A Note to the Congregation from NPC’s Mass Incarceration Task Force:
The nationwide protests in the wake of the tragic killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police officers affords our country the unprecedented opportunity to reassess our priorities and values. As Christians, we believe that God’s breath flows through all beings and that Jesus calls us to demonstrate our faith through acts of love, justice and mercy. Many of us are prayerfully considering how to respond within this urgent and vital Kairos moment – this time of God’s appointment.
Our nation’s racial justice crisis reaches far beyond occurrences of police brutality. For generations, people of color in the United States have struggled to earn the same rights and privileges automatically granted to white people. Biases in our institutions and systems have created barriers to the pursuit of health, well-being and prosperity.
People are asking: what can I do? How can I be a part of the solution?
The focus of Nassau’s Mass Incarceration Task Force – formed over 3 years ago – has been to raise awareness about the inhumanity of racially-oppressive over-incarceration and to facilitate opportunities to make a difference. Because we are largely a congregation with little firsthand experience of poverty, violence, or incarceration, we find inspiration in the words of Just Mercy author Bryan Stevenson: “You can’t understand most of the important things from a distance. You have to get close.” We have undertaken a series of baby steps toward getting closer — including deepening our understanding through reading, video, and seminars, and most especially, through hands-on involvement.
The Mass Incarceration Task Force’s web page can be found on the NPC website here.
Below are some opportunities our task force has engaged in and recommends:
- Increase your understanding through materials offered in our bibliography on race and incarceration here.
- Educate yourself on legislation and reform efforts at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice website here.
- Sign up here for a zoom conference from 7-9 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 24: Transforming Criminal Justice in Our Lifetime: Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, 10 Years Later
- Get involved in one of the opportunities listed here, we would especially recommend:
We invite you to join us at our next MITF meeting to be held virtually at 7 p.m., Monday, September 21. For more information or to get on the MITF mailing list, please contact Anne or Jonathan.
We are grateful for Nassau Church’s history of faithful witness to God’s renewing work in the world, and we pray that we might courageously rise to the challenge of the present moment, trusting in God’s strength and wisdom.
Grace & courage,
Anne Kuhn & Jonathan C. Shenk