In our first year as a congregation, we decided to focus our outreach on criminal justice reform. Over the years this has taken many different forms, from sponsoring prisoner organizations like the National Lifers of America and Hasta to leading Bible studies in the Women’s prisons to doing major educational programs like Teach-Ins to organizing the Washtenaw County branch of the Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative (MPRI). In response to the success of the MPRI program the Department of Corrections cut our budget by 60%, so some of us decided to focus on working to build a restorative justice system in our county. This led us to help launch a group called Friends of Restorative Justice (FoRJ). FoRJ is responsible for restorative justice being centered in the recent campaign for county prosecutor, and its current priorities include: working to pass state legislation to make restorative justice an option for all crimes everywhere in the state; working to establish a restorative justice center in Washtenaw County; and continuing community education around restorative justice.
In 2018, The Rev. William Barber helped launch a new Poor People’s Campaign to focus on the inter-connected evils of systemic poverty, racism, militarism, and environmental devastation, as well as to create a new moral agenda for our country. In May of that year, 25-30 members of Incarnation were involved in a 40-day campaign of protests in Detroit and Lansing. In January of 2019, we organized a day-long summit to address how we can best challenge the racial and economic caste system in Washtenaw County and we have been working on ways to do that ever since.
The Nicaragua Project has provided assistance to El Puente, a group in Catarina Nicaragua working to develop jobs in their community. Our organization was started by members of Incarnation, but was spun off as an independent charitable entity. Currently, half of the Project Board members have ties to Incarnation, and half are other community members. We are currently seeking more people to help carry this project forward.