Back to school season conjures up images of backpacks, school supplies and shopping for a new school year. Some churches, you’ll find, hold back-to-school drives to ensure the students in their neighborhoods have enough supplies to start the year. But there’s one population of students that are often left out: those in juvenile detention.
We call on United Methodists and all people of good will to support the victims of this and all acts of violence, to work to end racism and hatred, to seek peace with justice, and to live the prayer that our Lord gave us, that God’s ‘kingdom come, (and) will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.’ — Bishop Warner Brown Jr., president of the Council of Bishops, in a letter to African Methodist Episcopal bishops
Peace with Justice. Those words could be an empty, everyday slogan. Yet for 27 year-old Meagan Gaddis, Peace with Justice stood for something extraordinary—especially after her release from prison.
Earlier this year, Meagan penned a letter to express her gratitude for Exodus House, a temporary residential project for people who are re-entering society after incarceration. Exodus House is a ministry of the Oklahoma conference of The United Methodist Church and financially supported by the Peace with Justice grant program.
What happens when open hearts celebrate diversity and the value of all people? Rocio Martinez can tell you. Living in Nashville, Tennessee, she had no immigration status and was about to have her first child. She visited a church that offered a summer English as a second-language (ESL) class. These classes could help her take a step forward as she continued her efforts to become a legal citizen.
She could not believe that a group of people who did not even know her would invest their time to help her. “Why are these people teaching English?” she wondered. “Who pays them?”