Forgiving more than we can expect


Story Corp, from National Public Radio, had a story this week about a woman who has demonstrated the principles of restorative justice in a way that few of us could even begin to imagine.

“It begins with the gang-related murder of her son, Laramiun Byrd, and it extends from a conscious decision to forgive the killer to developing a loving relationship with him.

For people who champion Restorative Justice, this can only be a story of inspiration. Involving victims and offenders in restorative conferences early on might increase the likelihood of phenomenal outcomes like these. It is not an easy process, and not everyone in the justice system will even be willing to consider restorative options. But the story of Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel stands as a testimony to what is sometimes possible.”

From here along with a link to the radio program.

Not familiar with the term “Restorative Justice”? You might want to start here. The shorthand description of RJ is, as put by Wikipedia, a decision to focus less on the legal issues and more on the specific needs of the victim and the perpetrator. It’s not unlike the principles of reconciliation that were used by the South African Truth Commission as a tool to move that country forward after Apartheid came to an end.

Do you think this is realistic vision for Americans? If not for all Americans, how about us Episcopalians? What would RJ look like with in the church context?

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Thanks, Nicholas, for sharing this story.

As a fellow Episcopalian, I believe Restorative Justice (RJ) practices could be incorporated into a number of church settings. In our anti-racism programs, the RJ method of using Peacemaking Circles could be a natural fit.

Not all RJ settings are connected to the criminal justice system. In fact, the majority of practitioners are serving in community-based organizations, applying the principles to a wide range of conflicts.

My own objective with my blog,, is to reach out to "seat-of-the-pants" peacemakers who often find themselves in situations in which they feel called to mediate conflicts and make peace. I'd like to expose some of these folk to opportunities for training and support.

I invite you to visit my blog. Subscribe if you like it.

Ken Kimsey

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