The Faith & Justice Summit Series was launched in 2016 to provide spaces where we could focus attention on under-addressed justice issues in New England, celebrate the work being pioneered by faith-motivated organizations, explore how the church can most strategically be involved, and connect with God’s heart and wisdom in a way that would shape our hearts and minds for future action.
The first Summit focused on Human Trafficking, one of the most horrific injustices of our time, and something that’s happening in the cities, suburbs and rural areas of every New England state. A movement has emerged that is addressing human trafficking at every level, and there are many Christian leaders and organizations whom God has called and given strategic roles in the movement. What a thrill to see 21 faith-motivated organizations gathered under the same roof, sharing, exploring, celebrating, equipping, and networking with each other, in a way that unified and strengthened our work moving forward. It was obvious this needed to become an annual gathering point. The second year, 32 organizations participated, and it was another powerful time of connecting, inspiring and equipping.
As the Summit on Human Trafficking emerged, we were also interviewing prison ministry leaders in the region, learning where the greatest unmet needs were. To a person, they shared that the “next frontier” in prison ministry is to develop “reentry support” that helps discharged prisoners create healthy social networks, get meaningful employment and reunite with their families. Studies have shown that when these supports are NOT available, 80% will end up committing crimes that land them back in prison (called “recidivism”). When these supports ARE in place, the recidivism rates drop below 10%. The church is uniquely designed, and has a massive opportunity, to change the narrative, and change individuals, their families and their communities. With that in mind, we’re now adding the second part of the series: the Faith & Justice Summit on Reentry Support. Similar to the anti-trafficking movement, there are faith-motivated organizations pioneering reentry support in New England, and we’ll be coming together to celebrate, share, explore, network and mobilize.
At Vision New England, we believe that, as core aspects of our discipleship, followers of Jesus do justice and love mercy. We embrace the example of the Samaritan, who saw the robbed and near-dead man on the side of the road and took action that rescued and restored the man. We share with broken people the love that set US free, and we fight to change systems that perpetuate brokenness; and in doing so, we help people see a little more clearly the God who stepped into human history and laid down His life so we could have life.