Archbishop Jose H. Gomez
The fourth annual Court and Clergy Conference, sponsored by the Los Angeles Superior Court and Fuller Seminary's Office for Urban Initiatives and Office of Alumni and Church Relations, was held at Fuller on Monday, May 5.
Keynote speakers at this year's conference called "Building Community with Justice," were: The Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez, Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, and Father Greg Boyle, S.J. of Homeboy Industries.
The conference, which brought together judges and members of the Los Angeles Superior Court, and more than 200 interfaith clergy members from throughout Los Angeles, was designed to help equip clergy leaders to better understand how to advise their congregation members involved in legal proceedings. The overall goal of the gathering was to help churches and other faith institutions work effectively and cooperatively with a sometimes-complex legal and justice system.
In a welcoming address, Fuller President Mark Labberton shared encouragement for the "strong dedication" by judges and clergy, as they worked together on some of the most difficult challenges of the day. "The Los Angeles Superior Court, with the leadership of Presiding Judge David S. Wesley, is developing strong connections with communities throughout Los Angeles County. This collaboration will help address pressing concerns in our communities, and provide a model for replication across the country."
Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard provided a welcome from the City of Pasadena, and U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu presented certificates of appreciation to the Los Angeles Superior Court and to Dr. Sofia Herrera of Fuller's Office for Urban Initiatives and to Bert Jacklitch of Fuller's Office of Alumni and Church Relations: "For the problem-solving innovation and initiative you have demonstrated in building collaborations and partnerships between the Los Angeles Superior Courts and various faith-based congregations throughout Los Angeles County. With congratulations and appreciation for your pioneering efforts to make Los Angeles County a better place for all of us!"
The Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez also shared with the judges and clergy attendees: "As we all know, when a case gets into our judicial system, it's often a sign that something has broken down or failed in these other areas. Let's keep working together (clergy and judges), as partners, to build justice and understanding and to make Los Angeles stronger...We are grateful for what you do to temper justice with mercy and a concern for rehabilitation."
The day-long Court and Clergy conference provided an overview of procedures and processes in the court system. There were also opportunities for attendees to hear panel presentations during which judges offered information about specific courts and procedures such as: juvenile delinquency and dependency; child abuse and mandatory reporting; drug, homeless and veterans' courts, and mental health issues and family law. Judges also met personally with clergy during lunch and break times.
Father Boyle brought the conference to a close with a reminder that there is no justice or peace without kinship, and that the path to building a community with justice is by way of "the spirit and courage of tenderness." It was fitting that the conference opened and closed with a call to exert mercy, kindness, and compassion as a pathway to community and, ultimately, justice.
"Because of your leadership and participation," Dr. Labberton told the conference participants, "we can better fulfill the goal of this conference: to build communities with justice."
For more information about the ongoing activities of Fuller's Office for Urban Initiatives, please contact Janice Chan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 626-304-3787.
In group picture (L to R): Phillip Sanchez, City of Pasadena Chief of Police; Honorable David Wesley, LA Superior Court Presiding Judge; Mark Labberton, President Fuller Theological Seminary; Sofia Herrera, Associate Director Fuller Seminary Office for Urban Initiatives, Archbishop J. Gomez, Archdiocese of Los Angeles; and Janet Labberton, educator and community advocate.