“In the beginning…”
In January 2001, the National President, Matthew Hamidullah appointed the
Reverend W. Hugh Dolphus as the Chair of the first Religious Affairs Committee
for the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice. It was the President’s
goal to establish a working body of faith within the association that would
set a plat form in criminal justice issues and decisions. From this concept
the Religious Affairs Committee was formed.
During the 28th Annual Conference and Training Institute held in Cincinnati,
Ohio, an initial group of persons were assembled. This group shared a common
interest in the establishment of this body. Officers were elected at the
first official meeting which convened in Laurel, Maryland, October 5-6, 2001.
From that meeting, the Mission, Purpose and Objectives were established.
The Constitution and By-Laws were created. In addition, sub-committees were
formed to include Special Events Coordination, Public Relations, Project
Coordination, and Membership Recruitment.
On January 25-26, 2002, the second Religious Affairs meeting convened in
Atlanta, Georgia (Alpharetta). From this meeting, the decision to move the
committee towards an independent association was determined and named the
National Religious Affairs Association (NRAA). Also, in this forum, the NRAA
adopted a strategic plan which would encompass the following programs: The
Voices of NABCJ Gospel Choir, the Annual Justice
Sunday, The National Ex-Offender
Speaker’s Bureau, and the F.A.I.T.H. (“Facilitating
Assistance in Transition and Healing”) Annual Prayer Breakfast, held each year
on Wednesday morning during the NABCJ Annual Conference and Training Institute.
The third gathering took place April 5-6, 2002, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in
conjunction with the NABCJ’s National Board Spring meeting. In this
meeting, the national logo of the organization was introduced and confirmed
by the body, as well as the national president. Other templates for NRAA’s
involvement with the Annual Conference and Training Institute included: procedures
for NRAA’s workshops; recruitment reception; a 24 Hour Chapel, with
Chaplains on call; plans and structure for the annual prayer breakfast and
other religious matters.
Today, in three short years, NRAA of NABCJ serves as the annual training
and technical assistance affiliate of NABCJ. The organization has an impressive
number of accomplishments in its short history, to include:
a. The development and implementation of the National
Black Church Task Force initiative on Crime and Criminal Justice (4 demonstration
b. Multiple intellectual properties, to include, “To
Serve This Present Age: A Basic Guide To Reentry Volunteerism and Mentorship”
c. Successfully hosted national representatives of 19 denominations for
A Charge to Keep We Have National Legislative and Leadership Summit in
Addressed by five Congressional Leaders
Hosted by the Honorable Ron Paige, Secretary, U S. Department of Education
d. Developed and implemented national observance
SUNDAY by Grant of Rights, received from the Martin Luther
King Center for Non-Violent and Social Change.
e. Filmed and released 10 minutes promotional
Serve the Present Age: Connections to Reentry through Faith” in
cooperation with the Reentry National Media Campaign through funding from
the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
f. Developed and implemented on behalf of NABCJ,
a full training curriculum for mentoring of offenders as first implemented
the White House Faith and Community-Based Initiative.