FTE’s Ministry Exploration and Mentoring Grant; The grant was such a tremendous blessing as it enabled me to develop relationships with women that have utilized their experience and/or understanding of grief in their respective ministries.

"> Affirmations of Calling | Forum for Theological Exploration Ferguson & Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community, Dr. Leah Gunning Francis discusses the significance of her work for faith communities and emerging Christian leaders.

"> Seven Questions with Leah Gunning Francis, Author of “Ferguson & Faith” | Forum for Theological Exploration A Reflection on My Ministry Exploration and Mentoring Grant Experience | Forum for Theological Exploration The Sublime Power of Belief | Forum for Theological Exploration Theological Education After Ferguson and Long Island and Baltimore and Charleston and…. | Forum for Theological Exploration The Ministry of Surrender | Forum for Theological Exploration The Stillness | Forum for Theological Exploration Racism: The Most Sinful of Legacies | Forum for Theological Exploration What Is Thy Name | Forum for Theological Exploration Active Faith is Urgent | Forum for Theological Exploration The Birth of Goodness | Forum for Theological Exploration Re-Arranged by the Spirit | Forum for Theological Exploration Vocation in Between the Aftermath of Violence and a Hoped-for Future | Forum for Theological Exploration To Follow a Call | Forum for Theological Exploration Where Two or Three Are Gathered | Forum for Theological Exploration Tooth Fairy | Forum for Theological Exploration Marking Vocational Transitions Faithfully | Forum for Theological Exploration Mission Year to attend FTE’s Discernment Retreat in Lake Arrowhead, California.

"> Our Becoming | Forum for Theological Exploration Falling Deeper Into My Calling | Forum for Theological Exploration Let the Streets Inspire You | Forum for Theological Exploration Whose Name is on the Invitation? | Forum for Theological Exploration The Feeble Art of Radical Hospitality | Forum for Theological Exploration Finding God in the Rabbit Trail | Forum for Theological Exploration What is Worship to Me | Forum for Theological Exploration A Resolution for Religion | Forum for Theological Exploration Sacred Cows at the Lord’s Table | Forum for Theological Exploration I am a Pile of Trash | Forum for Theological Exploration The Church Knows Something | Forum for Theological Exploration Critical Feeling | Forum for Theological Exploration “Do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:19 | Forum for Theological Exploration Buddy Crossed the Line | Forum for Theological Exploration Campus Ministries Shaping the Future | Forum for Theological Exploration Teaching Theology after Ferguson | Forum for Theological Exploration Imagination Next | Forum for Theological Exploration If it was a Snake ... | Forum for Theological Exploration The Power to Reshape Brokenness | Forum for Theological Exploration Campus Ministries that Stick | Forum for Theological Exploration How to Harness the Awkward Pause | Forum for Theological Exploration 2015 FTE Doctoral Fellowships. This is an appropriate moment to reflect briefly on why we do the work of supporting rising theological educators of color.

"> Why We Do This | Forum for Theological Exploration In Praise of Small Spaces | Forum for Theological Exploration Culture Shock | Forum for Theological Exploration Can We Keep Our Promises? | Forum for Theological Exploration An Opportunity to Re-Engage not Remake the Church | Forum for Theological Exploration Living Stream Church of the Brethren.

"> Innovative Ministries: Stepping outside my box | Forum for Theological Exploration Attentiveness and Practices in Christian Ministry | Forum for Theological Exploration Conducting My Beautiful, Cacophonous Clone Choir | Forum for Theological Exploration Can you Repack That? | Forum for Theological Exploration An Open Reflection to My Younger Self | Forum for Theological Exploration A Christian Take on Mindfulness | Forum for Theological Exploration The Building of Community in Unlikely Places | Forum for Theological Exploration Compensation for Being | Forum for Theological Exploration Transitioning-into-Ministry (TiM) Participants Gathering. The first year I thought it was a fluke. The second year I was looking for it. This year, I was expecting it. What was is “it”? The power of a room.

"> The Power of a Room | Forum for Theological Exploration Listen Closely | Forum for Theological Exploration Communication as an Art | Forum for Theological Exploration Celebrating a Birthday or Celebrating the Birth of an Idea | Forum for Theological Exploration Shhhhhhhh! | Forum for Theological Exploration Do We Know Enough About Other Religions? | Forum for Theological Exploration My Time At the FTE Vocational Discernment Conference | Forum for Theological Exploration Is the Institutional Church Worth Saving? | Forum for Theological Exploration A Muddy Epiphany | Forum for Theological Exploration In Search of Community | Forum for Theological Exploration Prayers on the Wind | Forum for Theological Exploration Live the Questions | Forum for Theological Exploration Ask a Millennial Why They Stay | Forum for Theological Exploration Afterlife Chat at Midnight | Forum for Theological Exploration Vocation and Inspiration | Forum for Theological Exploration On Mountains and Empty Spaces | Forum for Theological Exploration What a Vocational Calling to Ministry Means to Me | Forum for Theological Exploration The Anti-Tourism of Meditation | Forum for Theological Exploration When Lions Have Historians | Forum for Theological Exploration Five New Features on fteleaders.org | Forum for Theological Exploration Seeking the Kingdom—and Finding It | Forum for Theological Exploration Darśan: Seeing the Divine Image in India before spending a semester together in India.

She has the monumental task of training 13 Americans to see differently while in India…

"> Sacred Optometry: Opening my Eyes in India | Forum for Theological Exploration Faith and Leadership, Nathan Kirkpatrick has been talking for years about over-investing in young people and the importance of giving the youngest generation a shot at not only Christian formation but also Christian ministry. But what does “over-investing” look like?

"> A New Year’s Resolution for Ministry | Forum for Theological Exploration Inside FTE’s New Name | Forum for Theological Exploration Cultivating Quality Leadership for a Sustainable Church | Forum for Theological Exploration Single-Leader-Centered vs Group-Centered Leadership | Forum for Theological Exploration Leadership Capacities Every Young Pastor Must Learn | Forum for Theological Exploration Freedom to Flunk | Forum for Theological Exploration National Festival of Young Preachers. Originally published on The Huffington Post.

Let us take a moment to look at what Hebrew Scripture teaches about Sabbath. In Exodus, the longest of the 10 commandments says that we should do all our work in six days but on the seventh we should not do any work, nor should we allow anyone else to work—not our children, not those who serve us, not the resident aliens, not even our livestock and animals. (Exodus 20: 8-11) Everybody gets a day off.

Our scriptures understand it. Our story tells it. But do we imbibe it? Do we speak the language of Sabbath?

"> There is No Rest | Forum for Theological Exploration A Musical Ministry | Forum for Theological Exploration Reflections on the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference | Forum for Theological Exploration Volunteers Update from Nashville | Forum for Theological Exploration Love and Imperfection | Forum for Theological Exploration Here Comes a Happy Minister | Forum for Theological Exploration Turn, Turn, Turn | Forum for Theological Exploration Ashes to Ashes | Forum for Theological Exploration Finding God and Health In The Experience of Storytelling | Forum for Theological Exploration Come Saturday Morning | Forum for Theological Exploration Stumbling Into the Digital Reformation | Forum for Theological Exploration 20 Steps to a Renewed Church | Forum for Theological Exploration

Set the Prisoners Free

By: Shawn Casselberry
February 11, 2016

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. - Hebrews 13:3

God has been breaking my heart over our country’s prison system. It just doesn’t seem right that the “land of liberty” has more people locked up than any other nation. So when my friend invited me into a maximum security prison to join a class he teaches on prison literature I readily accepted.

We made our way to the classroom where 11 guys were eager to discuss the latest book they were reading - Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison. The men debated whether Bonhoeffer’s scheme to kill Hitler was morally justified. “Is violence ever justified? Could God forgive someone who committed murder? When a soldier kills is it murder? Is the man who conducts the lethal injection a murderer or the Governor who makes the order?”

Later we were talking about harsh sentencing and the lack of mercy within the current system. A man named Ed*, said, “Cain, Moses, and Paul all committed murder but how did God respond? God restored them.”

I was surprised by the depth of conversation among men cast away by society. Larry, who is serving life for a crime he insists he didn’t commit, looked at me and said, “People don’t expect us to be talking like this.” I told Larry I’d like to let people know by sharing their stories.

The guys I spent the morning with were incredibly insightful, genuine, and welcoming. They sang happy birthday for my friend when they found out it was his birthday and they told him they would have gotten him a card if they had known.

I felt a deep sorrow in my heart as I left and even now as I think about it. I want mercy for all these guys. Isn’t 20 years of someone’s life enough to take? I just can’t see how caging someone for the rest of their life could be part of God’s will for anyone.

The great civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer said, “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” We know Jesus came to set the prisoners free with a grace that restores. My experience in prison has given me a desire to see the prison system radically changed. I feel called to use my voice to amplify the cries of our brothers and sisters behind bars. I hope that we as a church will remember those in prison and advocate for restorative justice so all of us can be free.


Photo By: Kitsadakron Pongha

Tags: Inspired Leaders, Innovation in Ministry, Thinking Out Loud, Shaping the Future


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