Vital Conversations: Mass Incarceration


In 2015, the United States celebrates five decades worth of progress on civil rights. But we must acknowledge that too many of us still judge individuals more on the color of their skin than by the content of their character. The struggle for freedom and justice is still as real today as it was on that bridge to Selma 50 years ago. Did you know, for example, that there are more black men under correctional control in the United States today than there were under slavery in 1850?

Just as a strong correlation still exists between poverty and race and incarceration, longstanding mistrust, anger, fear, and divisions still exist in our local communities. As Christians, we must work together in faith toward solutions. But how do we do that? The following resources are intended to empower you to have vital conversations about important topics like racism and mass incarceration. We hope that you’ll use them to help our Church and our communities work together toward meaningful change.

Mass Incarceration and Race: How Must Christians Respond?

There is a correlation between poverty, race, and incarceration. So how can U.S. Christians–the white majority community and communities of color–overcome mistrust, anger, fear, and historic division and work together in faith toward solutions? Read more on mass incarceration and the attention and work that fellow United Methodists are undertaking to reverse this startling trend.

For Congregation-Wide Study of The New Jim Crow

This resource offers salient quotations, concepts, and key questions for Christians seeking to understand the damaging role of mass incarceration on our communities and our churches.

Study Guide: Mass Incarceration

GCORR’s study guide on mass incarceration offers tips for engaging in study and discussions on mass incarceration among bishops, district superintendents, conference clergy, and lay leaders, as well as a complete list of resources for study and discussion.

Gospel Lessons on Racial, Criminal and Socioeconomic Justice

This GCORR resource offers church members gospel lessons on rejecting racism, confronting abuse of power, and justice for the poor and oppressed, as well as a list of United Methodist resolutions on criminal justice, racism, and poverty.

Rev. Janet Wolf Discusses the Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline

Rev. Janet L. Wolf, director of The Haley Farm and Nonviolent Organizing at the Children’s Defense Fund, discusses her work to dismantle policies and systems that feed the cradle-to-prison pipeline.

Rev. Vance Ross Discusses Lost Opportunities and Cradle-to-Prison Pipelines

Gordon UMC pastor Vance Ross has witnessed first hand how poverty and the lack of educational opportunities in the communities that surround his Nashville, Tenn., church feed the cradle-to-prison pipeline. Rev. Ross discusses his work to empower members of his church and community.

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