PORTLAND, OR (June 27, 2009) – Delegates to the 124th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church gave first consideration to a draft resolution on criminal justice today.
Due to a change in the process for voting on resolutions, however, a vote will not be held until next year’s Annual Meeting in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Click here to read a copy of the draft resolution.
Donn Engebretson, executive vice president, introduced the new process for the denomination to consider resolutions, which help the Covenant consider its “public discipleship.”
“Public discipleship is how we follow Christ in our world,” Engebretson said.
Engebretson said looking at past resolutions can be fascinating, but added it was “probably true” that most Covenanters have not read the resolutions from the last three years.
Engebretson said the change in process will benefit the church in two ways:
• It gives the church a chance to interact with the language of the resolution
• It provides a richer opportunity to engage with the call of the resolution
Resources and opportunities for discussion are available online, Engebretson said. To offer comments, click here.
In opening the discussion, Engebretson said, “We are not here primarily to debate the issue, but to listen to each other.”
Debbie Blue, executive minister of the Department of Compassion, Mercy, and Justice, spoke first to the issue.
“My passion for this issue comes with a lot of pain,” Blue said. She recalled having done prison ministry and doing prison bible studies, and then checking off the good deed she had done.
A visit to a prison in Angola, Louisiana, several years ago changed her world, however. “What I saw is that slavery still exists,” Blue said.
She also saw that she had followed Christ’s command to visit prisoners, but had not done so according to Micah’s injunction to “do justly, love kindness, and walk humbly before God.”
During a discussion on the resolution, delegates added that they wanted to make sure the work of law enforcement was upheld, that issues of mental illness be considered, and they also shared personal experiences with programs in which they have participated and worked.
Editor’s note: Top photo shows Debbie Blue addressing delegates – the lower photo reflects the level of attention this topic generated.