'The God Squad'

By: Lanetra Bennett
January 10, 2014

Tallahassee, FL - A diverse group of local clergy -- affectionately known as "The God Squad" -- are working to improve civic conversation in today's society.

Friday, parents of a young woman killed by her boyfriend, help "The God Squad" in its discussion on Restorative Justice.

In March 2010, 19-year-old, Ann Grosmaire, was shot in the head and killed by her boyfriend, Conor McBride.

Grosmaire's mother, Kate, says, "Through God's grace, we were able to forgive."

Grosmaire's parents, Kate and Andy, sat before hundreds of people Friday to share their journey of forgiveness, and how they fought to keep Conor McBride from getting the death penalty.

Kate says, "Being able to release that debt that Conor owed us, released us to be able to continue to live. We have two other daughters. We didn't get stuck in that moment."

Sitting by the Grosmaires' side was the "The God Squad". It's a local diverse group of clergy consisting of the Jewish and four different Christian beliefs.

The God Squad holds a series of faith dialogues to tackle civic issues from a faith perspective.

Rabbi Jack Romberg says, "I think it creates understanding. I think that for a society that is dominant Christian, to hear a Muslim or a Jewish perspective is very, very important; because then we are no longer the other, we become the neighbor."

Friday's topic was, Restorative Justice: Rethinking the role of forgiveness. It's something the clergy says the Grosmaires are perfect examples of.

Kate says, "It's not just for the person you're forgiving, it's really for the person who's forgiving. Andy says, I hope that we can be a symbol of hope for others."

The series is called, "Faith, Food, Friday". It's held at First Baptist Church in Tallahassee.

"The God Squad" says it hopes neighbors having lunch and discussions together can begin to heal the political divide.

For more information, please see the press release below.

Press Release: The Village Square

Local clergy joined by Andy and Kate Grosmaire to share story of restorative justice

(TALLAHASSEE, FL) - January 7, 2014 - On Friday, January 10, a diverse group of local clergy - affectionately known as "The God Squad" - will host Andy and Kate Grosmaire, whose 19-year-old daughter Ann was killed by her boyfriend in 2010. Joined by the Reverend Allison DeFoor, who had a critical role in the events that unfolded following Ann's death, they will share their journey of loss and forgiveness and their struggle to define what justice is in the face of profound and unthinkable personal tragedy.

Together they will tell a story of two families seeking another way despite incredible obstacles - a story that takes them across the country, around the world and deep inside their hearts - to bring to fruition an idea unlikely to happen anywhere, much less in the panhandle of North Florida. There are few stories like the one the Grosmaires will tell in the world today.

"Restorative Justice: Rethinking the Role of Forgiveness" is on Friday, January 10 from noon to 1 pm at First Baptist Church (108 W. College Avenue), with lunch available beginning at 11:30. Rev. Dave Killeen of St. John's Episcopal Church will moderate.

The Faith, Food, Friday series began in 2011 in the hope that neighbors breaking bread together could begin to heal the political divide that has so paralyzed our nation. People from all faith communities - or those not a part of any faith community - are all invited to participate in these improbable conversations.

The series is hosted by local nonprofit "The Village Square," dedicated to building community across the partisan divide in order to improve the quality of the civic conversation in America today. The Village Square's model of civic engagement is drawing attention from across the country, with new locations beginning in Kansas City and California.

"The God Squad" includes Rev. Dave Killeen of St. John's Episcopal Church, Pastor Darrick McGhee of Bible Based Church, Rev. Betsy Ouellette of Good Samaritan United Methodist Church, Rabbi Jack Romberg of Temple Israel and Dr. Bill Shiell of First Baptist Church.

All Faith, Food, Friday forums are free and open to the public. Lunch is available for $8 if you RSVP by the Tuesday ahead of the program and $10 with a late reservation or at the door - all lunches are paid cash or check at the door. You may also bring a brown bag lunch or not eat.

For a menu, more information or to reserve your seat, go online to http://wiki.tothevillagesquare.org/x/e4Df, call 590-6646 or email fff@tothevillagesquare.org.

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