These famous words, attributed to scholar and activist Cornel West, remain just as true today as when he first uttered them. In that same spirit, Lincoln / Lancaster County’s new justice ministry organization, Justice in Action, aims to “love our neighbors” by taking direct and tangible action to eradicate injustices in our community.
The interfaith, non-denominational, non-profit formally launched on Thursday, November 10th, 2022. Over 20 faith communities in Lancaster County gathered for the “Community Problems Assembly,” which served as both a kick-off, as well as a productive work session during which the groundwork was laid for the future of the organization. The attendees voted on the permanent name, executive committee members, and the first two community problems the group will take action to remedy.
Over the course of 88 small group “Listening Sessions” in and around Lincoln, 627 participants were asked, “What problems in our local community keep you up at night?” The justice ministry team collected and consolidated the answers, looked for recurring themes, then narrowed down the list to the ten issues most frequently mentioned. At the meeting on November 10, almost 300 attendees cast their final votes to determine the two issues that our new Justice in Action organization will focus on first. Those are mental health and criminal justice reform.
Those are huge categories – so what does it mean for us to tackle these issues? Our next step is to form research teams to dive into each issue, and identify specific issues within them that would have an impact on the health of our communities and those who live in them. Out of that research will come specific proposals for change. We may propose accountability where we find neglect. We may propose efficiency where we find waste. We may propose new, fresh ideas where we find stagnation. We may propose redemption where we find falleness. It depends on what the research reveals. This is just the beginning.
Put these dates on your calendar, and bring a friend or five! Part of community organizing is about getting people involved – without people standing behind these efforts, literally, we can do nothing.
County jails are the front door to mass incarceration. A growing number of people are placed or kept in the Lancaster County Jail for nonviolent offenses because the local system doesn't have sufficient tools, discretion, or community-based alternatives to address their needs while maintaining public safety.
People experiencing mental health issues in Lancaster County are often unable to access timely and appropriate care and often end up interacting with the criminal justice system which is costly and robs them of the opportunity to receive the ongoing care they need to lead productive and positive lives.
Our Team Leaders:
Laura Buehner, Gary & Wanda Hein, Tom & Tammy Hanson, Mike & Jodi Kocher, Alissa Ries, Jen Yoder
Elizabeth Graverholt & Olivia Butts