Category Archives: Ministry

Faith Communities for Peace

Faith Communities for Peace is the new initiative in partnership with the Peacemaking Coordinating Team and Point One North Consulting. In this initiative, we introduce and guide churches through the process of supporting the Peacemaking Circle process that works with court-involved juveniles in King County.

Did you know that King County Juvenile Court is currently piloting Peacemaking Circles as an alternative and community-based way to resolve some of its juvenile felony cases? This reduces incarceration, fosters healing for both victims and offenders, and affords a profound opportunity for transformation. This is the Gospel in action and it’s unfolding right here in our own backyard. Faith communities are needed to expand our network of circle providers. Would your church like to be involved? We’ll begin by transforming ourselves using this tool.

QUESTIONS?

Contact for Protestant and Interfaith Communities: Rev. Terri Stewart, (425) 531-1756 or YCC-Chaplain@thechurchcouncil.org

Contact for Catholic Communities: Joe Cotton, (206) 382-4847 or joe.cotton@seattlearch.org

Schedule of Meetings:

January 25: Ebenezer AMEZ, Union & 23rd, Seattle (confirmed)

March 29: Sky Urban Ministries; 879 Rainier Ave N A-100, Renton (confirmed)

May 17:

July 19: Bryn Mawr UMC, 8016 S 116th St, Seattle (tentative)

September 20:

November 22: Federal Way UMC, 29645 51st Ave S, Auburn (tentative)

Schedule of Trainings 

January 25-27: Church of the Ascension, 2330 Viewmont Way, Seattle, WA 98199 (confirmed)

February 23-25:

March 23-25: Sky Urban Ministries, Approved, 879 Rainier Ave N A-100, Renton, WA 98057 (confirmed)

April 13-15 (Keeper Training):

April 26-28:

May 24-26: 

June 22-24:

August 3-5 (Advanced Keeper Training):

September 27-29: 

October 19-21:

November 16-18: 

December 7-9 (Keeper Training):

 

Christmas Thank You Note Excerpts

This afternoon, I was handed a pile of thank you notes for my small part in helping the youth in detention have a better Christmas. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and amazed at the honesty of the youth. I’d like to share a few excerpts.

“You gave us a better Christmas and more hope.”

“This was my second time having Christmas in my 14 years of life. And it was one of the best ones.”

“You don’t know how happy it makes me to know someone has taken the time out of their life to make me a happy person on Christmas.”

“It was so touching to know someone cares about the ones that sometime feel forgotten.”

“I have not had a Christmas in 5 years. You guys made my day with the gifts you got. I really am thankful.”

“Growing up Christmas never meant much to me. It was just another day of another month of another year. I’ve found that I don’t look forward to this time of year. Being in jail I thought this time of year could not get much worse but yet waking up on Christmas morning I still had hope. Hope because I had heard what Christmas is like in here but I did not want to let myself believe it…I cannot begin to describe to you the overwhelming joy and happiness that came over me. Because of you my Christmas was made and to me it did not matter what gifts I got, it was more meaningful to me that someone cared enough to help someone else out.”

That’ll preach.

Amen?

Supporting the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition

ImageThe Mentors in Mission program is in need of financial support. We have started an indiegogo campaign to raise funds (see below). You can donate here:  http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/mentors-in-mission/x/7440980

We are planning (actually have already implemented some) the following:

$4,200 for Program Support for 12 months

  • monthly support of the program
  • clearing background checks of mentors
  • recruiting mentors and youth

$4,500 for Stipend for Youth for 12 months

  • Teaching a new economic model
  • $75 per month for youth, $900 per year, per youth enrolled
  • Capacity: five youth in this model

$500 for Program Supplies for the Garden and for Games (Chess Supplies)

Prison State

I feel like the PBS Frontline special, “Prison State,” captures my experience very well. The young woman, Demetria, is every youth I have encountered. The best point that the special makes is:

“We need to distinguish who we are mad at and who we are afraid of.”

If we rehabilitated the folks we are “mad” at, we would slash the rate of imprisonment. Are we really afraid of a non-violent drug user? A youth who habitually is truant?

The stories are just tragic. Generations of imprisonment. We complain that the families are “broken” and that is where the fault lies, but we created the broken families through a process of institutional racism that locked up fathers starting generations ago.

The sins of society are visited on the children.

To watch the special, go here:  http://video.pbs.org/video/2365235229/

Source: "No Place for Kids," Annie E. Casey Foundation
Source: “No Place for Kids,” Annie E. Casey Foundation

You Can Do It: A Good Friday Homily

Delivered at Liberation UCC in Seattle on 4/18/2014-Good Friday.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour, the disciple received her as his own. -John 19:26-27, translation, mine

What if every time we left a vulnerable, grieving member of our family behind, we turned to another beloved and said, “Please, receive my family as your family.” But we are not taught to do this! Our culture has us holding our chin up! Standing on our own two feet! You should learn to be self-reliant!

Have you heard these messages? “You can do it if you try!”

Recently, as in Tuesday, I heard similar words come from a youth’s mouth. He is 15, from a marginalized area in Seattle, and struggling in detention. He and I were talking about what his next steps were and what his dreams of life were. He described a future where he could have a house that his family lived in—his mother and brothers and where he could have a game room and a workout room. Maybe, it would be a game room – slash – workout room—that was negotiable.

Taking that as his vision for his life, we talked about accomplishments that would enable him to achieve his vision of a cared for, stable, ordinary family and house. He expressed the thought that he should get a job now while his rent was free so he could save all his money and buy a house when he was 18. He could do it! All by himself! All he needed was a job at the Boys and Girls Club that pays $600 per month and he’s good. He can do it if he tries. It is all in his hands.

Never mind that he has a criminal record. Never mind that he can’t do math or science and probably will not be able to graduate high school. Never mind that he has nobody in his community to help him—I asked. None of that matters. He has bought the cultural ideal of independence and self-reliance.

The question is, what comes next? What will happen when this youth cannot get a bank loan, a full time job, or a GED? He will blame himself, not the systems that have failed him. And in blaming himself, he will be filled with shame and sadness.

In these words of Christ, we could hear not a nice moment of care-taking between beloved disciple and mother, but a command of how we should care for one another, especially those who are vulnerable. These words of Christ call out to us to receive our vulnerable youth, those affected by incarceration, gangs, and substance abuse.

What difference would it make to a vulnerable youth to have some behold them! See them! Love them! Receive them!

Interestingly, another possibility examining the word for “receive” in Greek elaben is the word “catch.” Doesn’t that really bring a different feeling to this? We are not only being called to receive the vulnerable among us, but to catch them. Provide a safety net that will enable them to grow into all that they were created to be.

Jesus said, “Woman, behold your son—and you—behold your mother.”

What if we said, What if we said, “People, behold your children—and you—behold your people.” What a difference it would make.

Amen? Amen!

Rev. Terri Stewart

Being a Remembrancer

I found this to be spot on!

“Prison Chaplain — a ‘remembrancer’
In such a context, I think, the easy distinction between ministry that is unquestioningly supportive and one that is prophetically transforming does not actually make a great deal of sense. It’s true that, because of the isolation of people from their usual support systems, confrontation, and the explicit call to repentance or change, are not likely to be helpful, to say the least; they may have short term effect — but only as another way of offering a new and ‘safe’ identity in a strange land. But a ministry that asks no questions will not, as I’ve said, bring people nearer to what will genuinely feed or sustain them. The notion that seems to me to capture what most matters here is that of a ministry of ‘reminding’. The chaplain, to use an old fashioned word, is a ‘remembrancer’. Central to a ministry conceived in these terms is the patience to explore the vulnerability that underlies the pressure towards reinventing yourself in the way that new institutions encourage. Central also is the willingness to work with someone to bring to light a vital sense of what in fact has made them the person they are, what still shapes reactions and expressed instincts.”

http://www.justicereflections.org.uk/pdf-files/jr7.pdf