Creating a More Just Community
In response to the “Race to Equity” report produced by the Wisconsin Council for Children and Families, the many shootings by police of unarmed African-Americans across the country, and statewide mass incarceration, the Creating a More Just Community working group emerged at Grace Episcopal Church in 2015.
A number of the group’s members participated in recent advocacy days organized by WISDOM, the Wisconsin Council of Churches, and other local and statewide organizations.
As we reflected on our experiences at those days, we began to wonder whether Grace might be a place where ongoing engagement with legislators and legislative staff around issues of faith, values, and justice might occur.
This summer, we have begun to explore whether such engagement is possible and what successful engagement might look like. Our initial conversations have included Peter Bakken (Coordinator for Public Policy of Wisconsin Council of Churches) and David Liners, Executive Director of WISDOM.
Both were excited by our interest, offered a number of ideas for us to pursue, and encouraged us to continue the conversation.
Among the ideas both men mentioned was a regular “prayer breakfast” or some other informal opportunity to bring together legislators and staff with people of faith. The primary goal of such an event would be to build relationships and to seek common ground on issues of concern. The working group is very intrigued by this idea and will explore its feasibility in the coming months.
We hope to build on the excitement and energy that our initial conversations have generated. We have begun to outline a number of “next steps” in this effort. These include:
Engaging other communities of faith (especially inviting downtown churches to join this effort and take advantage of the connections they have);
Engaging clergy in the broader community;
Publicizing our efforts in all three Episcopal dioceses;
Getting to know our legislators;
Research on whether these sorts of conversations or initiatives are taking place elsewhere in the country (especially inquiring of Episcopal churches in close proximity to State Capitols);
Soliciting input from the community on the idea of a “prayer breakfast” and developing a plan to initiate the event.
Use of Space
One of the priorities identified during our recent renovation process was the desire to use our space to connect with the wider community. We think this is an amazing opportunity to do just that. For it to be successful, we need the support and engagement of Grace members and friends.
If you have ideas or would like to get involved in this effort,
please contact one of the members of the
Creating More Just Community working group:
Mary Ann Cook