Pro Bono & Faith Days Event Goes Virtual with Online Trainings, Discussion

October 23, 2020

Faith leaders and community partners from across the state are invited to attend the Tennessee Faith & Justice Alliance’s fourth annual Pro Bono & Faith Days event, which will be held virtually this year for the first time. This year’s installment of the popular program will feature a facilitated dialogue on faith, pro bono, and racial justice, as well as training sessions led by representatives from legal services organizations.

The event will take place on three separate days, one for each of the state’s grand divisions. The dates, times, and registration links are as follows:

West Tennessee: Monday, October 26, from 1 to 3 p.m. CT: https://tncourts-gov.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAkf-qqrTItE9LL7i8HFJ6MdKhiHVG2HIA0

Middle Tennessee: Wednesday, October 28, from 1 to 3 p.m. CT: https://tncourts-gov.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIrd-yoqzkrHtWjrnegX8HB6YWx-nGdxGgz

East Tennessee: Friday, October 30, from 2 to 4 p.m. ET: https://tncourts-gov.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcrdOyupz0tHdHyrwOx0myjEtJJfDL0s_jZ

The event will kick off with an introductory video from Tennessee attorney and advocate Jim Emison about racial justice within Tennessee’s legal system. The discussion that follows will be facilitated by Monty Burks, the director of faith-based initiatives for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Each day will feature a different group of distinguished panelists from one of the state’s grand divisions.

“We are thrilled to have wonderful panelists from all over the state for a deeper conversation about Faith, Pro Bono, and Racial Justice and how, by considering the three jointly, we may be able to better serve those in our communities who might otherwise not find the legal help they are eligible for or be left behind in the justice system,” Kimi deMent Dean, pro bono coordinator for the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission, said.

After the conversation on faith, pro bono, and racial justice, attendees will take part in two legal information training sessions. The first session will feature speakers from Help4TN Resources, TN.Freelegalanswers.org, and Legal Wellness Checkup. The second session will include speakers from West Tennessee Legal Services, Memphis Area Legal Services, Legal Aid Society of Middle TN and the Cumberlands, and Legal Aid of East TN.

The Tennessee Faith & Justice Alliance (TFJA) is part of the Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission. It is an alliance of faith-based groups in Tennessee who commit to providing legal resources to their congregations and communities.

TFJA was created to align needs seen at the local house of worship level with possible legal resources that are nearby, perhaps even within the same congregation. The notion is to connect with people in need in a place they already go to seek help with a problem. That place is quite often their place of worship. It operates on a referral model that is designed to pair volunteer lawyers with congregants in need, and helps develop clinic programs, legal information presentations, and community trainings based on community needs. The goal of Pro Bono & Faith Days is to expand the number of houses of worship involved in the program as well as to host coordinated, creative events across the state.

Here is a full list of the panelists for each day:

West Tennessee

Judge Nathan Pride, Former Circuit Court Judge, Madison County

Matt Marshall, CEO of United Way of West TN

Rev. Ollie Rencher, Rector of Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Memphis, TN

Rep. Barbara Cooper, Tennessee House of Representatives for the 86th District, Shelby County

Middle Tennessee

Judge Sheila Calloway, Juvenile Judge, Metropolitan Nashville & Davidson County

Sekou Franklin, Associate Professor, Political Science and International Relations, Middle Tennessee State University

Zulfat Suara, Metro Council At-Large Representative & American Muslim Advisory Council

Andrae Crismon, Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands

East Tennessee

The Rt. Rev. Brian Cole, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East TN

Lurone "Coach" Jennings, Administrator for Chattanooga Youth & Family Development

Dr. Keith Johnson, Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, East Tennessee State University

Lakenya Middlebrook, Attorney and Executive Director of the Knoxville Police Advisory & Review Committee