2016 Peace & Justice Conference


Seeking a Future of Hope for our Children

“Open your ears to hear the pleading of mothers and fathers in all nations
who desperately seek a future of hope for their children.
Do not turn away from them. For in their welfare resides your welfare.”

Saturday, April 30
8:30 AM to 4:00 PM
223 S Washington, Charlotte, MI 48813

Learn & Grow

Join us as we learn about injustice many children face both globally and locally. Guest speakers include:

Renell Weathers, Community Engagement Director – Michigan League for Public Policy
The Michigan League for Public Policy is a nonpartisan policy institute dedicated to economic opportunity for all.  It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way and for over a century the League has provided research and advocacy to affect policy change to ensure economic security and well-being for Michigan residents.

Julia Koch, Director of Development & Advocacy – The Hope Project
The Hope Project is a grassroots, faith based 501(c)3 organization that works specifically to restore women and girls from the effects of sex trafficking and that advances awareness and prevention of human trafficking.  The Hope Project provides mentoring, individual counseling and group therapy services for female survivors of sex trafficking, as well as training for frontline workers such as child welfare workers, foster parents, educators and school counselors, medical staff, dental professionals, juvenile justice workers, and law enforcement.

Jon Gromek, Senior Regional Organizer – Bread for the World
Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decisions makers to end hunger at home and abroad. Moved by God’s grace in Jesus Christ, we advocate for a world without hunger.  The 2016 Offering of Letters “Survive and Thrive” is focused on the nutrition and health of mothers and children around the world.

Sister Cheryl Liske, Executive Director – Gamaliel Michigan
Gamaliel was founded in 1986 to train community and faith leaders to build political power and create organizations that unite people of diverse faiths and races. The mission of Gamaliel is to empower ordinary people to effectively participate in the political, environmental, social and economic decisions affecting their lives. Gamaliel’s diverse members apply their faith and values to the pursuit of equal opportunity for all, shared abundance, and stronger, more prosperous communities.

Tentative Schedule

8:30 Welcome & Registration
9:00 Spiritual Centering
10:00 Awareness Presentations
Child Poverty – Renell Weathers, Community Engagement Director – Michigan League for Public Policy
Child Abuse/Neglect – TBD
Human Trafficking – Julia Koch, Director of Development & Advocacy – The Hope Project
Childhood Trauma – TBD
12:00 Lunch
12:30 Offering of Letters – Jon Gromek, Senior Regional Organizer – Bread for the World
1:00 Prayer for Peace
1:15 Panel Discussion
2:15 Break
2:30 Small Group Debriefing & Sacred Conversations – Sister Cheryl Liske, Executive Director – Gamaliel of Michigan
3:30 Next Steps and Sending Forward
4:00 End of Conference
4:00 – 5:00 Optional Q & A Session with Community of Christ USA and Michigan Leaders

Take Action

Leave with the knowledge and tools to build relationships, listen, and work with others in your community to respond with action.

Our guest speakers bring a wealth of experience, knowledge, and expertise on how to recognize, understand, and respond to injustices facing children in your community.

As Communication Engagement Director for the Michigan League for Public Policy, Renell Weathers works with organizations throughout the state in connecting the impact of budget and tax policies to their communities. She is motivated by the belief that all children and adults deserve the opportunity to achieve their dreams.

Renell has recently graduated from the Leadership Institute for State-based Advocates with the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Prior to coming to the League, she worked as Senior District Representative for Michigan’s 7th Congressional District. She also served as Constituent Relations Director and District Representative for the Office of Michigan Senate Minority Leader, has managed a nonprofit that provided programs for youth and families, and operated a child care program. Renell’s career has been devoted to improving the results for families by promoting access to economic opportunities.

Julia Koch is the Director of Development and Advocacy for The Hope Project, a non-profit faith-based organization dedicated to restoration of women and girls from the effects of sex trafficking and advancing awareness and prevention of human trafficking. The Hope Project trains front line workers and is working to open a restorative home in West Michigan with comprehensive, wrap-around care for girls, ages 11 through 17, removed from sex trafficking.

Julia is a member of Phoenix Rising Muskegon County Coalition Against Human Trafficking, a collaborative spearheaded by The Hope Project that works to develop a comprehensive community-based approach to fighting human trafficking. The Coalition includes representatives from local law enforcement, the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office, Muskegon County Department of Human Services, HealthWest, the Child Abuse Council of Muskegon County, Every Woman’s Place/Webster House, Latinos Working for the Future, and community members.

Julia also belongs to the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, a coalition of over 90 member agencies, working to prevent trafficking, to pursue prosecution of perpetrators, and to protect trafficking victims. She is also involved in the Muskegon community through the Muskegon Rotary Club, Muskegon County Silent Observer Council, Women’s Division Chamber of Commerce, Woman’s Life Chapter 893, Lakeshore Ladies, and Forest Park Covenant Church.

Julia received a Master of Arts in Social Justice from Marygrove College in Detroit, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Central Michigan University and a Legal Assistant Associate Degree.

Prior to her work with The Hope Project, Julia spent almost 18 years working for State Representatives from the Muskegon area—Paul Baade in the 91st, and Julie Dennis and Doug Bennett in the 92nd. During those years she did constituent problem solving and worked on Muskegon area issues. In addition to her legislative work, she spent 9 years as a member of the Michigan Army National Guard in units in Midland, Bay City, and Lansing.

Sister Cheryl Liske, Executive Director of Gamaliel of Michigan, has over 25 years of organizing and training experience both on the state and national level. Sister Liske was the primary organizer in the development of all five of the Gamaliel organizations in Michigan — MOSES in Detroit, Ezekiel in Saginaw, ISAAC in Kalamazoo, JONAH in Battle Creek and Action of Greater Lansing. Cheryl guided each start-up organization and built the organizational structure for powerful, collaborative and sustainable organizations. Cheryl is a top tier trainer in the Gamaliel network and a member of the Gamaliel Central Staff.  Sister Liske has conducted leadership trainings for community organizing in Romania, South Africa and most recently in England, Scotland and North Wales.


The conference is free and open to all who would like to attend.  Registered Youth Workers will be staffing a child care room from children up to age 5 throughout the conference.  Activities and classes will be available for children in kindergarten through fifth grade during the conference.  Youth in sixth grade and above are welcome to participate in the conference or join the North Star Youth Group for activities during the day.  A free will donation will be accepted to cover the costs of the lunch provided by the hosting Charlotte Congregation.

Please register you and your family members using the online form below so materials and staff can be prepared.