Kaitlin Reece co-chairs Balancing the Scales of Justice, a task force in the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, that focuses on developing faithful witness to reform in the legal system.
Reece used an EES Spot Grant in summer ’20 to develop “Write for Rights,” an online training for individuals to write letters to the editor (LTEs) and editorials in support of repealing the two-year voting ban for former felons in Nebraska. Following the success of this event, she applied for a grant to help people of faith find and use their prophetic voices to speak in support of criminal justice reform, by coordinating retreats and seminars and launching a social media campaign.
The first phase of her current grant work included developing a logo, website and newsletter. These tools helped to grow their network, especially during pandemic. During this phase the task force hosted EES grantee Kathy McGregor’s On the Row. They also hosted a Community Conversation on Corrections in September ‘21, featuring the state’s Inspector General of Corrections and other nonprofit leaders involved with justice work. The event was live streamed and the recording may be viewed here.
The second phase of Reece’s grant work involved organizing and leading a public witness event, called Sacred Rights. It was held in October ’21 in conjunction with Diocesan Council. The participants gathered to make signs and then marched to the State Capitol, singing Amazing Grace. Reece collaborated with ACLU Nebraska and Community Justice Center, both secular organizations. The ACLU taught a zoom session on the complexity of the issue several weeks before the action and a representative from Community Justice Center attended and spoke at the event.
The final phase of her grant work was a Diocesan Advocacy event held in April ’23. This included a training day, a tour of the state capitol, and conversations with state senators about the bill to restore voting rights to former felons. Bp. Barker offered the opening prayer for the session and the group was introduced to the assembly.
Other activities included a book study on The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton, and a testifier training and mock trial. She also shared her work with the CDSP community.
Reece reflects that, while she is grateful for the success and growth of the ministry, what she appreciates most is her own discernment as a priest of public witness. She has found her voice for articulating why advocacy matters as a person of faith, and has learned from the collaborations with secular organizations. Centering her work around the stories and lived experiences of people of color has helped her see how systems require reform in order to reflect the kin-dom of God that Jesus invites us to join.