Restorative Justice Ministry Team
The Restorative Justice Ministry Team at Unity Church-Unitarian is a group of people committed to promoting Restorative Justice principles. It is organized to support people working toward a correctional philosophy that is redemptive, rehabilitative, and restorative, by engaging the people impacted by crime in a mutual effort to understand and respond to the needs of everyone involved. Restorative Justice uses processes that strive to move our response to crime from “getting even” through punishment to “getting well” through shared dialog and action.
"We must be the change we wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi
Restorative Justice is a Paradigm Shift
When applied to the criminal justice system, Restorative Justice represents a paradigm shift in how criminal behavior is approached. The following chart illustrates this shift (adapted from The Little Book of Restorative Justice, by Howard Zehr):
Unity’s Restorative Justice Ministry Team began in the fall of 2003 with a stated mission of pursuing social justice by “engaging team members, the Unity congregation, and the broader community at large in healing conversations and activities.”
Unity member Louise Wolfgramm gave a sermon describing the work of Amicus. She directs this local non-profit supporting men and women in or recently released from Minnesota prisons and jails). Within weeks after her presentation, a group of Unity members began meeting to discuss shared concerns about the criminal justice system in the United States. Later this group became a community ministry team of Unity Church.
Team members work to improve the lives of people affected by criminal behaviors (their own or others’). Its centerpiece is the use of Peace Keeping Circles (derived from Native American tradition) to model and encourage inclusive and restorative conversations. Mentoring and providing for the needs of those recently released are other activities.
Service to the congregation and community is addressed by partnering with Amicus, the Team’s community partner, providing volunteers trained as circle facilitators and personal mentors as needed in local prisons and jails.
Education efforts include presentations about restorative justice, as well as Peace Keeping Circle training sessions and providing information about Restorative Justice activities and service opportunities to the Unity community.
Forums and events in the community enable team members to give voice to inmates, ex-offenders, and people impacted by crime. This advocacy has helped raise awareness of the impact the criminal justice system has on people in our own community.
Team members often work on restorative justice issues as individual opportunities arise, in addition to their collective efforts.
The Team meets monthly, providing an opportunity for participants to share stories and reflections about their experiences doing restorative justice work. Meetings generally follow a Peace Keeping Circle process; every person is given an opportunity to be heard, and every participant has an equal voice in decision making. During meetings, team members and Amicus representatives plan activities around volunteer opportunities available within the wider community. Individual members contribute time and energy in areas of interest to them.
For more information about Restorative Justice or the Restorative Justice Ministry Team, please contact Lisa Friedman by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-228-1456 x107.
Than you for a successful Winter Warm Up Drive
Unity’s Racial and Restorative Justice Team thanks you for the wonderful response to this year’s Winter Warm Up Drive. You made a difference! Amicus reports that before Unity’s drive started, their warm up supply closet was empty. It is now full, and the warm up supplies and bus passes are going out the door daily to those who need them.
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