Fifteen-hundred people from Minnesota’s faith communities attended the Do Justice Conference with Bryan Stevenson presented by Transform Minnesota on November 8, and An Evening with Bryan Stevenson later that evening.
Stevenson is an acclaimed civil rights attorney, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, and author of Just Mercy.
His words will continue to echo in my mind for years to come…He gave two addresses to a packed sanctuary at Christ Presbyterian Church on the need for Americans to pursue racial justice and reconciliation in our country, which has been marred by a history of racial terror and injustice.
“Our nation needs a truth and reconciliation process. As people of faith, you’ve got to have the truth first, before you get to the reconciliation,” Stevenson said. “My prayer is that we will be truth tellers when it comes to confronting this reality that we see around us, that it will lead us to get proximate, change narratives, stay hopeful, and do uncomfortable things.”
May this gathering propel us toward greater unity as one church and greater shalom in our communities“Bryan Stevenson spoke with power, authority, humility, and hope. His words will continue to echo in my mind for years to come. I am thankful for the opportunity to sit under his teaching,” said Cesar Castillejos, Hope Church in Richfield.
“It was so encouraging to see so many faith community leaders from all over the Twin Cities at the Do Justice Conference. May this gathering propel us toward greater unity as one church and greater shalom in our neighborhoods and communities,” said Pastor T.C. Moore, Roots Covenant Church in St. Paul.
…the reason why we need to work on reconciliation, because God is about justice.
The Do Justice Conference started with a biblical framework for why God is on a mission for justice in our world, presented by Dr. Kenneth Young, Systematic Theology professor at University of Northwestern St. Paul.
“Justice is the order that existed in creation before the fall of sin. We messed it up, so now God is about fixing it. Justice is the end game. It’s the target, it’s the place where God is putting the world back together. That’s the reason why we need to work on reconciliation, because God is about justice,” said Dr. Young.
“Dr. Young brought his message so that all could understand and learn, no matter what level of experience someone had in studying the Bible,” said Marsha, a Tree House Volunteer.
we’ve got to commit ourselves to get close to the poor, the neglected, the incarcerated, the condemned, those who are suffering.Dr. Young pointed to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians as a vision for a new humanity.
“That’s the reason we need to do racial reconciliation; it’s a call of blessing of mind, of purpose, of thinking so that we can become a new humanity. That’s the mission of God,” said Dr. Young.
Later in the keynote address, Bryan Stevenson shared how the Apostle Paul inspires his work of defending prisoners on death row, and poor people who are incarcerated.
“Somebody’s got to be advocating for the Saul’s of the world, so that they can become the Pauls that we need to hear from,” said Stevenson.
“If we want to do justice, we’ve got to commit ourselves to get close to the poor, the neglected, the incarcerated, the condemned, those who are suffering. Our faith comes to life in proximity to the poor,” said Stevenson.
“It was such an incredible reminder of our need to get proximate to those on the margins and wake up to the narratives I know are installed in my own mind.
Injustice prevails where hopelessness persists. Your hope is your super power…Let’s be hopeful that God is going to do a work in this community in the Twin Cities,” said David Morrow, Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities.
Stevenson encouraged the Church to work to change the narratives of our society and to stay hopeful.
“Fear and anger are the essential ingredients for injustice and oppression,” said Stevenson. “Injustice prevails where hopelessness persists. Your hope is your super power.”
“Stevenson’s message really pulled at my heartstrings to reach out and touch individuals and make them real people,” said Rev. Michael Gonzalez, St. James AME Church.
Stevenson challenged people of faith need to position themselves in inconvenient and uncomfortable places.
“We’re called to be a community of broken people put together by God’s love and grace, and position ourselves near those who are suffering.”