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Inspiration and Training in Prophetic Care for Children: 2017 Proctor Institute

Join members of the Pan-Methodist Campaign for Children family and other faithful child advocates July 17-21 for Children’s Defense Fund’s (CDF's) 2017 Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute “Hope for Our Children: From Weeping to Working for Justice for Our Children.” Clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children will gather for spiritual renewal, networking, movement-building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the intersection of race and poverty. This intergenerational, interracial and multi-ethnic gathering is a profound experience of Beloved Community in the serene setting of CDF Haley Farm, once home to Roots author Alex Haley, in Clinton, Tennessee.

Early risers can start the day with Meditations for the Journey led by Dr. Frederick J. Streets before breakfast. All will then gather for powerful preaching by the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr. and the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III at Morning Devotions accompanied by the joyous, rousing music of the Resurrection Choir. The mornings will continue with thought-provoking Bible/Theological Study led by the Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner and the Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce, who is serving as the Chief Religion Curator & Director of the Center for African American Religious Life at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture from 2016-2017. Dr. Pierce is also the Director of the Center for Black Church Studies and Associate Professor of Religion and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary.
Proctor Children and Justice Plenaries offer insight and information to generate new conversations, strategies, and approaches to improving the lives of our nation’s children. Tuesday’s plenary, “Where Are We? Poor Children in Rich America” will focus on ending child poverty, with panelists Dr. America Bracho, Executive Director of Latino Health Access, a center for health promotion and disease prevention located in Santa Ana, California, Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby, and others. Wednesday’s plenary, “Who Are We? Race, Class, and Power,” will focus on the intersections of race, class, and power in a conversation among Brittany Packnett, Vice-President of National and Community Alliances for Teach for America and Black Lives Matter activist, Dr. Patrick Reyes, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Doctoral Initiatives at the Forum for Theological Exploration, Dr. Mark Taylor, Princeton Theological Seminary Professor of Theology and Culture, and others. Thursday’s plenary, “What Have We Learned? Education and Our Children” will focus on challenges and opportunities for improving education, especially for children in poverty and children of color, in this new political context, with Dr. Wendy Puriefoy, former Director of Education at the Barr Foundation where she led efforts to break the links between zip code and school achievement in Boston, Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, Professor of Higher Education and Director of the Center for Higher Education Enterprise at The Ohio State University, and others. Each Children and Justice plenary will also feature the voices of young people.
Twenty-four interactive afternoon workshops will help equip you with new skills and strategies to build the movement for children. Options range from community organizing to transforming congregations to trauma and healing and more. More than a dozen late afternoon choices include “Movement-building through the Arts” options (dance, music, visual arts, and spoken word), self-care for activists, and more.
Each evening concludes with the Great Preacher Series featuring Rev. Willie Francois II, Rev. Cynthia Jarvis, Rev. Traci Blackmon, and Rev. Dr. Luke Powery. You won’t want to miss CDF president Marian Wright Edelman who will offer a welcoming Call at the beginning of the Institute. The week will end on Friday with three concurrent sessions—Children’s Sabbath Organizing; Intergenerational Conversation, and Dr. Walter Fluker on The Ground Has Shifted—followed by a closing charge, celebration of our commitment, and a service of communion with Dr. Frederick Haynes preaching. The Friday closing will include a presentation by the children who participated in CDF's Proctor Freedom School and contributions by members of the late afternoon “Movement-Building through the Arts” sessions through music, dance, spoken word and visual arts.
What is hard to capture on paper but you will discover in person is that CDF’s Proctor Institute isn’t a “conference” but a community. When we gather for a session it is not as “audience” but congregation, and we are not “participants” so much as family. Working to make a difference in the lives of children in your congregation, community, state and nation is hard work, often draining or discouraging. It can feel overwhelming and our efforts can feel inadequate. CDF’s Proctor Institute is a time and place to replenish and renew your mind, heart, and spirit, to connect with others who share your heart for children and passion for justice. You will leave with fresh inspiration, new ideas, innovative strategies and models, and more partners for your work and witness.
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