Louisiana Interchurch Conference (LIC)
14 of our congregations are located in the State of Texas. They are part of the Bayou Conference. Their Dean is Sandra Barnes, Pastor of Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Chalmette, Louisiana.
The Louisiana Interchurch Conference (LIC) is one of 22 state-wide ecumenical organizations. The Texas Conference of Churches disbanded about eight years ago. The LIC consists of 15 member denominations and 26 judicatory leaders representing about 2 million congregants. Leigh Rachal is the Executive Director. LIC holds an assembly each March and a Board Meeting each September. Dean Barnes and I attended the two-day LIC Assembly this past week at the Catholic Life Center in Baton Rouge, March 13-14, 2023.
We had fruitful discussions on the importance of ecumenical cooperation. We also held a business sessions and received presentations on disaster response/VOAD (Jessica Vermilyea), juvenile justice (Jack Harrison of the Juvenile Defense Clinic), and campus ministry (Jessica Trahan, Director of Campus Ministry at UL Wesley, Rev. Zoë Garry, director and Campus Minister for NOLA Wesley, and Rev. Hebert A. Brisbon, III, University Chaplain at Dillard University in New Orleans). The event included worship. Roman Catholic Bishop Michael Duca (Baton Rouge) was elected the new president.
To convict a juvenile in Louisiana costs on the average $47,500. The cost to incarcerate a juvenile is about $46,500 per child per year. $11,900 to educate a child. The vast majority are black and brown (58% African American, 94% boys). In Baton Rouge, 94.7% of the boys brought into the juvenile justice system are black. There was much discussion around the justice of charges against non-violent offenders. Study after study shows that the less a child is exposed to the juvenile justice system, the better the outcomes. The good news is arrests and incarcerations are down 23% over the last five years in Baton Rouge.
We passed two resolutions, one reaffirming the LIC’s opposition to the death penalty and the other condemning the rise of antisemitic and Islamaphobic actions and speech of late.
Dean Barnes will likely represent me at the fall board meeting, which unfortunately falls at the same time a the fall meeting of the ELCA Conference of Bishops.