2008 Domestic Workshops

Plenary Session: Challenging the Culture of Violence

We live in a world that fosters a culture of violence which weaves its way into our individual and collective lives on many levels. We live in a society where violence is presented as a viable and acceptable, if not preferred, option for solving problems.

This plenary session will explore the crossroads at which violence intersects with our personal, community and global realities.

How can we, as church, respond to the multiple manifestations of violence and brokenness in our society and what can we do to offer a healing vision?


  • Rev. Linda Jaramillo, Executive Minister, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries;
  • Rev. Catherine Snyder, Presbyterian Campus Minister at Virginia Tech;
  • Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, President, Girton-Mitchell Consulting; (invited) Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune, FaithTrust Institute

Moderator: Leslie Woods, Domestic Track Planning Team Leader, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office


Who Would Jesus Deport? A Participatory Workshop on Faith and Immigration

Immigration has become a common issue in local politics, national electoral debates, and kitchen-table discussions. But it is unfortunately increasingly characterized by hateful rhetoric and a misunderstanding of how immigrants contribute to our society. This workshop will address the need for people of faith to take a leading role in both national and local advocacy for immigrants. An overview of the current status of federal policy will be followed by a participatory segment on how you can make your community a more welcoming one.


  • Pastor Jeff Carter, Manassas, VA, Church of the Brethren
  • Gregory Chen, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services;
  • Patty Kupfer, Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform;
  • Bill Mefford, United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society (GBCS);
  • Jen Smyers, Church World Service; (Invited)
  • An immigrant worker to speak about a first-hand experience as an immigrant in the U.S.


Dismantling America’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline

The Children’s Defense Fund recently launched the Cradle to Prison Pipeline Campaign, a national call to action to stop the funneling of tens of thousands of youth, predominantly minorities, down life paths that often lead to arrest, conviction, incarceration and, in some cases, death. Rampant racial and economic disparities in access to quality health care and education combined with zero tolerance laws that criminalize children at younger and younger ages significantly limit the ability of millions of children to successfully transition into productive adulthood. We created the Pipeline and we have the power, knowledge and will to dismantle it.

Workshop participants will come away with individual, congregational and community strategies to identify, remove and prevent the multiple and accumulated obstacles that inhibit our children from living out their God-given potential.


  • Natacha Blain, Lead Strategic Advisor for Cradle to Prison Pipeline, Children’s Defense Fund;
  • Lynn White, Sr. Policy Associate for Juvenile Justice, Children’s Defense Fund;
  • Matt Rosen, Deputy Director of Religious Action, Children’s Defense Fund;
  • Jim Freeman, Staff Attorney, Advancement Project

Rebuilding the Gulf Coast: Does Throwing Away a Region of the United States and Its African American and Latino Population Contribute to America’s Ultimate Security?


  • Bishop Charles Jenkins, Episcopal Diocese of New Orleans – “Throwing Away Housing for the Least of These”
  • Filepe Forenseca, Senior Consultant at Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation – “The Equity and Inclusion Campaign”
  • Barbara Baylor, UCC JWM Minister for Health and Wellness – “Mental Health & Wellness”
  • Shari Prestemon, Executive Director, Back Bay Mission – “Is Mississippi the Forgotten State in the Recovery?”
  • Tronn Moller, NCC Special Commission for the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, Consultant – “The People Are Surviving: What NCC Denominations Are Doing in the Recovery”
  • Jan Resseger, UCC JWM Minister for Public Education and Witness – “Giving Away the Public Space in Education”

Moderator: Rev. Dr. Carl Wallace, Project Team Leader, United Church of Christ JWM Gulf Coast Initiative


Conscientious Objection

The religious freedom of conscientious objections has been tested throughout our country’s history in both times of peace and times of war. Honoring this religious freedom has improved throughout history, but much work needs to be done. Today, with the US involved in two wars, there are few people who wrestle with their conscience more than those in our armed forces. And today, there are members of our military who will arrive at the conclusion that they can no longer in good conscience remain in the military. But with the current system for discharging conscientious objectors (CO) broken and failing to protect this fundamental religious freedom, many COs are facing incredible obstacles as they seek to honor their beliefs.

This workshop will discuss why the current system is failing many of those in the armed forces, and how to move forward to protect the rights of all conscientious objectors, whether absolutist or selective, through lobbying our churches and government for change. We will also provide a brief history on conscientious objection and how churches can help their young people think through issues of conscience and war.


  • Bill Galvin, counseling coordinator for the Center on Conscience & War (CCW) and a member of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship;
  • Andrew Gorby, legislative affairs for CCW and recently discharged CO;
  • J.E McNeil, Executive Director for CCW, attorney, and member of Friends Meeting of Washington


Plenary Session: Creating True Economic Security

We live in a country of great abundance but also a country where 37 million people live below the official poverty line and tens of millions more are just above it. It is a country where the chasm between the very rich and everyone else grows larger each year; where people in our communities and congregations may lack health insurance or retirement security; and where we are encouraged, and too often enjoy the chance, to shop until we drop. This plenary session will examine the meaning of true economic security, its biblical basis, and God’s vision of abundance. Speakers will also share what it means to be poor and to organize for economic justice, and examine the causes of poverty and growing inequality and how these problems can be addressed.


  • Rev. Jennifer Kottler, Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign;
  • Evelyn Dortch, Direct Action Welfare Group;
  • Edith Rasell, United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries;
  • Marvin Silver, USAction

Moderator: Roberta Spivek, National Representative for Economic Justice, American Friends Service Committee


An Alternative (Progressive) Vision of Family Values: Claiming a Vision of True Security, Part 1
The family values debate tends to focus on providing children with security through shoring up so-called “;traditional values.” On the other hand, homeland security emphasizes securing our borders and fighting the war on terror. Lost in all this rhetoric is any discussion of what true security actually is for children. What our children need is an alternative vision of family values, one that makes for true shalom by transforming both our public and private support systems. This double length workshop will sketch a vision of expanding access to comprehensive health care, high quality child care and opportunity in public education; protecting children from insecurity and fear in immigration policies; and supporting children through family mentoring and reawakening attention to early child development.


  • Phedonia Johnson, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, “Family Mentoring Programs that Create True Security for Struggling Parents”
  • Dorian Mendez-Vas, American Baptist Churches USA, “Helping Families Learn to Make Young Children Secure Enough to Explore and Learn”
  • Jan Resseger, United Church of Christ, “Test and Punish: How Federal Education Test-and-Punish Policy Harms Our Children and Threatens to Fray the Fabric of Our Democracy”
  • Barbara Baylor, United Church of Christ, “SCHIP and Medicaid”
  • Rosa Maria Castenada, The Urban Institute, “Immigration Policy that Protects Families and Children”

Moderator: Martha Bettis Gee, Presbyterian Church (USA)


Confronting Racial Injustice in the Criminal Justice System

Is Justice truly blind to issues of race in the U.S. criminal justice system, or are we blind to the ongoing racial injustices that cry out to be addressed? Combining personal testimonies to racial injustice and policy expertise, this panel will help us understand the racial challenges that are present in the criminal justice system and how we can respond. To give us focus, we will discuss pending legislation in the areas of racial profiling, juvenile justice, and sentencing reform.


  • Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU;
  • Karen Garrison, Families Against Mandatory Minimums;
  • Dwayne Betts, University of Maryland student and author;
  • Liz Ryan, Campaign 4 Youth Justice; Hilary Shelton, NAACP


Federal Budget and Security Priorities
(Co-sponsored with Global Security Track)

The vast majority of the threats facing the United States today do not have military solutions. From securing our ports, to protecting chemical and nuclear plants, to investing in effective foreign assistance, there are numerous non-military investments that will make us far more secure than relying on military force as the primary tool for national security. The Unified Security Budget, provides a comprehensive approach to the process of budgeting for national security and an effective tool for Congressional debate over national security priorities. Also, other priorities such as health, education, and economic security are sacrificed when our military budget gets takes precedence over all other spending. The National Priorities Project has been one of the leaders in highlighting the effects our current tax and spending priorities. Understanding security from more than a military perspective will help us create a new paradigm for true security in the United States and the world.


  • Greg Speeter, Executive Director, National Priorities Project;
  • Miriam Pemberton, Institute for Policy Studies/Foreign Policy in Focus


Addressing Corporate Power
(Co-sponsored with the Economic Justice / Jubilee Track)

In whatever struggle for justice we are involved, from health to ecology, workers’ rights to stopping wars, we run up against the overwhelming power and influence of corporations. Yet, when the U.S. was founded, very strict restrictions were placed on corporations and they had no political influence. What has happened since then to create these seemingly all-powerful corporations of today? More importantly, what can be done, and is already being done, to rein in corporate power in the U.S.? How can you participate in this fundamental struggle in your community? This workshop aims to answer these questions and more in an interesting look at corporations and society.


  • David Kane, Maryknoll Global Concerns; Sarah Anderson, Strategic Corporate Initiative;
  • Greg Coleridge, American Friends Service Committee


An Alternative (Progressive) Vision of Family Values: Claiming a Vision of True Security, Part 2
This workshop continues from the previous workshop period. See above for workshop description.


Human Trafficking

A conservative estimate is that there are 27 million people in slavery today, meaning that there are more people in slavery now than at any other time in human history. According to the U.S. State Department, an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 men, women, and children are trafficked across international borders each year, a majority into commercial sexual exploitation. Others are trafficked as labor commodities. Traffickers generate billions of dollars in profits every year while victimizing millions of people around the globe.


  • Sister Helene Hayes (International Research Project on Trafficked Women in Southeast Asia, Europe and USA), Mark Wexler (Not for Sale Campaign),
  • Brigitte Gynther (Interfaith Action),
  • Romeo Ramirez (Coalition of Immokalee Workers), and
  • Eric Sigmon (Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services)

for a discussion about the problem of human trafficking, and learn about modern-day abolitionists fighting trafficking and slavery on the front lines and the halls of Congress.


Faithful Citizens and Health Care: Election 2008 and Beyond

The growing sense of insecurity about U.S. health care places this issue at the top of our domestic priorities for the 2008 elections. This interactive workshop will highlight ways in which people of faith can engage more fully in working toward compassionate reform by getting involved in the electoral process. A new adult education resource, “Vision and Voice: Faithful Citizens and Health Care” will be introduced and participants will have a hands-on experience with the portions of the curriculum that illuminate the faith community’s role in social change. Focusing on faith values that undergird our commitment to health care reform, the workshop will highlight a variety of activities to help people of faith better understand the issue, connect with the moral teachings of their own tradition, and identify action steps for individuals and communities of faith. The workshop facilitators were a part of the Vision and Voice design team.


  • Rev. Linda Hanna Walling, Executive Director, Faithful Reform in Health Care;
  • Michael Culliton, Director, Center for Healthcare Reform, St. Joseph Health System


Called to Be a Public Church: Civic Engagement and the 2008 Elections

In case you hadn’t heard, 2008 is an election year in American politics, headlined by the most media-drenched presidential campaign in history. It also seems that the role of faith – both in the lives of the candidates and in our national public life – is being discussed like never before.

What does this mean for us as Christians and for our churches? Join a panel of experts for a lively discussion about Christian civic engagement, covering everything from the theological bases for engagement in the electoral process to the nitty gritty of what churches can and cannot do according to IRS guidelines. Come prepared to learn about how you and your church can play a vital role in this historic year for America!


  • Jonah Goldman, Director, National Campaign for Fair Elections in the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s Voting Rights Project;
  • Rob Keithan, Director, Washington Office for Advocacy, Unitarian Universalist Association, representing Faithful Democracy;
  • Dan Nejfelt, Communications Associate, Faith in Public Life;
  • Joan Rosenhauer, Associate Director for Education and Outreach of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, representing Faithful Citizenship


Photo Credit: Marc DelMonico (c) 2005. Used with permission. Click to contact photographer

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