Clergy in Court
Clergy in Court is an initiative developed by Harvest Family Life in conjunction with CPS to introduce clergy and leaders from faith communities to the plight children in the child welfare system face daily. In the court room, clergy will hear stories and testimonies, and also see the faces of dear children so desperate for love. In the court room, clergy will be awakened to the needs of children either in their own communities or just miles away. We believe that once pastors understand the gravity of this local crisis, they will be driven to lead their churches in intervention.
How it began:
Bishop Aaron Blake and his wife Mary fostered six young men when Harvest Family LIfe was in its infancy. Then, one day, Bishop went to court with one of his foster sons.
The court hearing determined parental rights because of the extended amount of time the child had been in foster care. His parents had been allowed to show their desire to be responsible parents, but the child's parents failed to appear in court in this particular case. Right then, with his foster son at his side, they witnessed his parents’ rights terminated due to abandonment. Although this was just another case for the judge, this was Bishop’s Son in whom they were talking. Bishop left the courtroom staggering at the thought of how many children were orphaned right there in that courtroom. With a broken heart, Bishop Blake asked fellow pastors to join him in court the next time.
The judge had no problem with the pastors attending the court proceedings, and the group was asked to meet 30 minutes before the hearing. It was to be allotted time to discuss the reason for the hearing, address the court procedures and provide an overview of the agencies involved with the child (CPS, CASA, etc.). Bishop knew there would be several questions going through the pastors’ minds that could not be answered during the court hearing, so this was a crash course to give insight into what would occur in the courtroom.
The pastors went to court that day and met to discuss what they saw, heard, and felt. The pastors left that day sharing the brokenness of Bishop Blake. They also shared not just mere awareness but a determination to get involved.
Clergy in Court is now listed as an official program with CPS to raise awareness for pastors/clergy and hopefully have them leave the court with a desire to get involved in the communities where the kids come. Alleviating the child welfare crisis isn’t just about enrolling more foster and adoptive parents. It's about partnering with pastors in the communities where the kids come from and serving alongside them in some hard and dark places where the light of Jesus and the hope of the gospel can be shared in both word and deed.
Are you ready to go to court?
Contact us for your court date!