Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission (JPIC)
JPIC strives to be an advocate for those who have need for extra voices that speak in their behalf. In this endeavor, JPIC serves to strengthen and deepen discipleship by maintaining a spiritual voice and forum for active Christians to speak out about the problems Iowans face. In all this JPIC works to make the Church’s voice heard in an economical and efficient manner commensurate with the talents and resources of the Commission and the possible actions they believe deserve our attention.
Pathways to Serenity
St. Thomas More Center, Panora, IA
Registration deadline is April 16 for this Diocesan supported semi-annual retreat for support of those of any faith affected by Chemical Dependency.
This 12-step program retreat offers opportunities for step study, group meetings, and for spiritual and religious work throughout the weekend.
The fee is only $60.00 for the weekend, and scholarship assistance is available for those who cannot pay even this highly subsidized fee.
If you or someone you know would benefit from this weekend retreat, please contact Patti Christensen, Chair of the Diocesan Chemical Dependency Committee at 515-223-5083 or email@example.com.
Nov 7, 2011
by Brian McVey
On September 27, a call went out to all those opposed to human trafficking to reach out to members of Congress and lobby them to pass the Trafficked Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. The TVPRA, first passed in 2000, helped to combat human trafficking in the United States by establishing it as a federal crime and by providing assistance programs for survivors. The 2008 William Wilberforce TVPRA was scheduled to expire on September 30, and Congress showed no urgency with respect to the bill.
Thanks to the efforts of members of the diocese, their friends, and their blog readers all around the country, 14 members of the House of Representatives and 27 Senators have joined as co-sponsors of the bill since September 27! The chair of the House Foreign Affairs committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen specifically thanked all those members of the public who had made the passage of the bill a priority.
Unfortunately, though the finish line is in sight, there is still work to be done. The full Senate must still vote upon the bill, and the House Judiciary committee must pass the bill to the full House before the President can sign the TVPRA back into law.
This is where we, and all our friends who oppose slavery, come in to play. If you have not yet contacted your Senator or Representative, please take a moment and do so. Iowa remains one of the few states to have no legislative co-sponsors of the bill, despite the fact that we have had 5 human trafficking convictions and the broad experience of Postiville.
If you have contacted your members of Congress,thank you for your efforts. Please consider sharing this information with all your Twitter followers and friends on Facebook so that they, too, can join the the fight against slavery.
For more information about the bills or about Human Trafficking in Iowa, please contact Maggie Tinsman or Rev. Brian McVey.
May 5, 2011
Human Trafficking: What You Should Know, and How You Can Help
By Maggie Tinsman
The term “Human Trafficking”, for many, evokes images of far-off places, where the population is poor and crime runs rampant. It paints a picture of foreign brothels and exploitative conditions in factories and on farms. The term implies movement, perhaps people being herded into trucks, then bought, sold and smuggled across international borders. These are very real examples of human trafficking, but the truth is that it also occurs close to home, and transportation is not a required condition for human trafficking. Put simply, human trafficking is slavery. Force, fraud or coercion is used to compel a person to perform labor or commercial sex, and all profits belong to the trafficker.
The extent and scope of the problem is difficult to assess because of the underground nature of this crime. Figures estimating the number of people being trafficked in the world today range from four to twenty-seven million, according to the Department of Justice’s 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report. Trafficking is immensely profitable for the traffickers, who earn anywhere from $13,000-67,000 per year per trafficked person, according to the International Labor Organization. Traffickers can earn as much (or more) money selling people as they can selling drugs or guns, but with a much lower risk for arrest and prosecution.
Human trafficking in the United States can be described in two forms: The first is sex trafficking. Women, both foreign and U.S. citizens are common victims of sex trafficking. These women are forced to work in strip clubs, massage parlors, in street prostitution, and are required to advertise their services on classified websites. They are abused mentally, physically and sexually as a means of keeping them under traffickers’ control. Runaway and homeless girls are particularly vulnerable to this type of trafficking, as they may be easily manipulated, and once in a trafficking situation, often feel like they have nowhere to turn for help. Force, fraud or coercion is not necessary to constitute trafficking of a person under the age of 18; under the law, if she is in the sex industry, she is automatically considered a victim of trafficking. Human trafficking cases involving sex trafficking of runaway youth have been prosecuted in recent years in Iowa – it is a real problem that is facing our communities now.
The second major from of trafficking is labor trafficking. Individuals who fall victim to this type of trafficking may be male or female and are likely to be of foreign origin. These victims may work in restaurants, as hotel housekeepers, in factories or on farms, and as nannies. These individuals are not paid, and are frequently work and live under deplorable conditions. Often, these victims face language barriers, and any escape is impeded by the traffickers who maintain their victims’ documents, isolate them from the outside world and threaten to turn them over to U.S. authorities. These conditions in turn make it difficult for these victims to be identified and rescued. Also, teenage U.S. citizens are known to be trafficked in travelling magazine sales crews, transported around the country and forced to meet magazine sales quotas or risk being beaten by managers. If they repeatedly fail to make the required sales, they are abandoned in unfamiliar cities with no money and no place to stay.
Communities throughout the country are starting to come to grips with the fact that trafficking exists within their own populations, close to their homes. Individuals are looking for ways to assist in the fight against this complicated crime. Churches have found themselves at the forefront of the battle, making human trafficking an issue not only in their own congregations, but at the state, national and even international levels. Nationally, the Episcopal Church has passed Resolution A057, Recognize Problem of and Support Efforts to Stop Trafficking of Women, Girls and Boys, and Condemn Sex Trafficking. At the state level, the Iowa Diocesan Convention of 2008 passed Resolutions calling for protection of all human trafficking victims, establishing a Summit of leaders of all faith groups in Iowa to raise awareness of human trafficking, and to hold a Human Trafficking Awareness Day in all Iowa congregations during Lent of 2009.
Community members like you can help fight trafficking in a variety of ways. The following are a number of suggestions:
• Raise awareness by:
1. Posting an article on a bulletin board
2. Talking about the issue over lunch
3. Have a “Human Trafficking Sunday” for your congregation. (Handouts available through Maggie Tinsman – 563-359-3624)
4. Invite Maggie Tinsman
– the drafter of Iowa’s Human Trafficking Law – to educate your organization on trafficking
• Demand that Congress re-introduce the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act, which would institute a grant program to provide assistance to teen girls trafficked into the sex industry.
• Opt for free trade goods, untainted by slave labor, for your home.
Each one of us can play a part in stopping human trafficking in our cities and in our world.
Maggie Tinsman is a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Bettendorf, Iowa and serves as a lay minister as well as a leader at the diocesan and national levels.
The Rev. Anne Williams
Why do we do prison ministry? We do it because it is one specifically mentioned by Jesus: I was in prison and you came to visit me. (Matthew 25:36) In our baptismal covenant we are called among other things, first, to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves, and second, to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being. Those baptismal directives and Jesus’ instructions to us do not exclude anyone, even people who have committed crimes serious enough to be incarcerated for a time or for life. I see my role as bearing the image of God so that others, including drug dealers, robbers, extortionists, rapists, murderers, can become the image of God for themselves and others in their lives.
The second reason we do prison ministry is a much more pragmatic one. Most people who are put into prison, at some time in the future, become our neighbors again. I don’t know about you but I would prefer that people who come out of prison to live in my town have gotten a better self-concept and have gained some skills so they do not have to return to crime in order to support themselves. The idea of “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” is not just unchristian, it doesn’t really happen that often. Most inmates are released. Unfortunately, however, because of the current shut them away and forget about them ethos, very little education or job training is available beyond a high school education.
Here are a few odd facts. While Iowa’s general population has increased about 3.5% in the last thirty years, its inmate population has increased 426.5% during that time. Are Iowans of today that much worse than 30 years ago? Further, of those in prison, more than half of Iowa’s prisoners are serving time for nonviolent crimes, largely drug and alcohol related. Iowa has built three new prisons since 1996 and another one is being built, yet we are currently operating at 120% of design capacity. Iowa continues to put people into prison faster than it is letting them out. Additionally, inmates with special needs (mental illness, mental retardation, borderline intellectual functioning, and social inadequacy) are expected to increase 49%. Minority groups continue to be greatly over represented in the prison population as compared with their representation in the general population.
Jail and prison ministry can have many faces. Actually going into facilities is only a fraction of what needs to be done. The Rev. Jacqueline Means, retired Director of Prison Ministries in the office of the Bishop for the Armed Services, Healthcare and Prison Ministries for the Episcopal Church in the United States says that the more crucial aspects of prison or justice ministries are done outside of the walls. Many of those ministries are advocacy oriented. For instance, advocating for more community mental health and drug treatment programming rather than sending people to jail who need treatment. Since the mental health programs in local communities were drastically cut back 20-30 years ago, those who had benefitted from those services often and over time end up in prison. Another area related to prison ministry is working in community reconciliation programs, that work with the perpetrators and the victims to come to a community-based resolution. Other justice-based ministries involve work with either victims or the families of inmates. Often the families of someone in jail become “unseen victims.”
What kinds of jail/prison ministries are quietly happening in Iowa, carried on by Episcopalians because they have felt called to do these things? In Ames, Don Payer has been going into the county jail for years to work with inmates and about five years ago, was instrumental in founding a half-way house for men coming out of prison called Matthew House. Chuck Lane has been doing similar ministries in Waterloo. The half-way house there is called Jeremiah House. In Cedar Rapids, Maridee Dugger has worked in the Linn County jail system to coordinate volunteers. In Storm Lake, Don Keeler has worked with troubled youth for years. In Anamosa, Dan Rockwell goes in once a week to tutor with men working on their GED. Melody Rockwell and Anne Williams work with the inmates at Anamosa State Penitentiary doing various kinds of Bible study. Plus, all over the Diocese our members work with homeless shelters, food banks, affordable housing, human trafficking, and the list goes on and on. The most important ministry at the basis of each and every one of those specific ministries, however, is the ministry of presence – just showing up and meeting face to face with people who often are shunted to the edges of our society, looking them in the eye and letting them know that they do matter to God.
Diocesan Convention meeting in 2009, urged Iowa Episcopalians to observe Prison Ministry Sunday on the third Sunday in Lent each year; encouraged each congregation to include prayers for those in their community whose lives are affected by the incarceration of family members, and to focus on ways to minister to God’s children behind bars, those returning to the community and their families and victims. (see also 76th General Convention Resolution D095 - Prison Ministry Sunday)
Recognizing Iowa's diocesan Lenten focus on the Haiti Appeal in 2011, congregations are asked to:
• set the third Sunday in Lent -- or another date during the year--for a time to observe Prison Ministry Sunday
• consider engaging in partnerships with people in prison and their families, and those who minister to those in prison, and help ex-offenders return to society in productive ways by working with reentry programs.
Ways we as individuals can offer ourselves
in ministry, include:
• working with the children and families of prisoners
• writing letters
• visiting inmates
• leading Bible studies
• mentoring ex-offenders
• advocating repeal of the death penalty
• supporting reentry programs, better prison conditions and lower telephone rates
Whatever the day
, congregations are encouraged to recognize Prison Ministry Sunday sometime within each year. Additional information and supportive resources are available at: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/eLife_insert_030208_eng_lettersize.pdf
In September 2007, The Rev. Anne Scissons
was called as Vicar of St. Paul’s. Rev. Anne served in Burns, Oregon as the Rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, the Pastor of Peace Lutheran, ELCA, and Mission Developer for Church of the Living Waters, a mission church of the ELCA on the Burns Paiute Reservation.
In addition to the Sunday service, St. Paul’s does a community meal for the neighborhood and the homeless. While St. Paul’s is a mission church of the Diocese, we use our funding to do mission in serving God in the homeless and the marginalized peoples in need in this city. We do outreach through organizations in which many are members.
Beijing Circles are a tool which can help us educate ourselves and one another about the issues affecting women globally and then to advocate within our church and the world to bring about positive change. The Beijing Platform for Action
was created by a UN gathering of women from around the world and set in the context of Christian faith and addresses Millennium Development Goal #3, "Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women." MORE>>