Loving Your Neighbor 2020


Join Us for an all-online Loving Your Neighbor Conference 2020 (LYN2020)

Calvin Seminary invites you to its third biennial Loving Your Neighbor Conference, which will be streamed online July 6-7, 2020.

This year's conference is titled "Forming Citizens Of God's Kingdom In Prison And Upon Reentry" and will provide information on the current state of the North American prison system, biblical insight regarding care for the incarcerated, a look into the Calvin Prison Initiative (CPI), and practical ideas for ministering to the incarcerated, those reentering society, and their families.

This year’s conference theme has special significance. Five years ago, in response to God's command to love our neighbor, Calvin Seminary and Calvin University partnered to launch the Calvin Prison Initiative (CPI). In 2020, the CPI conferred its first Bachelor's degrees to 18 students at the Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan. Join us for LYN2020 as we consider and celebrate the momentous achievement of those graduating students.

We believe each person is created in the image of God. And regardless of who they are or what they've done, each deserves dignity and respect.

Keynote Speaker

Reverend Dominique DuBois Gilliard

Director of Racial Righteousness and Reconciliation for the Evangelical Covenant Church

The keynote speaker for LYN2020 is Reverend Dominique DuBois Gilliard, who is the Director of Racial Righteousness and Reconciliation for the Evangelical Covenant Church. He is the author of Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice that Restores, which won a 2018 Book of the Year Award for InterVarsity Press and was named Outreach Magazine’s Social Issues Resource of the Year. Gilliard also serves as an adjunct professor at North Park Theological Seminary and is on the board of directors for the Christian Community Development Association. In 2015, the Huffington Post named him one of the “Black Christian Leaders Changing the World."

Additional Details

This conference will also include a presentation by Calvin University's Director of the CPI, Todd Cioffi, a panel discussion with CPI faculty moderated by Dr. Gary Burge, an interview with the Warden of the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility, Dewayne Burton, and testimonials from CPI students.

We invite pastors, ministry leaders, lay church members, students, and others interested in prison reform and reentry to participate in this conference. We encourage you to browse additional details via links provided in the menu on the left side of this page.


Conference Schedule

July 6th

All scheduled sessions are in Eastern Standard Time (EST)


Welcome and Opening Worship

Welcome: John Rottman
Devotions: Lisa DeYoung


Keynote Address:
Mass Incarceration in the United States: The Past, Present, and Way Forward
Rev. Dominique DuBois Gilliard

Entering 2020, the United States had more people locked up in jails, prisons, and detention centers than any other country in the history of the world. Mass incarceration has become a lucrative industry, and our criminal justice system is plagued with bias and unjust practices. This session will unpack how we got here, the systemic realities that sustain mass incarceration, and how we bring about needed change.


The Facilitation of Healing in a Multi-Faith Canadian Correctional (Incarceration) Context

Rev. John deVries, Jr.

As an ordained pastor in the Christian Reformed Church, John served as Chaplain in the Federal Correctional Service of Canada. Working with “the least of these” from a wide variety of faiths and cultural backgrounds, John saw his role as one who facilitated healing for inmates who were faced with brokenness in their lives. Assisted by community volunteers and systemic multi-faith resources, his relational ministry aimed to nurture new life and healing. In this presentation, John will share his passion for serving the incarcerated and will provide some background on the present prison system in Canada.



Just Mercy

Todd Cioffi, Rev. Dominique DuBois Gilliard, Melinda Braman
Just Mercy Discussion Guide

Just Mercy is available to watch for free on multiple digital platforms for the month of June. Go here for more information.

July 7th

All scheduled sessions are in Eastern Standard Time (EST)

Welcome and Worship From Prison

Devotions: Bob Arbogast


Keynote Address: The Role and Response of the Church in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Rev. Dominique DuBois Gilliard

This workshop will explore how Christians can disciple those behind bars, walk alongside their family members, and advocate for criminal justice that offers opportunities for authentic rehabilitation, lasting transformation, and healthy reintegration. The church has the power to help transform our criminal justice system and learn how it can participate in advocating for justice that restores.
Church Engagement in Prison Ministries

Moderator: Jul Medenblik
Panelists: Rick Admiraal, Bob Arbogast, Rev. Dominique DuBois Gilliard and Mark Muller
Landscape of Higher Education in Prison

Todd Cioffi


Lunch Break


Education in Prison

Dewayne Burton and Todd Cioffi
Faculty Perspectives and Experiences of Education in Prison

Moderator: Dr. Gary Burge
Panelists: Prof. Stacia Hoeksema, Prof. Ken Bergwerff, Dr. Ronald Feenstra, and Dr. David Rylaarsdam.

In this session, Calvin Seminary and Calvin University faculty will offer insights on prison education at the Handlon Correctional Facility. The discussion will touch on their personal and professional experiences and perceptions and the impact of these experiences on their own teaching within and outside of prison.


Reentry: Challenges Inside and Outside of Prison

Moderator: Dale Cooper
Students: Saulo Montalvo, Nick Nichols, and Michael Duthler
This panel discussion will center around three primary questions: First, how did these men prepare for release? Specifically, what training and preparation did they receive from or through MDOC? Second, what challenges did they experience upon release? Third, what are some practical ways churches and individuals can support returning citizens during and after their time of transition?


Q&A with Dewayne Burton and Todd Cioffi


Presentation of Service Award and Closing Comments


Online Registration

Complete the form below to register for this online only conference at no cost to you.

Note: to participate in LYN 2020, you must have a cell phone, tablet, or computer that is connected to the internet. Calvin Seminary will not be able to provide or assist with technical details related to hardware, software, and/or internet connectivity.



Calvin Prison Initiative
A partnership between Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary, the Calvin Prison Initiative (CPI) is a unique program that provides a Christian liberal arts education to inmates at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, MI. This five-year program results in a bachelor of arts degree from Calvin University in Faith and Community Leadership. CPI brings hope, dignity, and the opportunity for real accomplishment.
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Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF)
ICCF is a nonprofit housing corporation whose leadership is motivated by, and programs shaped by, its belief that all people deserve safe, clean, affordable housing. God has called us to seek justice in our community in response to the saving love of Jesus Christ, that others may see His love in action.
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Healing Communities of West Michigan
Healing Communities is a framework for a distinct form of ministry for men and women returning from or at risk of incarceration, their families and the larger community. Healing Communities challenges congregations to become Stations of Hope for those persons affected by the criminal justice system.
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Fresh Coast Alliance
Every year several thousand men and women return from jail and prison to Muskegon County. The overwhelming majority have an addiction or are at risk for a relapse. In 2013, a group of concerned community members were searching for a way to serve the unmet needs in Muskegon. What began as 70x7 Life Recovery Muskegon, a prisoner reentry ministry, has evolved into Fresh Coast Alliance. We are a reentry and recovery collaborative partnering with like-minded churches, businesses and agencies - here to transform the lives of those affected by incarceration and addiction; as we hope, learn, work, heal and dream together in Christ.
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Forgotten Man Ministries
Forgotten Man Ministries is a biblically-based, chaplain-led, volunteer ministry. We provide hope in Michigan county jails by teaching, preaching, and showing the love of Jesus Christ. We believe that every inmate that returns home can start a new life, become a productive citizen, and never return to jail.
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Crossroads Prison Ministries
Crossroads Prison Ministries catalyzes Christ-centered mentoring relationships between people in prison and volunteers from churches throughout the world. The unlikely relationships formed through studying the Bible together and exchanging letters transform both those inside and outside prison walls.
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KPEP operates residential and non residential programs for adult offenders as a community based alternative to incarceration. We offer the opportunity and structure for men and women to take personal responsibility in their lives.
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70 X 7 Life Recovery
70 X 7 Life Recovery offers instruction, guidance and employment opportunities to men and women released from incarceration. Why? Because we are all children of God. When we help those who have been incarcerated, we help families and we strengthen the community as a whole. We show the love of Jesus Christ.
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Prison Fellowship
Prison Fellowship is the nation's largest nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, and a leading advocate for justice reform. We seek to share the real, living hope of the Gospel with people who long for its power to make them new. Real restoration begins by addressing the cycle of crime on all fronts, in prison and out, and engaging in a cycle of renewal.
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Humanity for Prisoners
With compassion for Michigan’s imprisoned, Humanity for Prisoners provides, promotes and ensures—with strategic partnerships— personalized, problem-solving services for incarcerated persons in order to alleviate suffering beyond the just administration of their sentences.
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Books, Videos and other Resorces

Rethinking Incarceration, Dominique Dubois Gilliard
In Rethinking Incarceration Dominique Gilliard explores the history and foundation of mass incarceration, examining Christianity’s role in its evolution and expansion. He assesses our nation’s ethic of meritocratic justice in light of Scripture and exposes the theologies that embolden mass incarceration. Gilliard then shows how Christians can pursue justice that restores and reconciles, offering creative solutions and highlighting innovative interventions. God’s justice is ultimately restorative, not just punitive. Discover how Christians can participate in the restoration and redemption of the incarceration system.
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Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson
An unforgettable true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to end mass incarceration in America — from one of the most inspiring lawyers of our time. Just Mercy tells the story of EJI, from the early days with a small staff facing the nation’s highest death sentencing and execution rates, through a successful campaign to challenge the cruel practice of sentencing children to die in prison, to revolutionary projects designed to confront Americans with our history of racial injustice.
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The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander
The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement. Since its publication in 2010, the book has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year; been dubbed the “secular bible of a new social movement” by numerous commentators, including Cornel West; and has led to consciousness-raising efforts in universities, churches, community centers, re-entry centers, and prisons nationwide. The New Jim Crow tells a truth our nation has been reluctant to face.
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