On February 18, 2016 the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference held a vigil for Sandra Bland. #ITooResist
The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference Inc. (SDPC), a social justice organization which reaches African American congregations from around the country, has received a three-year grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. to create an initiative to enable congregations and organizations to address and correct the economic challenges facing pastoral leaders.
The Endowment is giving $28 million in grants as a part of its commitment to support pastoral leadership. SDPC was one of 28 organizations selected for this initiative. A variety of Christian traditions have received grant awards.
With this grant, SDPC will establish the SDPC Micah Institute and Ministerial Excellence Fund, which will be a long-term program to foster pastoral excellence and which will serve as a financial investment to help serve and sustain ministerial excellence in the communities represented by SDPC member congregations.
The SDPC Micah Institute and Ministerial Excellence Fund will “foster well-being and self-care of clergy, congregations and communities,” according to SDPC General Secretary Iva Carruthers.
Carruthers said that clergy leaders and the congregational constituency of SDPC “find themselves at the epicenter of sites of dire need to address gaps in social and resource opportunities for America’s most marginalized communities, as well as the overall need for racial healing throughout the nation. The role of faith leaders in these communities has proven to be unique and consequential.”
Leveraging this national Lilly initiative, SDPC will deepen its capacity to catalyze clergy and congregational engagement in community-based economic development. A “Theology of Sufficiency” – countering the unfair distribution of available resources – will be used. The target audience and partners for this project will include pastors, congregational lay leaders, seminaries and their students.
SDPC will announce the launch date for the SDPC Micah Institute and Ministerial Excellence Fund in the first quarter of 2016.
Faith leaders from across the country of all denominations are criticizing the recent decision by the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury to absolve the police officers who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio in November of 2014.
The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc., (SDPC) an organization comprised of pastors of various denominations from all over the country, issued a statement this week sharply critical of the action taken by the Grand Jury and presented by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty.
Dr. Iva Carruthers, General Secretary of SDPC, said that the lack of accountability required of Officer Timothy Loehmann and the system represents yet another instance of abject racism on the part of law enforcement and the criminal justice system as it pertains to its treatment of black people. “The prosecutorial process has become an instrument of the state, violating not only the civil rights but the human rights of young Rice.”
SDPC churches are united in their anger and disappointment in the Rice case. We are as concerned for the spirit of the Rice family, which must not only deal with the death of the 12- year-old, but also with the moral injury being inflicted by the justice system.
“Ohio is an open carry state,” said Carruthers. “There is something very wrong here. And it is inconceivable that the offending officers could not have yelled out a warning to Tamir in the 3 seconds it took to drive up on him, get out of their vehicle, and shoot him at point-blank range.”
The lack of respect for the humanity of Tamir and his sister is unconscionable. The officers let Tamir lie wounded and unattended for some time, and handcuffed his young sister and put her in the police car when she realized what had happened to her brother.
Carruthers and SDPC are joining other faith leaders from across the country in their protest and demands that serious and substantial changes be made to the justice system in this nation. “It is past time for state-sanctioned violence to be outdone,” she said, “and it is past time for faith leaders, no matter their color and/or nationality, to remain silent in the face of such violation of human dignity.”
SDPC will continue to work with other faith leaders to petition Attorney General Lynch to investigate the Rice case. Over 50,000 signatures have been collected on one such petition. “It is time for the Church to speak up and be heard.” she said. “This madness has to stop.”
The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc. (SDPC) is urging the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to stand by their call for decriminalization of drug use and possession in the United States and around the world.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) appeared set to call on governments to end the criminalization of drug use and possession, according to DPA Honorary Board Member Richard Branson — but in a dramatic turn of events withdrew its briefing paper under pressure from at least one country, according to the BBC.
“Locking up people for non-violent drug use is inhumane, immoral and ineffective, said Dr. Iva Carruthers, general secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference. “At the center of SDPC’s thrust is our belief that there needs to be greater emphasis on policies that focus on Harm Reduction over criminalization.”
SDPC, an interdenominational network of African American congregations, clergy and lay leaders is actively engaged in organizing multifaith activities for the upcoming 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on global drug policy.
In a recent meeting with a multifaith group of leaders in early October, SDPC outlined a working paper to be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session in April, 2016. That paper argues for a shift in the ideology and practice in the United States concerning drug use and possession.
The “War on Drugs,” begun in the 1980s, has made the United States the leading modern nation in the world in incarceration rates, owed largely to vast numbers of persons in jail and prison for drug use and possession. The majority of those incarcerated on these drug charges, according to statistics, are non-violent offenders.
Practices of incarcerating low-level non violent drug offenders in the U.S. has only resulted in mass incarceration and violations of human rights, impinging upon family structure, public health and general community health. While it is a fact that people of all races suffer from the current policies of criminalization of drug use and possession, it is also a fact that the majority of people so affected are poor people of color.
SDPC is advocating for “drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, and health and human rights,” as outlined by the Drug Policy Alliance. (DPA). Instead of increasing incarceration rates for persons who are addicted to drugs, SDPC and others are advocating for a shift in investment from public and private prison systems to investment in restoring community supports and health systems. Such a shift would dramatically decrease the numbers of people basically thrown into a cycle of incarceration with few rehabilitative options. We want the United Nations to proceed with the call.