2020 Tennessee Faith & Justice Summit

In the interest of the safety of our faith leaders and communities, and consistent with local and national guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Faith & Justice Summit is moving to an online platform and will be offered free of charge to all attendees. Details will follow as our planning team makes additional preparations. To participate, register here.

Connecting Faith Communities with Legal Resources
Featuring a Special Panel Presentation on the Intersection of Faith, Justice, and Mental Health

Faith leaders and community partners from across Tennessee will gather online on April 21, 2020 during the annual #Help4TNDay celebrations to consider the ways faith and justice intersect, learn about free legal resources available to better serve Tennesseans in need, and build bridges both locally and statewide for a better future. This valuable program will provide a deep dive into the problems, resources, and solutions that faith leaders need to know about as they work to serve their communities, especially community members who are struggling with legal issues and who do not know where to turn for help.

This event—co-sponsored by the Office of Civic Engagement and the Beecken Center of the School of Theology at the University of the South, and the Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance (TFJA)—will bring together faith leaders, attorneys, and advocates for a day devoted to examining how Tennessee’s legal and religious communities can come together to aid some of the most vulnerable members of society. Participants will consider why faith and justice partnerships matter, learn about free legal resources that every faith and community leader should know about, and learn how to build faith-based and community partnerships in their area. Participants will hear first-hand accounts of lives positively impacted by the work of the TFJA and its partner organizations.

The program will feature morning plenaries highlighting why Access to Justice is the number one strategic priority of the Tennessee Supreme Court, and why Tennessee needs all hands on deck—particularly faith and community partners with trusted relationships built in the community—to achieve access to justice for all Tennesseans. A special plenary panel will specifically consider the intersection of faith, justice, and mental health, and how faith-based partners and the legal community can benefit from what is happening in the mental health community. The panel will explore the advantages of broad partnerships and shared resources to help improve access to justice for all Tennesseans.

The program will be held online using the Zoom teleconferencing platform. To participate, you must register, and login details will be sent once they are confirmed by our planning team. Download a schedule here.

Who Should Attend?

When a person gathers the courage to reach out for help, they may only reach out once. This is one of the primary reasons that every person in a position of trust or leader who serves the community needs to know about the valuable legal information and resources presented at this important program. You can be the connection that changes a life.

Clergy and religious leaders of all faith-traditions, lay leaders, faith-based organizations, social workers, non-profits, university leadership (including faculty and staff), representatives for legal organizations, judges, state government officials, and more will particularly benefit from this program. Register here.


The problem of a lack of legal representation in Tennessee is a substantial one. The TFJA and the Supreme Court’s Access to Justice efforts focus on civil litigation: while everyone has a constitutional right to free counsel in a criminal proceeding, the same is not true for civil proceedings. While more than a million low-income Tennesseans need legal representation in a given year, there are far fewer attorneys in the state to provide them with counsel. These disparate numbers leave many Tennesseans without access to legal care. In fact, less than twenty percent of people eligible for free legal in Tennessee help ever find it. Some may feel uneasy about approaching an attorney or going to court to find a way out of their legal predicament. Others dealing with civil legal issues like eviction, foreclosure, a denial of government benefits, or debt collection may simply not know that they may be eligible for legal relief. They may feel more comfortable seeking aid in a religious setting, and often faith-leaders are trusted in a way the legal community is not.

Faith and community partners can serve a vital role in making sure people eligible for free legal help can connect with that help when they need it. The Tennessee Faith & Justice Summit seeks to build the network between faith, community, and justice in Tennessee, grow awareness of the legal problems that impact our communities, teach religious leaders how to identify problems with potential legal remedies, and pave the way to helping all Tennesseans find the legal help they need. Register here.

Where: Online via the Zoom teleconferencing platform.

When: April 21, 2020. Download a complete schedule here.

Cost: Free of charge. To participate, you must register.

Generous funding has been secured through the Jessie Ball Dupont Fund and the Office of Civic Engagement at the University of the South to cover the costs of this program.

Speakers & Panelists


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