CROWN HEIGHTS — A neighborhood church is partnering with Brooklyn prosecutors to make life a little easier for formerly incarcerated people and their families, the district attorney announced this week.
In its new “Rephidim Ministry” program, the First Baptist Church of Crown Heights will offer a series of workshops, panel discussion and housing resources to those who have been imprisoned, said Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson and the church’s leader, Rev. Daryl Bloodsaw.
“It is essential for the faith-based community to open their doors as a place of refuge for both families and individuals during and after an incarcerative stay,” the reverend said in an announcement about the new program.
“If we, the church, are not prepared to do this then we should be prepared to explain why not.”
The inaugural event in the new Rephidim Ministry — named after the Biblical place where Moses is said to have struck a rock to give water to the Israelites — is set to take place next week, on June 9, with a forum on incarceration moderated by the coordinator of the Kings County Re-entry Task Force, Dr. Vanda Seward.
District Attorney Thompson said in a press release about the program that he believes improving “the quality of life for all Brooklyn residents” means helping “families heal” through community partnerships with houses of worship.
“The pursuit of justice and public safety should include appropriate counseling, employment and education resources to formerly incarcerated individuals and their families,” he said.
The First Baptist Church of Crown Heights was founded in 1953 by its longtime leader, Rev. Clarence Norman Sr., who died at the age of 85 last summer.
Under his leadership, the church grew substantially and became involved in providing support to the community in the form of housing — a local development corporation founded by Norman Sr. in the 1980s saw new apartment buildings for seniors constructed in Crown Heights — ministries to the homeless and job training.
The first Rephidim Ministry forum will take place on June 9 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Crown Heights located at 450 Eastern Parkway at the corner of Rogers Avenue.