Monday, February 1, 2010

One of things that I get to do several times a month is teach a Christian based recovery principles program to women prisoners. On Tuesday evenings, if time seems to be getting away from me at work, I will tell my colleagues, “I need to leave. Tonight I go to prison.” If there is a someone around who does not understand the volunteer work that I do at the prison, I usually get a strange stare to which I might respond “when I am here, I am on work release.” I have fun seeing the look on people’s faces when I make that statement. However for me volunteering at the Tennessee Prison for Women is most rewarding. I get to help women chart a path to a new life for when they leave prison. I see the role that I play as a very important one that changes the lives of many women but it does and should not stop there.

Rehabilitation is a process with several components to a renewed life. The United Methodist church is doing all it can to help youth offenders (male and female) experience rehabilitation through the Human Relations Day Youth Offender Rehabilitation program. One of six Special Sundays observed by The United Methodist Church, the Human Relations Day offering supports Community Developers, United Methodist Voluntary Service and the Youth Offender Rehabilitation Programs. These efforts aim to heal injustice in the United States and Puerto Rico by encouraging social justice and work with at-risk youth.

The church wants these young people to return to society and become contributing members. To that end, it receives offerings that offer grants for these ministries. Stan Basler, director of UM Criminal Justice and Mercy Ministries for the Oklahoma Annual Conference, is an advocate of restorative justice in the state of Oklahoma. He emphasizes that restorative justice is community-centered justice and that restorative justice in practice includes victim-offender mediation programs and drug courts.

If you are wondering why I am writing about Human Relations Day after January 17, my answer is this. January 17 is the official designated Sunday to take up offerings but you may celebrate/observe and receive your offering any time during the year. This year’s giving might have been preempted by the Haiti earthquake giving but as Bishop Gregory Palmer so wisely urged churches not to let the giving to these causes compete, I ask you to do the same. I would say that you should give all through the year. Local church members can give at their local churches by making their checks payable to their local church noting that it is an offering for Human Relations Day. They can also give online. Your local church will be credited as long as you make that selection. While we say Human Relations “Day,” the needs are here all year long and you can give at anytime.

You can learn about other ministries that your giving to Human Relations Day supports here.

Elsie Cunnigham is the director of Connectional Giving at United Methodist Communications

God is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Producer
United Methodist Communications

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