. As far back as 1778, the Methodist Conference adopted action making it the duty of every Methodist preacher to minister to those who were incarcerated. United Methodists reaffirmed and expanded the mandate for prison ministry and reform in the 1984, 1988, and 1992 General Conferences. Concerned about crime, violence, and injustice in US society and across the globe, United Methodists were called to a deeper engagement in restorative-justice ministries in 1996.
In response to the 1996 General Conference mandate on Prison Ministry/Prison Reform, The United Methodist Church established a Restorative Justice Ministries Inter-Agency Task Force and assigned this unfunded mandate to the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). The GBGM provides staffing, office infrastructure, and major funding for this initiative. The initiative is governed and administered by the Inter-Agency Task Force, chaired by Bishop Robert Morgan and including members from the Council of Bishops, the General Board of Church and Society, the General Board of Discipleship, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the General Board of Global Ministries, and the General Council on Ministries. This task force provides resources, training, coordination, and networking services to United Methodist congregations and their communities, to districts, and to annual conferences.
In January 1999, the General Board of Global Ministries hired a full-time executive director for Restorative Justice Ministries, Harmon Wray. He now coordinates the work of the Inter-Agency Task Force. Formerly coordinator for Ministries with the Poor and Marginalized in the Tennessee Annual Conference, Wray has more than 25 years of experience working on issues related to criminal justice and restorative justice. The office for Restorative Justice Ministries is located at Scarritt Bennett Center, 1008 19th Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee; telephone: 615-329- 2279; e-mail: email@example.com.
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Restorative Justice Ministries is planning five annual conference training events in the United States in 1999 and 2000.
August 12-14, 1999 Los Angeles, California
September 9-11, 1999 Nashville, Tennessee
September 16-18, 1999 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
September 23-25, 1999 Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
January 13-15, 2000 New York, New York
The theme of these events will be "Seeking Justice: The Emerging Role of the Church in Doing Justice in our Communities." The events will include worship, community building, study of biblical foundations and Wesleyan tradition, workshops, networking, and a global example of restorative-justice ministry. A Restorative Justice Ministries Workbook is in production.
The theoretical framework of restorative justice is being applied to many global contexts where mounting tensions, major civil conflicts, increased violence, and genocide have erupted. The GBGM is providing leadership to the Restorative Justice Ministries Inter-Agency Task Force by identifying partners with whom we are working who are engaged in conflict-resolution projects, restorative-justice ministries, and reconstruction programs. These global contexts include South Africa, East Africa, Northern Ireland, Palestine, Israel, Guatemala, the Philippines, and the United States. We hope that these projects will serve as models for preparing our church leaders and faith communities to provide both the spiritual leadership and the concrete skills required for doing ministries of restorative justice.
Peggy Hutchison is assistant general secretary for Global Networks and Ecumenical Relations in the Mission Contexts and Relationships program area of the General Board of Global Ministries.
Text and photographs copyright 1999 by New World Outlook: The Mission Magazine of The United Methodist Church. Used by Permission. Visit New World Outlook Online at http://gbgm-umc.org/nwo/.
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