In the 1700s, John and Charles Wesley visited prisoners at Oxford Castle in England, sharing food, medicine and Holy Communion. Those early Methodists began a rich tradition that continues today.
One example is in Virginia, where Norfolk United Methodist Church developed a community-based non-profit called “Bridging the Vision.” It serves more than 85 families with a video-visitation prison ministry and 100 families with an after-school tutorial ministry.
“Bridging the Vision” is part of the Community Developers Program of The General Board of Global Ministries (Global Ministries) since its inception in 2006. The Community Developers Program receives support from Human Relations Day offering,
Norfolk United Methodist Church (UMC) is a small to medium size congregation that is committed to doing ministry in the inner city of Norfolk, Virginia. “Fortunately, we have members that are committed to making a difference in our community, where we serve,” said the Rev. Dr. Sherry Daniels, pastor.
Norfolk UMC also has what is called a “Restoration of Rights” program helping five persons have their right to vote restored. “The Community Developers Program moves us beyond the Sunday/Wednesday model of ministry and helps local churches to connect to the entire community,” said Rev. Dr. Daniels. “It challenges our understanding of community engagement and how the community really experiences Shalom.”
Rev. Dr. Daniels says, “We have been able to add the extra component of restoration of rights to our video prison ministry so we are able to provide a stable and consistent connection for families where a family member is incarcerated in our communities where we serve.” She added, “We are able to take an additional step and help persons to move beyond the shame of having their right to vote revoked, to having it restored.”
United Methodists connect with Human Relations Day by supporting community ministries like Bridging the Vision that teach and advocate for justice, especially among people struggling to survive in the margins of society. The Human Relations Day offering calls United Methodists to recognize the right of all God’s children to realize their potential.
Your Generous Gifts to Human Relations Day Sunday go to support the following ministries:
- Community Developers Program, related to Global Ministries;
- United Methodist Voluntary Services Program, Global Ministries; and
- Youth Offender Rehabilitation Program, General Board of Church and Society.
— edited by Barbara Dunlap-Berg, content editor, UMNS
To learn more about the Human Relations Day Sunday offering click here. To give to the Human Relations Day Sunday offering to help programs like this one click here.