The School for Conversion works for beloved communities that unlearn habits of social division. We do this by experimenting in a way of life that meets Jesus in the neighbor and the stranger, making surprising friendships possible.
"The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, so that when the battle is over, a new relationship comes into being between the oppressed and the oppressor." -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
We are a school, a space for education and re-education, inspired largely by the popular education model developed at the Highlander Center. We believe education comes from people gathering to listen, learn, and share with each other. This kind of education is particularly powerful when people come together across lines of division that would typically separate them--whether it is race, class, religion, or incarceration. We strive to create spaces where “surprising friendships” can happen, and we believe these relationships can convert people to a new way of living together and being in the world.
Recognizing all our lives are touched by the prison system, we work to interrupt the "neighborhood-to-prison pipeline" from both ends: through Walltown Aspiring Youth, a mentoring program for middle school youth, and Project TURN, which teaches courses in prisons to incarcerated students and students from outside who learn together as classmates.
We also offer Community Education programs to churches, community groups, and individuals through classes, workshops, and retreats. Our annual 21st Century Freedom Ride is a pilgrimage to historic civil rights sites and stories that allows us to learn and by inspired for today’s freedom movement. Our newest program, Church Beyond the Walls, brings congregations in central North Carolina who hunger for community together with currently and formerly incarcerated women and men who’ve tasted beloved community and carry with them some wisdom about how to build it. Other opportunities provide space to share, learn, and discuss ways we can all work towards justice, friendship, and beloved community.
- See interviews with participants and clips from programs on our YouTube Channel
- Read about our director Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, order his books, and view upcoming speaking events at www.jonathanwilsonhartgrove.com
- Learn how you can support our work or get involved
Frequently Asked Questions
What is School for Conversion's affiliation with Rutba House?
School for Conversion was inspired by the life of the Rutba House, an intentional community based in Walltown since 2003. SFC grew out of the experiences of Rutba House members in Walltown, particularly how much the community was impacted by incarceration. While SFC has no formal affiliation with the Rutba House, many of our current and former staff and board are Rutba members, and we are good friends and often partners on projects. To learn more about the Rutba House, visit a monthly SFC open house or Rutba potluck.
What is School for Conversion's relationship with Walltown?
School for Conversion was inspired by the community life in Walltown and we remain rooted in the Walltown community. One program, Walltown Aspiring Youth, directly serves middle-schoolers from Walltown. We host other programs and classes at our office space in Walltown, inviting people into the community as a teaching space, to learn about the history of a particular place and what it may teach us about working for justice and peace in our wider community and world.
Is School for Conversion a Christian organization?
School for Conversion is a faith-rooted organization that was created and continues to be shaped by God’s vision of a beloved community that we see through the life of Jesus. We are not affiliated with a denomination and we frequently welcome students and participants of any or no faith. We are not interested in converting people to a particular set of doctrines but to a way of life that leads us all toward beloved community.
How is School for Conversion funded?
We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit, which means we receive tax-deductible donations from a variety of individuals and foundations, as well as local churches and community organizations. All of our work is also supported by income from Jonathan's speaking engagements and writing projects.
Still interested in learning more? Read about similar work and programs being conducted by some of our partners:
Koinonia Farm - Americus, Georgia
The Highlander Center - New Market, TN
The Simple Way - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Repairers of the Breach - national
Red Letter Christians - national