Network of faith groups plans 75 virtual meetings to find ‘common ground’ on systemic racism, homelessness

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About 45 Lawrence community members participate in a virtual group discussion as part of a new initiative by the local faith group coalition Justice Matters on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. The large group then broke into smaller groups for discussions.

Justice Matters, a local coalition of 17 faith groups, aims to bring community members together for 75 virtual small group discussions over the next four weeks.

The goal of the new initiative is to find “common ground” among participants on issues of systemic racism, homelessness, criminal justice reform and racially disproportionate discipline in the Lawrence school district, according to a news release from the organization.

Each meeting will begin with a parable that alludes to “going upstream” to address problems at their roots rather than simply helping people once they are in crisis.

“Out-of-school suspensions in Lawrence public schools and the inmates crowding our jail are disproportionately Black and Brown. Those are the facts,” said Cynthia Eubanks, a member of Ninth Street Baptist Church and participant in designing the discussion format, in the release. “But telling stories instead of hitting them over the head with facts often disarms people’s impulse for defensiveness while capturing their imagination.”

The group hopes to include 1,000 participants in the discussions, according to the release. Anyone interested in participating can send an email to or contact Justice Matters’ community organizer, Ben MacConnell, at 785-218-0941.


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