Agencies train leaders to help former inmates

Photo contributedAJ Delgadillo and Anne Lehman from the Center for Community Justice, speak at Mennonite Mission Network.

ELKHART — Mennonite Mission Network and the Center for Community Justice of Elkhart, have come together to resource local leaders in supporting former inmates and their families.

The first workshop in the project was held Dec. 16 at the Mission Network offices, 3145 Benham Ave., in Elkhart.

Ann Jacobs, church relations representative at Mission Network, initiated this partnership after interviewing local pastors and leaders who expressed hope that the larger community and church could see the fruits of their ministry to former incarcerated citizens and families.

“Listening and learning from pastors is important to my church relations role at Mission Network,” Jacobs said.

She describes her main role as strengthening lasting relationships with Mennonite African-American constituency members.

Jacobs has brought together local Elkhart pastors and community leaders, including individuals from CCJ, to share the knowledge they have gained through years of working with former inmates.

“It is important to us [Mission Network] to pay attention to what God is doing through local pastors,” explained Jacobs. “Serving the Lord may look different in different contexts, and as a mission agency, we are honored to facilitate what God is doing through our local partners.”

At the first workshop local experts, and Don French, restorative re-entry services coordinator from CCJ, offered seminars that included the topics “Restorative justice practices,” “Building a pyramid of purpose” and “Obstacles to successful re-entry.” Participant engaged in case studies as well as listened to testimonies from experienced local ministries, and explored the different ways that local organizations, such as Mission Network and CCJ, can offer support.

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