The Common Good

Justice Revival is Coming

Sojomail - October 22, 2009


I no longer believe that you can fix the death penalty ... I learned that the death penalty throws millions of dollars down the drain -- money that I could be putting directly into crime fighting -- while dragging victims' families through a long and torturous process that only exacerbates their pain.

- James Abbott, a 29-year veteran Republican police chief from Orange, New Jersey, who served on a New Jersey panel that recommended abolishment of capital punishment. (Source: The Columbus Dispatch)

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Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis

Justice Revival is Coming

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Earlier this month, I was in Dallas for the official launch of Sojourners’ next Justice Revival. It’s the culmination of more than a year’s worth of organizing to unite more than 1,000 churches and 1 million Christians in the Dallas area to come together to address issues of public education and chronic homelessness. These were not issues that were decided from here in Washington, but rather issues that came from local grassroots leaders.

In Dallas, 89 percent of all high school seniors are not college or career ready. More than 5,800 people are homeless, of whom nearly 700 are chronically homeless. Dallas leaders have united across denominational, racial, and socioeconomic lines and have committed to creating 25 partnerships with public schools and advocating for 700 new units of permanent supportive housing as a solution to chronic homelessness in Dallas. The Justice Revival event next month will just serve as a precursor to the work that will take place in 2010 in Dallas.

Two weeks ago we held a press conference and a City Leaders Luncheon where senior pastors, nonprofit leaders, elected officials, and business executives gathered for lunch with me and the wildly popular mayor of Dallas, Tom Leppert, a person of deep faith. All 250 leaders went through a buffet line to receive a school lunch, cafeteria-style. It was a great reminder of why, and on whose behalf, we are coming together in Dallas.

During the press conference beforehand, Rev. Zan Holmes, pastor emeritus of St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church and an elder statesman of the Dallas church scene, said, “We've never come together like this. This is historic.”

And indeed, across Dallas people are talking about this historic initiative and the potential it has to transform the city. Many articles and interviews have already come out locally about the event, including a full-length feature article by The Dallas Morning News. The DMN also published an editorial endorsing the Justice Revival, which said:

If the Justice Revival works in Dallas as it did in Columbus, Ohio, Wallis envisions such efforts helping recast our national dialogue about many different issues. He believes that houses of faith can be sanctuaries where people of all stripes, including those who have no interest in religion, can gather publicly to discuss everything from health care to immigration reform to school policies. The one rule is no one can trash someone else. As we said, it’s a novel concept, and we can’t wait to see it break out in Dallas and across the country.

The Dallas Justice Revival will take place Nov. 10-12 at a huge indoor exhibition hall called Dallas Market Hall. We’ll hear preaching from Rev. Zan Holmes, Rev. Sam Rodriguez, and Grammy Award-winning musicians such as Fred Hammond, Israel Houghton, Jaci Velasquez, and Salvador will lead us in worship. It will conclude on Nov. 14 with a Day of Action that includes a march for the homeless and 10 projects throughout the city.

I hope that you will be able to make it to Dallas in a couple weeks to join us. If not, please be in prayer for this exciting initiative and be sure to tell your friends that live in the area. To find out more information and register for this free event visit

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