“In 1995, a man was shot. Within America, this occurs much too often. What made this murder more pertinent was that the man was young and the location was on the steps of a church.”from Prison Theology, edited by Chris Barbera
The 25th Anniversary of
Jesus the Liberator Seminary of Religious Justice
Jesus the Liberator Seminary was formed in 1995 in Buffalo, NY, as the result of members of the community asking the question, “What is the church doing to reduce violence?”
For the last 25 years, Jesus the Liberator Seminary has been dedicated to providing spiritual development and religious instruction to people living in low-income communities and to those who are formerly and currently incarcerated. The organization has been successful at facilitating a conversation between scholars, clergy, activists and incarcerated people. We value the voices of the incarcerated and respect and honor them as the experts of their own experience.
The organization started by offering theological education classes to low-income people free of charge. Later, the work involved sending a simple flyer to chaplains in an effort to distribute books and to solicit students for participation in unique, self-directed, correspondence courses. Over the years, volunteers reached over 750 low-income and incarcerated “students”, and distributed over 1,500 books to men and women residing in institutions across 36 states.
Throughout the years, we have accumulated a wealth of documents that mark the evolution of the organization and give voice to the most vulnerable in our society. Our most valuable possession is a collection of files representing the organization’s interaction with inmates over the years. Some inmates reached out with a simple correspondence asking for more information and others fulfilled assignments and wrote lengthy, seminary-worthy academic papers.
Starting in 2018, a handful of dedicated volunteers worked to organize and streamline this collection so that future Jesus the Liberator Seminary staff can assist scholars, church leaders and activists in their exploration of our collection. Documents from our organizational history are indexed chronologically in binders at the office.
If you would like to explore the archives, please contact us – and we will set up an appointment!
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”Angela Davis