Shaping Ministry to Provide Emancipatory Hope for Women Who Have Been Formally Incarcerated Open Access

Ford, Clarence (Spring 2021)

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During the late spring/early summer of 2015 I found myself traveling across the state of Texas speaking to members of the five regions of the Eighth Episcopal District of the CME Church on matters of social justice. After traveling to two regions I received a call from a former coworker who shared a chilling, but all-to-familiar, story. A former classmate of his daughter at Prairie View A&M had just been found dead in police custody. The young lady was a Prairie View Alumnus and had recently accepted a position there and had moved from Chicago back down to South Texas. Twenty-Eight year old Sandra Bland was at the dawn of the rest of what appeared to be a promising life.


What followed for me was a period of heightened focus on African-American women who found themselves engaged with the criminal justice system. Some suffered the indignity of public beatings while others were assaulted in the confines of central lockup. All found themselves incarcerated and in many cases spiraling into the abyss of darkness that is our Criminal “Justice” System. The systemic issues, the cultural insensitivity to, and the resulting challenges for women and girls who have been incarcerated all serve to rob these women of their humanity leaving them in a downward spiral of hopelessness. I contend that the Church, specifically the Black Church, is called to embody and impart the emancipatory hope needed to usher formerly-incarcerated women from the margins of despair and stand as a beacon of hope against the systemic tide of injustice.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Ministry Context 4

Coming to “The Hill” 4

From Communion of the Elite to a Unified Expression. 5

Project Methods. 7

Discovery. 8

Pandemic Incarceration Rates. 8

Disproportion for Women of Color 9

A Hopeless Existence. 9

Leadership Strengths and Gaps. 11

Hopes for the Faith Community. 12

Congregational Model 13

Engaging in Research. 15

Crisis for Women of Color 15

Justice – the Mission of the Church. 17

Opening our Heart to Mental Health. 23

What Questions Linger 28

Bibliography. 29

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