Lynne Green, second year student at McAfee, is fulfilling her Contextual Ministry placement at CenterForm, a resource center for those in ministry outside the walls of the Church. Here, Green is not only fulfilling her roles as an intern, but being am agent of change in the community. Green will host a program entitled “Recalculating: A Conversation on Re-entry and Navigating the Way to Successful Reintegration,” as she encourages the community and the Church to help those who may be falling through the cracks after incarceration. We interviewed her about her inspiration and passion for this internship project.
M: What is CenterForm? What are your roles/duties?
LG: CenterForm is a co-working space for people doing ministry outside the confines of the church. It is a shared workspace and a community within itself. CenterForm is a place where people come together to work on their individual projects. We connect, collaborate, learn, and go forth into the world. It is a place of shared resources. I serve as one of five hosts there. We open and close the space, meet and greet the co-workers, keep the coffeepot full, and have the opportunity to learn what other ministries are doing in the community. It is an awesome place for networking and learning from other co-laborers in Christ.
M: What is your connection with CenterForm? How long have you been involved with this ministry?
LG: I was introduced to CenterForm by Dr. Melissa Browning who is the Contextual Ministry professor. We were looking to fulfill my requirements for the class, while working within the context of my ministry goals. I was very impressed with John and Katheryn Heinz, the founders of Centerform, and the concept of their ministry.
M: How did this reentry ministry come about? Why is it important to you?
LG: I became involved unofficially long before I knew there was a term for it. I am a connector and adept at helping people get to the resources they need. I have been a community educator and case manager for most of my adult life. This has been an idea long in the making, birthed from personal and vicarious experiences. One of my sons was incarcerated. When he came home I indirectly experienced the difficulties returning citizens face when they are released. How many people out there do not have anyone to walk with them when they are released? It is a tough road especially when you feel alone. The world is changing constantly and the instinct is to go back to what you know. We need to help them navigate their way to success.
M: What biblical applications come to mind as you prepare for this event?
LG: There are so many. Matthew 25:36-40 mentions the need to visit prisoners because what we do for them, we have done for Christ. In Hebrews 13:1-3, God tells us to remember those in prison and who are facing injustice as though it were we ourselves suffering. What do we hope someone would do if it were us on the other side of the bars?
M: Why is the Church important in this work? What can the Church do?
LG: The Church should be the first partaker in forgiving people and bringing hope. We should be setting the standard. We could make all the difference in the world if we would stand and model what our faith is all about. We believe in forgiveness, reconciliation, and building community. The Word tells us ALL have sinned and come short of God's glory. We like to categorize our sins and shun people who are different. The church is not made up of perfect people. We need to show others the same mercy we receive.
M: How important is the community in helping returning citizens reintegrate into society? What can the community do?
LG: We need to open our hearts and minds as a community. Our decisions should not be based only on ourselves but we should be helping our fellow people. There's a picture and saying I adore, “He ain't heavy; he's my brother.” The picture shows a hand extended to help a man climb a wall that seems impossible. The community needs to begin looking at the resources and the talents of the people. If we can find a way to bring them together, somehow, what a better society we would be.
M: How can community members participate in this ministry project?
LG: We have an event coming up Thursday, December 1st, plus many more workshops, retreats, and trainings to come. I would like attendees to walk away feeling like they can participate in healing our communities and helping people navigate their way to successful reintegration, but I do not want them to come looking for the answers. I want them to come ready to participate in the conversation, ask questions, share information, and share resources. When they walk away, I would like them to share the information with others about the hope for the future of returning citizens.
This program is scheduled for Thursday, December 1, 2016 at 6pm. CenterForm is located at 115 Martin Luther King Blvd., on the 4th floor. Be sure to connect with this wonderful ministry as they continue to encourage McAfee students, ministers, and the community. You can get more details here.
Interview by Brittini Palmer