Justice Encounters – Civil Rights Immersion

Justice Encounters: Civil Rights Immersion July 12-16, 2023

Join us for three full days in Montgomery, Alabama (and surrounding cities) for a trip that immerses a team of up to 30 individuals in both the history of the Civil Rights Movement and the current realities of racial justice in America. Our team will spend three full days visiting museums, memorials, and historic landmarks, as well as hearing from racial justice leaders in the Alabama community. 

Some sites we intend to visit include (but are not limited to):

  • Equal Justice Initiative Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice (Montgomery, AL)
  • Edmund Pettis Bridge (Selma, AL)
  • Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, AL)
  • 16th Street Baptist Church (Birmingham, AL)

The immersion experience was originally envisioned by the now Bishop Delores “Dee” Williamston during her time in the Great Plains Annual Conference. In 2007, Bishop Williamston learned of the lynching of a 19-year-old man named Dana Adams in Salina, Kansas in a book called ““Fire on the Prairie: Methodism in the History of Kansas.” Over the next decade, Bishop Williamston worked in collaboration with the Equal Justice Initiative through their Community Remembrance Project to dedicate a new historical marker in memory of Dana Adams in Salina on June 18, 2022. This legacy inspires this second Justice Encounter.

Now, both Bishop Williamston of the Louisiana Annual Conference and Bishop David Wilson of the Great Plains Annual Conference will be joining this second Justice Encounter sponsored by the Great Plains Conference Mercy & Justice Team. We will also be joined by our 2023 Great Plains Micah Corps summer interns. In our commitment to cultivating a culture in the Great Plains Conference where justice is as normal as mercy, we believe that as people of faith we are called to nurture authentic, liberative cross-racial friendships, and to address racial injustice in our Conference and beyond.

The Mercy & Justice Team has caught a God-sized vision of developing leaders for the work of racial justice across the conference and your participation in this practice of immersive, embodied learning is a first step in raising up 26 diverse leaders for the work of racial justice in the Great Plains Conference by 2026.

We will stay in Montgomery, AL at a local hotel and have day trips planned within Montgomery and to Birmingham and Selma, Alabama. We are working on meal plans that support local businesses, particularly BIPOC-led establishments. We will travel around the area in passenger vans. We encourage rooming with a team member to build relationships and connections for the work that will continue beyond the trip (although single rooms are available for participants as needed at an additional cost). We will participate in personal and group reflections before, during, and following the immersion. Our work will be highly relational and will ask you to engage deeply in what you see, hear, and feel throughout the experience.

The total cost for the immersion is estimated to be around $1000 per participant. The Mercy & Justice Team has committed to funding at least $550 per participant* which makes the participant’s cost only $450/person. We are a team committed to justice and know that there are people who should participate on this trip but may be limited by the financial investment. Please note there is a box on the registration form (once accepted) to check if additional financial assistance would make it possible for you to participate. All participants must pay the $150 deposit to confirm your spot.

We encourage any clergy and laity in the Great Plains Annual Conference to apply at the link below. We will be prioritizing applications from young adults (aged 16-35) and people of color.

The first applications will be reviewed May 14, and applicants will be notified by May 15. After that, we will review applications on a rolling basis until the thirty available spots are filled or by June 1. Applicants will then be placed on a waiting list to fill any available cancellations.

For more information contact our team leader, Rev. Maddie Johnson, at mmjohnson@greatplainsumc.org.

Download flier for more information

Apply for a spot on the team. Thirty applicants will be selected.

*GCORR awards grant – A $10,000 grant from the General Commission on Religion and Race has helped partially fund both the border immersion and Civil Rights immersion for those in the Great Plains Conference wanting to grow in their education and justice work.