Five restorative justice programs for youths in Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Africa receive support through United Methodist Special Sunday
The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) approved $131,422 in Human Relations Day grants when directors met in Arlington, Virginia for their spring meeting this month.
The grants went to five programs: two in the South Central Jurisdiction, one in the Southeastern Jurisdiction, and two in Africa.
Grant funding comes through Human Relations Day, one of the six Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church. Human Relations Day strengthens United Methodist outreach to communities, encouraging social justice and work with at-risk youth.
The General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) distributes 10% of the receipts for youth offender rehabilitation programs. The General Board of Global Ministries distributes the remaining funds for its Community Developers and United Methodist Voluntary Services programs.
Recipients of Human Relations Day grants are in Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Liberia, and in the Central Congo, West Africa, and Africa Central Conferences.
Juvenile Mediation Program
The Juvenile Mediation Program (JUMP) of Lutheran Episcopal Services in Jackson, Mississippi, received $30,000. This restorative justice program involves a partnership with Metro Jackson County Court judges and the Mississippi Department of Human Services to initiate peer mediation practices for juvenile offenders.
In approving the grant, the GBCS directors said the program demonstrates strong institutional and professional partnerships, both ecumenical and United Methodist. They pointed out that JUMP has a particular focus on United Methodist Children's Homes, which houses juvenile ex-offenders. Grant monies will go toward non-personnel start-up costs.
The Liberia Conference in West Africa received $15,000 for Children Empowered for Sustainability Program (CESPRO). The grant went to the conference's Department of Children's Ministries.
CESPRO, based in Monrovia, is a ministry of rehabilitation to poor urban and rural children, including orphans, refugees, and ex-combatant child soldiers. These children struggle in a cycle of addiction and the sex trade, due to years of civil war.
CESPRO focuses on life skills rehabilitation, counseling, HIV-AIDS prevention, micro-enterprise, and reconciliation across ethnic groups and civil factions. Grant monies will go to program expenses. The United Methodist Church in Germany has demonstrated consistent support for CESPRO, according to GBCS directors.
Exodus House: Hope and Community for the Lost and Vulnerable is one of the Criminal Justice and Mercy Ministries of the Oklahoma Conference. It will receive $31,422.
Exodus House has transitional residential treatment missions in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The facilities provide re-entry assistance to ex-offenders and their families. There also are recovery treatment ministries with special consideration toward legal accountability, self-reliance, life skills development, and family reunification, which have extremely high retention rate and low recidivist rates.
Legislative advocacy at the state level supplements the program, which demonstrated strong conference and foundation support. Human Relations Day monies will support Exodus House operating costs.
Twenty thousand dollars will go to a Kentucky United Methodist community center, Lighthouse Promise. Its Boys 2 Men and Government Education Program/Partner in Learning is an outreach to Newburg neighborhood in Louisville. Children in the neighborhood are at high risk because of poverty, lack of education, single-parent homes, and significant crime rates.
Boys 2 Men builds on existing Lighthouse ministries. It focuses on outings, meetings with state representatives, judges, and police, and government workshops. Human Relations Day funding will support general field trips and a reading program.
African Central Conferences
Restorative justice seminars in the Central Congo, West Africa, and Africa Central conferences will receive $35,000. In collaboration with the Central Conferences, GBCS will facilitate up to three national seminars on themes of restorative justice practices, conflict transformation and violence reduction across gender, substance abuse and related violence, and reduction of inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflict.
Grant monies will enable participant travel, lodging, and meals. Number of participants per training will be 50 young adults.
For more information and applications visit the GBCS website at http://www.umc-gbcs.org/grants. Or contact the Rev. Neal Christie, GBCS assistant general secretary for education and leadership development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.488.5611.
More information about Human Relations Day, which traditionally is celebrated on the Sunday before Martin Luther King Day in the United States, is available at umcgiving.org.