VOICE's Journey for Restorative Justice

This is part of our Fight for the Future campaign. We are asking supporters to make a monthly financial contribution to VOICE to give us the resources to continue and expand our work. Please give generously.

Sundra Flansburg is a leader at First Unitarian Church, co-chair of our Restorative Justice Action Team and past VOICE Board President. 

It was in a VOICE meeting about five years ago when I first felt in my soul the social and political segregation we live in here in Oklahoma. I – a white woman – was talking with an African American man from one of our other member institutions. We were sharing parts of our story with each other, and he spoke of being out of prison and the struggles he had reestablishing himself coming out of incarceration, even with his resolve and the help of his church. He brought up his monthly payments to the court.

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Story of the State Superintendent

This is part of our Fight for the Future campaign. We are asking supporters to make a monthly financial contribution to VOICE to give us the resources to continue and expand our work. Please give generously.

Emily Sewell is a leader at Mayflower Congregational Church. She has been a speech-language pathologist in Oklahoma's public schools for more than 30 years. 

This event was sponsored by VOICE Action Fund Inc.

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Among some of the first issues VOICE sought to address were concerns about policies and experiences of families in our public schools. After more than a year of conversations, meetings, research actions and event planning VOICE engaged the candidates for State Superintendent of Education. VOICE came to life for me at the planning meetings for, and at the Accountability Session for State Superintendent of Education which was held in June of 2014 at Oklahoma City University.

 

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Testing Troubles

This is part of our Fight for the Future campaign. We are asking supporters to make a monthly financial contribution to VOICE to give us the resources to continue and expand our work. Please give generously.

Fr. Tim Luschen is the lead Pastor at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. St. Charles is a founding member of VOICE. 

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St. Charles Catholic Parish is a mixed community that includes families with various cultural backgrounds. There are families of northern European descent that have been in the United States for generations right next to new immigrant families from eastern Asia, Africa, Mexico, and Central and South America. It is a blessing to have so many families from so many places worshipping and serving under one roof. Some of the families are very recent arrivals, so English is a new language for them. The American cultural system that is unique to Oklahoma is also quite unfamiliar. We have seen the struggles that present to many families in various manifestations, including in the local public school system.

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High Stakes Testing

This is part of our Fight for the Future campaign. We are asking supporters to make a monthly financial contribution to VOICE to give us the resources to continue and expand our work. Please give generously.

Heather Sparks is a member of the Oklahoma Education Association, an Assistant Principal in the Mid-Del School District and the 2009 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.

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Tears, anxiety, frustration. These are just a few of the words parents used to describe the effects of high stakes testing on their children in 2012. The VOICE Education Action Team studied the testing issue extensively before creating a presentation that educated the public about the origins and impact of such testing in schools. We then took the presentation on the road in 2013-14 to more than 75 venues across the state of Oklahoma where families often shared their personal experiences with testing.

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How VOICE Started

This is part of our Fight for the Future campaign. We are asking supporters to make a monthly financial contribution to VOICE to give us the resources to continue and expand our work. Please give generously.

Jim Rowan was the President of the Oklahoma Sponsoring Committee that later became VOICE. He is a long-time attorney with a focus in defending people facing the death penalty.

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Voices Organized in Civic Engagement (VOICE) got its start February 12, 2012. On that day twelve hundred and three people met together at the First Christian Church on NW 36th Street and Walker in Oklahoma City for the founding convention. 

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What VOICE Gave Me

This is part of our Fight for the Future campaign. We are asking supporters to make a monthly financial contribution to VOICE to give us the resources to continue and expand our work. Please give generously.

Rev. Jonalu Johnstone is a Development Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Manhattan and was the Program Minister at First Unitarian Church in Oklahoma City for more than 12 years where she was a founding leader of VOICE.

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I got involved with VOICE as it was forming because I knew a little about community organizing and primarily knew that other ministers had found it to be a great place for their lay leaders to receive training.  I had long been active in social and political justice-making and thought, “Hey, here’s another tool!”

It turned out to be so much more.

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Fight for the Future Campaign

This is part of our Fight for the Future campaign. We are asking for supporters to make a monthly financial contribution to VOICE to give us the resources to continue and expand our work. Please give generously.

Rev. Jim Gragg is the President of the VOICE Education Fund and long time leader in the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church.

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As VOICE has listened and organized during the last six years, we know that the need in our community is great and that there is more to be done. VOICE is a coalition of congregations, nonprofits, unions and associations that come together out of a deep sense of concern for the pressures facing families in our community.  

At the heart of our work, we practice the “radical” notion that if we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, we ought to at least talk with them. We have built this organization as an antidote to those politics-as-usual forces that seek to keep us constantly polarized and fearful. We have built this organization to bring together people who don’t usually talk with one another. We have built this organization to provide individuals and families with a way to seek common ground and to stand together on things that matter.

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