“Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and the needy.”
— Proverbs 31: 8-9, scriptural motto of the Methodist Justice Ministry
The Methodist Justice Ministry (MJM) protects women and children from domestic violence, neglect, and abuse — and in the process, transforms their lives.
MJM was founded in 2006 by Rev. Brooks Harrington, who also serves as our Legal Director of this Ministry. As an ordained United Methodist elder who has also been a licensed attorney for 39 years, Brooks originally served as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., where he was in charge of all the criminal prosecutions for domestic violence and crimes against children. With this first-hand experience understanding the physical, emotional, and psychological damage women and children suffer as a result of these crimes — including a loss of faith in themselves, their lives, and God — Brooks felt a calling to return to ministry. Joining forces with the visionary leadership and faith community of FUMCFW, Brooks founded MJM and began representing hundreds of women and children from low-income families.
Today, MJM maintains an active caseload of 30–35 lawsuits and receives 20–30 new calls per week. The Ministry has helped 377 women and 650 children since 2006, creating positive change in the lives of 1,027 people in a single decade.
One former client came to the Ministry after her ex-husband became gradually violent. “It got to the point where my other two kids were even scared to come see me,” she recalled. After MJM obtained a protective order and divorce, her life has been completely different. Her children want to come see her and be with her. They aren’t scared anymore, and neither is she. After receiving help, this woman was given the opportunity to go back to school, become part of a church, and see her friends and family on an everyday basis. “I have a life,” she added. “I can be my own person, and it’s a great feeling.”
Another woman described her once loving husband as a shark who would attack her and not have any emotion or thought about what he was doing. “It came to the point where he was a totally different person,” she remembered. “I didn’t even know who he was anymore.” This woman turned to MJM for help, and now her house is full of people at all times. She has a lot of support from her family and friends. They come in laughing and smiling rather than lingering by the door in case they need to make a quick getaway. “Now they are sitting comfortable,” she said with a smile. “We can laugh and eat, and it’s back to what it should be in the household.”
Jacob and Johnny, twin boys born with a high concentration of methamphetamine in their bodies from their mother’s drug use during her pregnancy, were kept in the hospital for four weeks after their births so the staff could care for them during their withdrawals. The mother came to the hospital daily, demanding her babies’ immediate release. Child Protective Services (CPS) found the mother’s aunt, and she filed for custody and consented to leaving the babies in the hospital until they were clean and healthy. This aunt was already caring for five other children who were not her own, and she had a very low income. CPS referred her to the Ministry.
MJM filed suit for the aunt to gain primary custody of the twins and to receive protection from the mother. The Ministry was able to obtain emergency court orders giving the aunt legal authority to 1) consent to the continued necessary hospitalization of the babies, 2) take the children into her home after their discharge from the hospital, and 3) deny the mother any access to the children until she could prove she had been completely drug-free for at least three months. Only then would the mother be allowed any supervised visitation with the children. MJM has continued to provide financial help to the aunt, enabling her to care for all of the material needs of the babies and other children.
The Ministry offers help to its clients in several ways:
- Free legal representation and advice
- Prayer and pastoral counseling
- Professional psychological and emotional counseling
- Life and financial skills advice and counseling
- Referral to case workers
- Emergency financial support for rent, utilities, food, transportation, job training, and other needs
- Devoted friendship
The Ministry is completely faith-driven, and it seeks to empower women and children so they can live free of abuse, violence, and self-doubt. MJM shows these women and children that they are not alone. They know that our Methodist Justice Ministry is by their side, and God is with them.
For more information about MJM, or to help support its efforts through donations, visit methodistjusticeministry.org.