June 17, 2021
Lawrence, US 89 F
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Justice Matters: Justice means leaving the status quo behind (Column)

Note: The Lawrence Times is offering some space for area organizations and organizers to provide updates and attempt to reach other folks who might share their mission. This post is contributed content (i.e., not produced by the Times staff). See more in our Community Voices section, or see how to submit your own piece.

Every spring the people of Justice Matters raise our collective voice in an effort to do justice in our community. And although we don’t have the financial influence to impact the issues we address, we do have hundreds of passionate, committed folks seeking justice for some of the most vulnerable among us, as well as the insights gained from hundreds of hours of research on some of the critically important issues facing our city.

This year’s Action Assembly will take place at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, and will seek to bring forward just solutions for those experiencing homelessness, those who’ve been unnecessarily incarcerated, and for students pushed into the school-to-prison pipeline as a result of punitive practices in our public school system.

This year’s gathering will look a little different, as we gather together-yet-apart, staying in our separate vehicles, listening to the event via FM radio to ensure everyone’s safety during the ongoing pandemic.

We will recommend restorative policies consistent with the training teachers have received in our schools, instead of out-of-school suspensions. We will lift up criminal justice reforms in the midst of a national discussion on issues of racial justice. And we will offer well researched solutions to homelessness in an unprecedented time of federal investment to address such issues.

In other words, we will offer a vision for our community that boldly seeks to leave behind the status quo of pre-pandemic life, and instead embraces the hope that justice brings. A vision that says “No more!” to punitive practices in our public schools, to public policies that magnify the problems of mass incarceration, and to simply managing the concern of homelessness, but instead embraces restorative practices in our schools and in our city, and that champions our community’s ongoing efforts to functionally eliminate long-term homelessness through tried-and-true practices that have worked in communities across the country.

Pope Francis recently reflected on the opportunities found in the midst of the global pandemic, and offered a message that speaks to our heart for this year’s Action Assembly: “This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities – what we value, what we want, what we seek – and to commit to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of.” 

For months now, the people of Justice Matters have been dreaming about justice. We have reflected on what we value, what we want, and what we seek as a community. We have imagined what tangible action might look like along these lines, and envisioned a more just community in the process.

Now we invite you to come dream with us at this year’s Action Assembly on Monday, May 3, that we may commit to acting on these shared dreams of justice together. 

To register, go to justicemattersinkansas.org/2021actionassembly.

Respectfully,

Deacon Godsey and Justin Jenkins
Lead Pastor, Vintage Church; Lead Pastor, Velocity Church
Co-Presidents, Justice Matters

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