“Turning the other cheek is a revolutionary idea, and those of us who espouse it as a truly realistic way to break the cycle of violence are marginalized, depicted as dangerous, traitorous and a threat to the established order — an order dependent on violence and bloodshed to bring peace.”
For more than 40 years, Rev. Jim Lewis has been addressing the social issues of the local communities he’s served as an Episcopal clergyperson. He has organized parishes and communities in Maryland, West Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina, and Delaware to address health care for women, child care, AIDS, prison and criminal justice issues, capital punishment, war, gay issues, housing, and racial issues.
Active in anti-death penalty work in West Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina and Delaware, Lewis was one of the founders of People of Faith Against the Death Penalty in North Carolina.
Of particular note is Lewis´ work on the Delmarva Peninsula (the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Delaware and Virginia), where he organized poultry process plant workers, chicken catchers, poultry farmers, environmentalists, unions, and community churches to create the Delmarva Poultry Justice Alliance, an organization addressing the injustices and abuses in the poultry industry. That work was featured in a 1999 Sixty Minutes piece with Mike Wallace and included the creation of a Latino community center, a health clinic for the poor, a shelter for battered Latino women, and a program to assist men coming out of prison.
Since leaving the Marine Corps where he was an infantry office, Lewis has been active in war and peace issues. His travels on peace missions have taken him to Cuba, Central America, Libya, Jordan, Iraq, and Israel/Palestine.
Lewis has done civil disobedience around coal mine issues, US involvement in war in Central America and Iraq, and, as mentioned above, poultry labor issues.
He received the West Virginia Governor’s Martin Luther King Jr. “Living the Dream” award in 1991 and was honored in Delaware by Pacem in Terris in October, 2001, as “A Peacemaker Among Us.” He holds an honorary doctorate from the Virginia Theological Seminary.
Lewis writes regularly for a number of newspapers and has authored several books, including, West Virginia Pilgrim (Seabury Press), The Gulf War: The Churches & Peacemaking (North Carolina Council of Churches). He contributed to Strike Terror No More: Theology, Ethics, and the New War (Chalice Press). He authored a chapter, “Grasshopper Power”, in the recently published book, Workers’ Rights as Human Rights (Cornell Press) which focuses on workplace safety and the role of community organization in bringing about change in the food production system.
Jim is married to Judith Graham, has a son and three daughters, and nine grandchildren. He and Judy live in Charleston, West Virginia.
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