On June 8-9 people gathered from across the country to participate in Restore 117 at Judson University. Restore 117 is a practical conference designed to encourage and equip leaders in doing justice through legal ministry. While these leaders spend their year helping to restore others this conference seeks to restore them as they worship, hear from main stage speakers and participate in practical workshops.
Sarah Sullivan with Jericho Road Legal Ministry kicked off the event with a great testimony of God’s restorative work. Watch her video above, posted to the ministry Facebook site. Sarah serves neighbors in Jackson Beach Florida many of whom are homeless veterans.
Chris Purnell took the main stage to restore justice through God’s heart. There are many ways to talk about justice and advancing justice for all, but understanding God’s heart beats for justice roots us in the right way to effectively serve others.
Chris is the Executive Director of Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic in Indianapolis, the largest legal aid ministry in the country. Follow our Facebook page to hear audio of Chris’s talk in the weeks ahead.
Chris was followed by a panel of legal ministry leaders discussing challenges and opportunities in restoring neighbors trapped in legal injustice.
Lori Young (left) from Trinity Legal Clinic in Oklahoma City, OK, Killa Marti (center) from Clarkston Gospel Justice Center in Clarkston, GA and Eric Nelson, from Administer Justice in Elgin, IL provided helpful insights and experiences.
The panel was followed by workshops on common legal issues encountered by low-income neighbors, reporting on outputs and outcomes through justice center online, and understanding your leadership DNA and how that impacts fundraising, volunteer recruitment and team building.
Restore Justice for All
The pre-conference was designed for practitioners and those considering doing legal ministry while the main conference was helpful for anyone engaged in practical justice work. The main conference kicked off with LaVon Koerner challenging us to look not at how big the giants of injustice are but how big our God is. Out of the story of David and Goliath he challenged us, “Is there not a cause?” And is God not big enough to advance His purpose through willing servants.
Worship surrounded the evening as Harvey Carey took to the stage. Harvey is a powerful speaker and senior pastor of Citadel of Faith in Detroit, Michigan. Harvey reminded us that before we can restore others, we ourselves must be restored. Self-care and soul care are necessary before you can effectively help someone else.
Saturday continued to restore justice
Saturday morning provided a go and see opportunity for some to visit a legal ministry in action. Others were blessed by worship and Ted Talk sensation, Joe Abraham. Joe brought new insights to the story of Zacchaeus. Not only the song – which in India finishes with Jesus going to his house for tea – but in seeing ourselves as people of privilege with an invitation to use our resources to bless the poor.
Building on Joe’s talk Michelle Warren, Christian Community Development Association’s policy advocate, took to the stage to challenge lawyers to use their position to help change systems that impact people. Restoring one person is good. We must begin with understanding our neighbor by getting proximate to them. But once we know our neighbor, loving them will mean addressing the systems that prevent them from flourishing.
Testimonies to restore justice
Over lunch Nancy Cogar provided a powerful testimony of how God is using her, her pastor, and others to restore neighbors at Chattanooga Gospel Justice Center in Tennessee. You can meet Nancy from this video encouraging other lawyers to get involved in legal ministry.
Powerful workshops were presented by amazing business leaders like Mary Ann Mings with Suncast Corporation, David Dillon with Together Chicago and Earl Seals with N2 Publishing. These leaders demonstrated how business can be on the front lines to restore justice for employees, customers, and their community.
Other panelist included a powerful discussion on human trafficking led by Congressman Randy Hultgren, Kimberly Fay with Administer Justice, Anne Polenchek with Project New Name and Miguel Keberlein with Metropolitan Family Services.
There was a panel discussion on mass incarceration led by Cliff Nellis with Lawndale Christian Legal Center, Michelle Alexander and Anne Rand with Willow Creek. I was blessed to close the conference discussing the role of prayer in the work of justice. We cannot restore justice apart from Jesus. We recognize injustice is the work of our enemy and fighting him requires prayer.
Join us next year
Restore 117 is a reminder that no one does justice alone. Join a group of like-minded Christ followers who seek to restore one another through encouragement and support and get equipped to restore others.
Save the date of June 7-8, 2019 at Judson University.