Lehigh Conference of Churches -- Justice and Advocacy Fall Gathering

The Heart of Justice


The Lehigh Conference of Churches

Justice & Advocacy

The Heart of Justice:
Jesus in Prison

Saturday, November 8, 2014
St. John's UCC

Plenary Speakers

Neftali "Charles" Olmeda is Senior Pastor of the multi-ethnic, bi-lingual, 3rd Day Worship Center in Allentown, affiliated with the Assemblies of God. He and his wife Pastor Reina Olmeda have founded and pastored the church for the last 10 years.
Rev. Olmeda has served as President of the Board of Directors of the Lehigh Conference of Churches and currently leads a planning committee focused on providing re-entry assistance for people returning from prison.
Rev. Olmeda also serves as the president of Solutions Services, Inc., which is the administering agency for the Allentown Mentoring Enrichment Network or "A.M.E.N. Initiative," an inner-city mentoring and midnight basketball, anti-gang and anti-drug program. He also serves as board member and East Coast Director for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC).

Andrea James has worked within the criminal justice system for more than 25 years as a youth worker to a former criminal defense attorney. She dedicated her time and resources to providing zealous representation to families within her community of Roxbury, Mass. In 2009 she was disbarred as an attorney and sentenced to 24 months in federal prison. What she encountered in prison motivated her to establish Families for Justice as Healing, a criminal justice reform organization advocating for community wellness initiatives to replace the "War on Drugs" and incarceration.

Workshop Leaders

Sherri Brokopp Binder, a member of the RIPPLE leadership team in Allentown, holds a Ph.D. in Community and Cultural Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has also earned degrees in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University and in International Affairs from Kennesaw State University. Sherri served for seven years as the Sustainable Cities Division Director at the Urban Ecology Institute, an environmental policy institute at Boston College.

Joyce Dougherty, PhD, as Executive Director of THE PROGRAM for Women and Families since 1998, serves as a key community advocate for youth, incarcerated women and men, and the children of adults involved in the criminal justice system. She is responsible for securing funding and overseeing the implementation of new programs.

Thomas Ganser is former Assistant Chief Juvenile Probation Office of the Lehigh County Juvenile Probation Department, and now works with the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. He is also a Board Member of The Lehigh Conference of Churches.

Zelma Lang is a chaplain at Clinton County Correctional Facility, pastor with Methodist Holiness Church in Lockhaven, PA, and faculty at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. Her professional ministry has also included work in Detroit, Michigan; Denver, Colorado; South Dakota; and Arkansas. She is founder of the Clinton County Housing Coalition, has served as the President of the Southern Clinton County Association of Christian Churches, is co-founder and pastor of Wordsong Ministries, and the director of the Christian Community Services Council, which provides a comprehensive mentoring program in Clinton County. Chaplain Lang has also taught college courses in speech and theatre for over 20 years, has worked as a communications corporate consultant and trainer, and has written and directed four plays.

Latif Matt is Community Corrections Reentry Coordinator for Lehigh County Department of Corrections. He works with inmates at the Community Correctional Center and is responsible for case management of individuals with substance abuse issues, gang affiliation, or a long history of involvement in the criminal justice system.

Ben Walter, joined the pastoral team at RIPPLE in December 2011, after serving for eight years as a volunteer youth worker at Selinsgrove Church of the Nazarene. Ben is also a professional house painter. He grew up in Selinsgrove, PA in central Pennsylvania, and after high school he joined the Army infantry for three years and was stationed in Washington and Korea. He received a B.S. in nutrition from Penn State in 2001 and a M.Div. from Biblical Theological Seminary in 2011.

*The program and workshop offerings are subject to change. There's more to come: Please check this page again for updates.

Last Updated: 10/19/2014
Created: September 6, 2014