What does the Lord require of me, but to do justice, love mercy and to walk humbly with my God?” - Micah 6:8
STREAM (formerly Manatee County Justice Ministry)
Harvest is one of 16 founding congregations of STREAM (Stronger Together Reaching Equality Across Manatee), the Manatee County Justice Ministry. STREAM is part of D.A.R.T., which is a national network of affiliated grassroots, nonprofit, congregation-based community organizations. Community-based organizations are non-partisan, multi-faith that bring people together across racial, religious, and socioeconomic lines to pursue justice and fairness in their communities. These local organizations are built on a foundation of: Listening, Research, and Action.
STREAM congregations took action by hosting sacred conversions, also known as house meetings, this fall. Discussions will center on listening to what community justice issues are weighing heavily on our hearts and minds. Whether it is the lack of affordable housing, the need for better mental health care, homeless vets, or unjust arrests for minor offenses, we want to hear your story. We want to know what keeps you awake at 3 AM.
Out of these sacred conversations (house meetings) STREAM congregations discerned that the community issues to advocate for were affordable housing and a pre-arrest diversion program. Meeting with county commissioners and law enforcement took place and culminated at the Nehemiah Action Assembly in April 2022. Here are the "wins" that were achieved and the first steps to building a beloved community that looks closer to the one God intended:
- Approximately 600 people attended the first in-person Nehemiah Assembly.
- Affordable Housing - Commissioner Kruse agreed to create a plan to build 500 new affordable housing units per year for families making 80% AMI or less. This might not seem like a big deal but it is really important since we’re talking about making sure people who need decent housing gets it as soon as possible without having to leave Manatee County.
- Pre-Arrest Diversion Program - State Attorney Brodsky, Sheriff Wells, Chief Bevan, Chief Tyler all agreed to support a pre-arrest diversion program in Manatee, which will potentially benefit 8000 adults accused of a non-violent misdemeanor.
These are first steps to making changes in Manatee County and STREAM continues to meet with officials. Read about a recent affordable housing meeting that took place after the Nehemiah Action Assembly here.
We will celebrate the achieves at the Joshua Assembly on May 16. Read more.
By joining this Harvest group, you will receive invitations to justice ministry conferences, seminars, or workshops and access to resources.
Interested in engaging with others to listen and learn? You are invited to join the Manatee County Justice Ministry.
Questions? Email Diane McCoy, Director of Care & Justice Ministries.
Peace with Justice Resources
In response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and subsequent protesting of hundreds of thousands of people across the United States of America and the world, many connected to our church family have asked:
“How can I help?”
“What can I do next?”
“How do we make a change?”
One of the first things that we can do is listen to stories in order to understand. We can also invest in ourselves through education in order to change our thoughts about racial injustice.
We invite you into the work of peace with justice. Consider engaging with these resources in order to listen and learn. Resources will continue to be added.
An Article To Read
The Threat of Blackness: Four Black FLUMC Pastors Speak Out
Click here to link to this article.
We Have Refused to Listen: The murder of George Floyd calls us to repentance by Chris Hall, President of Renovaré (founded by Richard Foster).
Click here to link to this prayer.
A Movie to Watch
13th (available on Netflix)
Selma (available to rent for free on all US digital platforms in June)
A Webinar to Watch
Lamenting, Listening, Leading: How the Church Can Respond (begins at 7 minute mark)
Click here to link to the webinar
Cabinet Statement in Response to Racial Injustice
From the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
We join in the outrage expressed by multiple groups and leaders within our connection. The outrage is not only over the death of George Floyd (and countless others) but over the way in which systemic racism and white supremacy are embedded in the history of our nation and of our church. This act of violence was perpetrated at the hands of those charged with protecting citizens and maintaining the peace. Racism is not new. White supremacy, xenophobia, and white privilege are interwoven within our social, political, and religious structures. Racism is a sin and is blatantly incompatible with Christian teaching.
As Jesus' people we begin with the knowledge that all persons are created in the image of God. We believe all lives won’t matter until black lives matter.
We seek to name the injustices within the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church and work toward healing and unity. We acknowledge our complicity and our collective need to develop greater self-awareness. We repent of our individual and collective sins of omission and commission, particularly our silence and when we have not actively worked for racial justice.
We commit to listening. We commit to peace with justice. We commit to the urgency of educating ourselves. We commit to change. We commit to further training of our clergy and resourcing local churches in order to create heart transformation for all Florida United Methodists. We encourage Florida United Methodists to work toward eliminating obstacles to voting. We ask people to move towards one another and build new relationships.
We join you in prayer with a commitment to build a future with hope. The truth of this statement will be made known as we witness these words put into action.