Stormy Questions

Public forum on May 18 explores issues of slavery and mass incarceration

As the 2013 event in the Wayne H. Bell Lectureship on Ministry, Vine Street Christian Church and the Disciples of Christ Historical Society invite the public to a forum wrestling with the historical issue of the church and slavery, the modern parallel of mass incarceration, and ways in which the church can recover its prophetic voice by forming communities with those condemned by the criminal justice system.

Saturday, May 18
9 AM - 2 PM

Vine Street Christian Church
4101 Harding Pike
Nashville, TN 37205

Box lunch provided

To reserve your free space & box lunch, call or email
Vine Street Christian Church 615-269-5614

150 years have passed since the Emancipation Proclamation. By examining the church’s response - or lack thereof - to slavery, we can see more clearly the oppression resulting from a war on drugs that has spanned four decades and resulted in unprecedented numbers of people, mostly minorities, being incarcerated. Informed by the past, the church must discern how to respond in the present to systemic injustice.

As Michelle Alexander has pointed out in her book, The New Jim Crow, we have an analogous evil in our midst today, which is the mass incarceration that has resulted from four decades of a drug war that has almost exclusively targeted poor communities of color, and a punitive, adversarial criminal justice system that defines justice in terms of process, not outcome, and provides little opportunity for healing and reconciliation. If the church is to take seriously the gospel of following a condemned criminal who proclaimed freedom for prisoners, we must acknowledge that we are failing in the same way as our nineteenth century predecessors did.


  • The Churches and Antebellum Slavery
  • The New Jim Crow: The War on Drugs, The Prison Industrial Complex/Mass Incarceration
  • Visits with people who have experienced and are experiencing injustice firsthand
  • The Response of the Churches Today – What Can We Do?

Panel discussions, workshops, and question and answer sessions featuring church historian and archivist Sara Harwell, former prosecutor Preston Shipp, former death row inmate Ndume Olatushani, minister Thomas Kleinert, prison chaplain Jeannie Alexander and community organizer Janet Wolf.

Moderated by Glenn Thomas Carson, President, Disciples of Christ Historical Society.

To reserve your free space & box lunch, call or email
Vine Street Christian Church