Action Alert: Child Advocacy and Police Violence

Join Us! Children’s Defense Fund Child Advocacy Institute
Deaconess Community,

Twenty-six years ago, Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund, envisioned the Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry at Alex Haley Farm as a space for community providing spiritual sustenance to endure the journey of creating the just world our children deserve. Each year child advocates, justice seekers, seminarians, and faith leaders gather on the storied grounds of Haley Farm, the spiritual home of the children’s movement, to sing and pray, strategize and struggle, organize and advocate and learn and share stories in Beloved Community. Many enter the gates and are greeted by “welcome home.”

Since 2016, Deaconess has supported and led delegations from St. Louis to The Farm for this time of renewal. In this unprecedented moment it is clearer than ever that fierce faith, beloved community, and commitment to child well-being and justice are urgently needed. This year, through partnership with Highlander Research & Education Center, we are called to Beloved Community in virtual space.

Join us for the virtual 2020 Proctor Institute on July 21-22, 2020, as we gather, scattered across the country but united in our commitment to reimagine our future for children with justice and joy.

Each day programming will begin at 12 p.m. EST and conclude at 4 p.m. (EST) followed by the Greater Preacher Series (7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. EST) featuring Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago and Bishop Yvette Flunder, Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries.


For the complete two-day schedule, click here. | To register for the free, two-day event click here.


SCHEDULE HIGHLIGHTS (All times Eastern Standard)

Tuesday, July 21
Noon Welcome Home from Marian Wright Edelman
1:10 p.m. Theology & Child Advocacy: For Such a Time as This by Dr. Patrick Reyes, author of Nobody Cries When We Die
1:40 p.m. Panel: Race, Poverty, & Children in the Pandemic featuring Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, President & CEO, Deaconess Foundation & the Honorable Michael Tubbs, Mayor of Stockton, CA
2:40 p.m. Intergenerational Conversation: Organizing in a Time Like This to Put Flesh On Faith featuring Ash-Lee Henderson, Co-Director, Highlander Research and Action Center & Gus Newport, National Council of Elders and former mayor of Berkley, CA
3:35 p.m. Anchored in the Current: Howard Thurman Reflection by Dr. Gregory Ellison II, Fearless Dialogues & editor, Anchored in the Current: Discovering Howard Thurman as Educator, Activist, Guide and Prophet
7:30 p.m. Great Preacher Series with Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III
Wednesday, July 22
Noon Welcoming Worship feat. Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., pastor emeritus, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church (Cleveland, OH) and Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Trinity UCC (Chicago, IL)
1:10 p.m. Theology & Child Advocacy feat. Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan Simpson, Executive Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation USA, & Pastor, Concord Baptist Church of Christ (New York, NY) & Min. Candace Simpson, writer and educator, Fish Sandwich Heaven
1:35 p.m. Panel: Who Counts? Democracy, Citizenship Schools, and Nonviolent Direct Action Organizing moderated by Dr. Charlene Sinclair, founding director, Center for Race, Religion and Economic Democracy.
2:35 p.m. Panel: Dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline moderated by Rev. Damien Durr, executive pastor, Friendship-West Baptist Church (Dallas, TX)
3:35 p.m. Charge & Anchored in the Current: Howard Thurman Reflection by Marian Wright Edelman and Parker Palmer, founder, Center for Courage and Renewal
7:30 p.m. Great Preacher Series with Bishop Yvette Flunder

Seminarians and faith leaders are further invited to participate in the Dale Andrews Freedom Seminary Sessions on Sunday, Monday and Thursday, July 19-20 and 23, 2020. All sessions are free and open to all. Registration is required. To register for Seminary sessions, click here. Highlights include:

Sunday, July 19
6:00p.m. Viewing Party: Backs Against the Wall PBS Howard Thurman documentary
7:20 p.m. Howard Thurman Panel moderated by Martin Dolmeier, filmmaker, with Drs. Walter Fluker, Candler School of Theology; Shively Smith, Boston University School of Theology; Starsky Wilson, President & CEO, Deaconess Foundation; & Gregory Ellison II, editor, Anchored in the Current
Monday, July 20
12:15 p.m. Let Your Light Shine: Mobilizing for Justice with Children and Youth Introduction to Freedom Seminary’s faculty book led by editors Virginia Lee and Reggie Blount, Garrett-Evangelical School of Theology
1:10 p.m. “Reconnecting Seminary, Sanctuary, Streets, and Soil: Creating Alternative Space for Theological Education” Discussion facilitated by Ched Myers and Elaine Enns, Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries, co-authors, Ambassadors of Reconciliation.
Thursday, July 23
9:15 a.m. Panel: Anchored in the Current Greg Ellison II & Parker Palmer with Liza Rankow, Pacific School of Religion; Rev. Matthew Williams, President, Interdenominational Theological Center; & Dr. Luther Smith, Jr., Pan Methodist Campaign for Children
10:30 a.m. Panel: Another Way: Living and Leading Change on Purpose feat. Matthew Williams with Rev. Stephen Lewis, President, Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE); and Dori Baker, Senior Fellow, FTE and co-founder, The Listening Freedom School. All co-authors of Another Way.

We hope that you join us in this community space.


For our children,

Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson
President & CEO
Deaconess Foundation



Sign the Petition: Organizing Table Seeks End to Police Violence

On Monday, July 13, Deaconess Foundation joined 12 partner organizations to release a set of demands that lay out the first steps to eliminate systemic racism embedded in St. Louis’ public safety systems. These demands follow weeks of protest that surged after the police killing of George Floyd.


Released as part of an on-line petition, the demands are directed at St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, St. Louis City Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed, Comptroller Darlene Green and St. Louis City Director of Public Safety Jimmie Edwards.


Of the five demands, one is already on the way to completion: close the St. Louis Medium Security Institution, most commonly referred to as The Workhouse. This closure, while almost certainly happening, it is not yet finalized. Only when the bill absolutely authorizing its closure is passed by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen and signed by Mayor Krewson will it be considered a win for this table of organizations.


Other demands address efforts to reign in unchecked policing via control and transparency of public funds. Notably, federal CARE Act funds received for COVID-19 relief. None of these funds should be awarded to police. Calls also include the public release and transparent examination of all funds budgeted to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) over a six-year period. The petition demands a freeze on police hiring and suspension of current negotiations with the St. Louis Police Officers Association until there are significant opportunities for community discussion and input.


The petition with the detailed list of demands can be found HERE. The sponsoring organizations have set a goal of 3,000 signatures. Join us by endorsing the demands.