Peace with Justice Sunday funds go to Alaska Innocence Project

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Each year, United Methodists celebrate six special Sundays, where churches around the globe receive a
special offering to benefit a specific cause. Each June, we receive gifts for Peace with Justice Sunday, in
which half of the receipts go to the general church for distribution as grants, and half is retained in the
annual conference for ongoing local peace and justice efforts.

For the past few years, the Leadership Team of the Alaska Conference of the United Methodist Church
has awarded these funds to the Alaska Innocence Project, an Alaska-based non-profit corporation that
provides legal, educational, and charitable services to identify and exonerate individuals who have been
wrongfully convicted in the state of Alaska, and to provide educational opportunities that foster a
culture that champions the defense of the innocent.

While we recognize we have a tremendous legal and criminal justice system in our country, it is far from
perfect, and sometimes innocent persons are punished for crimes they did not commit. It has been
shown that indigenous persons and persons of color are wrongfully incarcerated at disproportionally
higher rates, and so partnering with the Alaska Innocence Project allows Alaska United Methodists to
continue in our anti-racism work and live into our Wesleyan heritage by being in ministry with those
who are imprisoned.

While the Innocence Project operates on a fairly meager budget, the fact remains that criminal justice
proceedings cost money. From staffing, to the process of discovery, to hiring expert witnesses to provide
testimony, bringing justice to the innocent can only happen through generous partnerships like this.

If you (and your congregation) would like to know more about the Alaska Innocence Project and how
you can participate in this work, please visit alaskainnocence.org or schedule a visit with board president
and St John member Mark Johnson. We are also currently seeking new board members who are
passionate and committed to the work as Jesus described when he read from the scroll of Isaiah in his
home town:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has
sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go
free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Thank you for you continued partnership as together we seek to address systemic issues of racism and
injustice, together.
The Rev. Andy Bartel, Lead Pastor St John UMC Anchorage
Alaska Innocence Project Board Member

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