Connecting Grace

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At year end 2015, 2.2 mil of our community was incarcerated and 4.6 mil of our community was living under community supervision (probation).

Without adequate support, these persons, their families, or their victims (we, the community) are not able to successfully adjust.

Connecting Grace is an initiative of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, in partnership with the Philadelphia Leadership Foundation, that equips faith communities to be agents of healing for families affected by crime, incarceration, criminalization, and stigmatization.

The Connecting Grace Initiative offers the Healing Communities training, which equips communities of faith to:

  • Support families dealing with issues of stigma and shame associated with violence.
  • Foster nurturing relationships with the incarcerated.
  • Build a non-judgmental culture of forgiveness and reconciliation.
  • Assist citizens returning from prison to reduce their risk of recidivism by helping them build productive lives.

Why should I care?
Faith communities can play a unique role in healing individuals, families and communities devastated by crime and cycles of incarceration. We can help build a community consensus around the challenges facing families with an incarcerated loved one, as well as the individuals returning home from incarceration. Houses of worship, can serve as resources for transforming neighborhoods into places where family and social support are available to people affected by crime and incarceration. 


become a station of hope

A congregation/faith community seeking to do more in-depth work may consider becoming a Station of Hope. Stations of Hope are houses of worship with outreach ministries offering a renewed vision of health and vitality for the formerly incarcerated, their families and communities. A congregation does not need to become a Station of Hope to complete the Healing Communities training.

Our training is designed to help the congregation understand, embrace and minister to individuals and their families who are:

  • Facing court-involved and law enforcement situations, such as arrest, trial, detention or imprisonment;
  • Processing the experience of being a victim/survivor of a crime; and
  • Navigating the challenges around community/family reconciliation and reintegration.

Grounded in the principles of unconditional love, transformation and service, Healing Communities training prepares your faith community to do the healing work of reconciliation between those who have caused harm; those who have been hurt; and the community-at-large.

We are excited for you and elated about your desire to become our next 'Station of Hope!' 

Healing Communities
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon us; the Lord has sent us to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.” (Isaiah 61:1).


curriculum

The Connecting Grace Initiative is a five-part training based on the Healing Communities curriculum of the Philadelphia Leadership Foundation. It is deliverable as a one-day seminar or two-day retreat.

SESSION ONE:
FAITH AND FORGIVENESS—A TRUE STORY
Explores the qualities of forgiveness and mercy through the experience of an individual whose life was irrevocably changed by violence

SESSION TWO:
WHY DO WE CARE? CRIME AND INCARCERATION IN AMERICA
Examines America’s record on imprisonment and its disproportionate affect on people of color

SESSION THREE:
CREATING A HEALING COMMUNITY—THE ROLE OF FAITH LEADERS
Considers various approaches faith leaders can take to inform members about the issues and equip them for service

SESSION FOUR:
CREATING A HEALING COMMUNITY—AGUIDE FOR VOLUNTEERS
Familiarizes participants with the criminal justice process and identifies sources of support for incarcerated persons and their families

SESSION FIVE:
EXPANDING THE CIRCLE OF HEALING THROUGH ADVOCACY
Examines policy shifts in Washington D.C. and describes ways faith communities can affect public policy