Healing & Justice Ministry

Tell the Truth; Proclaim the Dream; Follow Jesus’ Way of Love; Repair the Breach
Church of the Ascension Seattle rests on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish people. We acknowledge the ancestors of this place and understand that we are here because of the sacrifices forced upon them. By recognizing these communities, we honor their legacy, their lives, and their descendants.

What is the Healing & Justice Ministry?

Healing and Justice Ministry. What is it? It’s a ministry whose premise is that the worship of God calls us into a servanthood that works to build a beloved community. That is a future world transformed by non-violence, healing relationships and justice. Many of you are familiar with Becoming Beloved Community presentations given by Laurie, Kristine, Linda and Don on Civil Rights Pilgrimages, city initiatives around houselessness and affordable housing and Book Clubs on anti-racism. You may have participated in the 2020-2021 Sacred Ground anti-racism curriculum with us. Yet, something new is happening among us. A new ministry that doesn’t exactly fit under Outreach Ministries or Adult Formation Ministries. Rather  
a new ministry that explores the interaction of our own faith and justice. 

The Healing and Justice Ministry will be creating events for our community, as well as advertising other local opportunities, so that we may continue to learn, engage in discussions, and to be a part of creating a more just society. 

A calendar will be shared with you here, and be sure to check our updates in Ascension’s weekly e-News as well. 

Contact: Laurie Weckel, laweckel@gmail.com

Social Justice Themes

We have curated a collection of prayers, books, films, events and websites that focus on a topic that changes monthly. Please visit these links to dive deeper into the history and issues of social justice in these different communities. Below you will find the current month’s Healing and Justice resources.

Criminal Justice Reform

September Theme

Our Prayer

Liberating God, You freed Israel from captivity, so we call upon Your freeing love to now ransom us
and our society from our many layers of imprisonment. Ignorance, complacency and arrogance
plague us. Despair, addiction, and fear constrain us. We feel powerless. We need Your grace.
Bless our sisters and brothers held behind bars and walls, and their families. Bless anguished crime
victims and their loved ones. Bless those who work in our prison system, our courthouses,
our hospitals and treatment centers. May none ever feel forgotten. May all be open to change.
There is much that we overlook or do not understand: conditions that create troubling behavior; the
emphasis on revenge instead of rehabilitation; unfounded fear of those we see as “other”; how to
treat mental illness; the role wealth plays in outcomes for the accused; mass incarceration as a
continuation of slavery; the suffering of children whose parents are imprisoned; unfair charging and
sentencing; housing and job discrimination faced by former captives. Help us to see and to learn.
Liberating God, we ask for compassion and mercy. We ask for hearts that forgive with humility. We
want to love ourselves and others as You love us.

O God, free us from fear. Free us from the need for revenge. Grant us the grace to reconcile and
to see ourselves in others. Give us courage to speak truth when few want to hear it.
May we be instruments of Your peace and healing.
May we be instruments of Your love.
Make us Bearers of Your Light.

(Adapted from C. Heying and M. Hemlock)

Resources & Action

Event: Criminal Justice Reform

Attend the Healing and Justice speaker event on Sunday, Sept. 25th at 3pm in McLauchlan Hall. Hear from Eugene Youngblood, a facilitator with the Freedom Project. Eugene was arrested in 1991 at 18 years of age and released in March of 2021 at the age of 48 after serving 29 and a half years. He was set to spend the rest of his life in prison but in June 2019, the clemency and pardons board
voted unanimously to recommend release after finding that his personal transformation and the work he did with other prisoners was extraordinary. Listen to him speak about his experiences in the criminal justice system and the need for change.

The New Jim Crow

(The New Jim Crow) has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations motivated by Michelle Alexander’s unforgettable argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” As the Birmingham News proclaimed, it is “undoubtedly the most important book published in this century about the U.S.” 

"Just Mercy"

By Brian Stevenson
Just Mercy (adapted for young adults) Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political
machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever. Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has
defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice. Link to White Paper from Bryan Stevenson

"Both sides of the bars: How mass incarceration punishes families"

By Leah Wang
Government survey results illuminate the broader consequences of locking up people with children.


Criminal Justice Facts


The Freedom Project

Freedom Project works alongside the community to dismantle the
institution of mass incarceration and heal its traumatic effects on
individuals directly impacted by incarceration, on their loved ones, and on our community. (freedomprojectwa.org)

"Tell Me More With Kelly Corrigan"

Anthony Ray Hinton | KPBS Public Media
Hinton spent nearly 30 years on Alabama’s death row for a crime he did not commit. When acclaimed civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson was assigned his case, they spent 16 years fighting before winning a unanimous reversal of his case
in the United States Supreme Court. Anthony shares the important lessons of compassion and friendship he learned in the midst of great injustice.

Why Do We Have Prisons


"Cyntoia's Story: Portraits of Girls in the Criminal Justice System

This module takes a look at a teen girl currently under the supervision of the criminal justice system; she is serving a life sentence in an adult state prison in Tennessee. Viewers get snapshots of her childhood and family and some of the adversity she faced in her life.

"Since I Been Down

Meet Kimonti Carter. Former president and current member of an
over 40-year Washington State prisoner-initiated program, the
Black Prisoners’ Caucus. At 34, Kimonti founded TEACH (Taking
Education and Creating History), a remarkably innovative prisoner
education program. Kimonti and a group of his peers maneuver
through a non-negotiable pathway to joining gangs as early as
11-years-old. This is a community profoundly impacted by the city's disinvestment in housing, education, and employment as well as our policies in the 1990's. The film, told by the people who have lived these conditions, unravels intimate stories from interviews brought to life through archival footage, cinema verité discussions, masquerade, and dance , unravelling why children commit violent
crime and how these children – now adults – are breaking free from their fate by creating a model of justice that is transforming their lives, our humanity and a quality of life for all our children.

Listening Opportunities

Reformed: A Criminal Justice Podcast on Apple Podcasts A podcast series exploring
the criminal justice system, mass incarceration, and criminal justice reform.
At Liberty Podcast | American Civil Liberties Union (aclu.org) At Liberty is a weekly
podcast that explores the most pressing civil rights and civil liberties questions of our
time. This podcast can be searched by topic. For Criminal Law Reform, they have
episodes called: ‘The Overcriminalization of America’, ‘up with an Incarcerated Parent’,
‘Poetry, Prison and the Pandemic’ . (www.aclu.org)
A new website is available for graduates of the “Sacred Ground” program with additional resources for learning and action.

Sacred Ground

This is a race dialogue series designed for these times. It is an attempt to be responsive to the profound challenges that currently exist in our society. It is focused on the challenges that swirl around issues of race and racism, as well as the difficult but respectful and transformative dialogue we need to have with each other about them. It invites participants to walk back through history in order to peel away the layers that brought us to today, and to do so in a personal way, reflecting on family histories and stories, as well as important narratives that shape the collective American story. It holds the vision of beloved community as a guiding star – where all people are honored and protected and nurtured as beloved children of God, where we weep at one another’s pain and seek one another’s flourishing.

Episcopal Church of the Ascension
2330 Viewmont Way West
Seattle, WA 98199
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