It’s another Monday …

Today has been a bit of a challenge for me as I mourn for my son, remember my brother, and feel the pain of betrayal from people who call themselves members of God’s church. So, what does that mean for me and the blog? It means: no inspirational story, thoughts or quotes for today. Inside my head it is too dark tonight.

Instead I leave you with this ~
Grief is deeper than any human thought and the betrayal of unconditional love excels  Continue reading

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Criminal Justice: Ministry efforts not limited to people behind bars

       For more than 30 years I have observed the trends and public response to ministry in the criminal justice system. When this area of ministry became more personal and I became directly involved, I began to look more clearly at the impact that Christian faith can have in the lives of people within the system.
       What I found was that in order to respond and share our faith in Christ we must first more clearly identify who is a part of that system.
     Most people hear “criminal justice” and think “prison” but the definition is more far-reaching than the offender. Oftentimes programs are developed by the faith community that direct our energies to the conversion of the incarcerated while other members of society who have been impacted by the stress of the criminal act are left wounded along the road.
       A comprehensive ministry of criminal justice, from a faith-based perspective, requires us to include ministry and outreach to the victims of the offenders where there are victims, the families of those incarcerated, all levels of law enforcement that work within the criminal justice system, the confined prisoner, and the ex-offender as they are reintroduced to the community.
      According to a recent report released by the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project, at the start of 2008 there were 2,319,258 adults being held in American prisons or jails. The latest published reports show that in the state of Georgia, the average daily population being held under supervision of the Department Of Corrections was 57,026 in state prisons, 106 percent of capacity.
       These numbers currently put Georgia in the upper fifth of increase in prison population; and among the eight largest correctional programs in the United States. These figures reveal that for the first time in history more than one in every 100 adults in America are in jail or prison — a fact that significantly impacts our state budget without providing a clear benefit on public safety.

Other facts:

  • One in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars, that figure is 233% higher for men of color.
  • The female prison population is increasing at a much faster pace than it is for males.
  • One in every 53 adults in their 20s is behind bars (1.89%). InGeorgiathis number is 16,152 or 29. 53% of the total prison population.
  • The majority of all prisoners are held at the state and local level (not federal)
  • World Prison Brief lists prison population rates per 100,000 residents of each country ~ U.S.tops the list with 743 prisoners per 100,000 residents, followed byRwandawith 595, theRussian Federationwith 559.
  • Reports from the Bureau of Justice Statistics show an estimated 4.3 million violent crimes, 15.6 million property crimes, and 133,000 personal thefts were committed againstU.S.residents age 12 or older in 2009. This equates to more than 20,033,000 victims. **
       Although we can look at statistics and get a glimpse of the tragedy and heartbreak that surrounds our justice system, we are a people called to respond to the hurt and brokenness in the world and in our community. It is important that we note that prison growth and higher incarceration rates do not reflect a matching increase in crime, nor is there a corresponding swelling in the nation’s population at large.
       Instead, what we see is that more people are behind bars largely because of a wave of public policy choices that are sending more lawbreakers to prison. In addition, because of popular “three-strikes” measures and other sentencing laws, longer prison stays are being imposed on inmates.
       In some areas lawmakers are experimenting with a range of community punishments that are as effective as incarceration in protecting public safety. These include a mix of community-based programs such as day reporting centers, treatment facilities, electronic monitoring systems and community service. In addition, recidivism rates have proven to be positively impacted through faith-based programs.
       During the next few editions of the North Georgia Advocate we will have the opportunity to highlight the various facets of criminal justice ministry and how each of us can make an impact for Christ in these areas.
         In scripture we read, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord  require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” ~ (Micah 6:8)
     In this journey we will look at the many ways people in our churches and in our conference have extended the grace of God by doing justice, loving mercy and walking with God.
By: Rev.Pat

Definitions of Musical Terms

string quartet: a good violinist, a bad violinist, an ex-violinist, and someone who hates violinists, all getting together to complain about composers.
detache: an indication that the trombones are to play with their slides removed.
glissando: a technique adopted by string players for difficult runs.
subito piano: indicates an opportunity for some obscure orchestra player to become a soloist.
risoluto: indicates to orchestras that they are to stubbornly maintain the correct tempo no matter what the conductor tries to do.
senza sordino: a term used to remind the player that he forgot to put his mute on a few measures back.
preparatory beat: a threat made to singers, i.e., sing, or else….
crescendo: a reminder to the performer that he has been playing too loudly.
conductor: a musician who is adept at following many people at the same time.
clef: something to jump from before the viola solo.
transposition: the act of moving the relative pitch of a piece of music that is too low for the basses to a point where it is too high for the sopranos.
vibrato: used by singers to hide the fact that they are on the wrong pitch.
half step: the pace used by a cellist when carrying his instrument.
coloratura soprano: a singer who has great trouble finding the proper note, but who has a wild time hunting for it.
chromatic scale: an instrument for weighing that indicates half-pounds.
bar line: a gathering of people, usually among which may be found a musician or two.
ad libitum: a premiere.
beat: what music students do to each other with their instruments. The down beat is performed on top of the head, while the up beat is struck under the chin.
cadence: when everybody hopes you’re going to stop, but you don’t.
diatonic: low-calorie Schweppes.
lamentoso: with handkerchiefs.
virtuoso: a musician with very high morals. (I know one)
music: a complex organizations of sounds that is set down by the composer, incorrectly interpreted by the conductor, who is ignored by the musicians, the result of which is ignored by the audience.
oboe: an ill wind that nobody blows good.
tenor: two hours before a nooner.
diminished fifth: an empty bottle of Jack Daniels.
perfect fifth: a full bottle of Jack Daniels.
ritard: there’s one in every family.
relative major: an uncle in the Marine Corps. Continue reading

Judge denies Lords of Chaos ringleader’s request to overturn death sentence

Mug shot of Kevin Foster.

Image via Wikipedia

Lee Circuit Judge Edward Volz has issued an order denying convicted killer Kevin Foster’s latest effort to overturn his death sentence.

Foster, ringleader of the Lords of Chaos, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 1998 for the 1996 murder of Riverdale High School band teacher Mark Schwebes.

Assistant State Attorneys Jennifer Gutmore and David Maijala handled the post-conviction proceedings.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of the case and believe that it is just,” Gutmore said in a statement.

To read the complete statement and Judge’s findings, go here: Foster Order

No More Ms. Nice

I’ve often wondered if Peter was really asking, “If someone sins against me, seriously, how many times must I forgive? Maybe Peter was thinking –“Okay, other rabbis have taught that three times is enough to forgive, but Jesus, well, he’s always pushing us to do more, to be more, maybe seven times will please him.” Maybe Peter thought this would be showing extreme forgiveness. I mean, after all, how many times could you forgive a person, the same person, for a sin against you, perhaps the same sin? And how great a sin must we forgive? I think that Peter wanted to put a legal limit on forgiveness. He wanted a number where he could finally say, “That’s it! I’ve had it! I’ve done everything I was supposed to do – No more Mr. Nice Guy for me!”

Haven’t we all felt that way at some point? We all carry old baggage where we keep our hurts hidden away. We all have grudges that we lug around, sacks full of hurt and piles of pain that we just can’t let go of. We all have that burden which prevents us from fulfilling our God given destiny.

For many years I carried the burden of an unforgiving spirit after the murder of my brother. Those years were filled with pain, hate, rage and fear. God took all of that hurt and pain and gave it meaning. He helped me overcome my unforgiving spirit through prayer and His faithfulness until ten years later when I was able to forgive one of the young men imprisoned for my brother’s murder. God gave meaning to my ordeal by allowing me to bring His message of love to others who are crime victims and those who have been incarcerated for their acts of violence. Now, each day I try to remember the forgiveness I have been given as I think of forgiving others.

“Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” ~ Matthew 18:21-22 (NRSV)