Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Gathering at Lipscomb Unites Resources from Faith, Legal Communities

April 8, 2014

A first-of-its-kind statewide gathering of faith and legal professionals brought together more than 100 religious leaders and attorneys at Lipscomb University in Nashville Monday.

The Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance Summit is an initiative of the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission, conceived to develop ways to collaborate to help underserved Tennesseans.

The Summit featured Paul Monteiro and Bruce Strom, both national leaders in outreach to faith organizations and partnerships between faith organizations and the legal industry. Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder, the Court’s liaison to the Access to Justice (ATJ) Commission, also spoke to the importance of justice issues.

Paul Monteiro worked with President Barrack Obama as part of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He served as the point person for all outreach to faith-based organizations, Arab Americans, and anti-poverty groups.

Bruce Strom started Administer Justice, one of the nation’s leading Christian legal aid organizations. He now serves as President and CEO of Gospel Justice Initiative, a national effort to engage Christ followers to serve the legal and spiritual needs of the poor.

Justice Janice Holder emphasized the tremendous demand for pro bono legal services to help underserved Tennesseans with civil legal needs. She highlighted the good work of the Commission, the Tennessee Faith & Justice Alliance, and other programs aimed at expanding access to justice for low income Tennesseans.

“The Commission is thrilled that we had participants from all three grand divisions of the state and thanks the participants for donating their time to attend. We anticipate that this call to action will result in more citizens in need of civil legal help receiving that assistance,” said Billye Sanders, ATJ Commissioner and Chair of the Faith-Based Initiatives Committee. 

Participants also heard from members of the Tennessee Faith & Justice Alliance on their respective pro bono legal advice clinics. The legal clinics sponsored by the Lipscomb University Institute for Law, Justice & Society and Compassionate Counsel, a non-profit Christian legal aid ministry, were featured.

The faith-based initiative that pairs attorneys and places of worship that the Faith and Justice Alliance piloted with the Nashville District of the United Methodist Church also was highlighted. The audience had the opportunity to meet with others in their geographic region to brainstorm ways to meet the needs of their religious congregations.

The ATJ Commission requested that each participant commit to volunteering for an existing initiative or to implementing an initiative in their religious community. Members of the Commission’s Faith-Based Initiatives Committee and the Tennessee Faith & Justice Alliance will assist participants in meeting their commitment.

“This event would not have been possible without the support of and resources provided by Lipscomb University, which so generously provided a location,” Sanders said. “AOC Staff, Anne-Louise Wirthlin, and Christina Magráns did an excellent job producing the Summit. “

The entire Summit was recorded and will be available online in the upcoming weeks. For more information on the ATJ Commission and the Tennessee Faith & Justice Alliance, please go www.JusticeForAllTn.com.

Bruce Strom is President and CEO of Gospel Justice Initiative.

Justice Janice Holder speaks to the pressing need for pro bono legal services in Tennessee.

Paul Monteiro is a partner at Value Partnership, which specializes in creating public –private partnerships between faith-based organizations and non-profits.