Following information sessions and advocacy training in February and March, a group of Indianapolis clergy mobilized around two bills facing the Indiana General Assembly (IGA) in the 2019 legislative session.
This past Spring, clergy and community leaders traveled as a group to meet with members of the Indiana House of Representatives. During these meetings, pastors advocated for an expansion of Indiana’s ‘On My Way Pre-K’ program that would allow lower-income students from the entire state to register for subsidized preschool at high-quality learning centers.
Ministers also mobilized around opposition to a proposed bill that would lower to 12 the age at which a juvenile could be tried as an adult. One member of The Indianapolis Ministerium, Dr. Ivan Douglas Hicks of First Baptist Church North Indianapolis, was quoted by RTV6 in Indianapolis, “We’re messing up lives that could be rehabilitated. Which is a wonderful notion for a criminal justice system to actually seek rehabilitation for people who are young, and those who have hope for the future,” Dr. Hicks said. “This law hurts.”
After these meetings, advocates attended debates on the bills and were trained to reach out directly to members of the Education Committee in the Indiana General Assembly urging them to support students with their votes on these bills.
Due in part to the efforts of The Ministerium, as well as countless of other advocates and community groups, the Indiana General Assembly voted to expand access to quality preschool for low-income students and declined to lower the age at which juveniles can be tried as adults.
The Expectations Project (TEP) was able to raise visibility on these issues and helped to organize and host trainings on education and advocacy that equipped faith leaders to effect change. TEP also helped to show the connection between juvenile justice and the school-to-prison pipeline that so often disproportionately affects students of color.
The success of efforts in the 2019 session encouraged the group to keep the momentum going and to identify and mobilize around additional issues in which people of faith can stand up, speak out, and make a difference for ALL of God’s children.