Meet John Churchville, the new program director of our newest degree, criminal justice.
1. How long have you been involved in the field of criminal justice?
About 20 years. I have worked as a prosecutor and a defense attorney in both the public and the private sectors. I have worked as an attorney representing the county, and I have worked as an attorney representing the poorest of the poor. From these experiences, I have seen the huge overlap of poverty on literally every aspect of the criminal justice system.
2. Why should Christians be involved in the criminal justice system?
Because God loves justice and Jesus loves people. Our current system needs those who will be salt and light to bring justice and to deeply love people.
3. What is the most challenging part about working the field of criminal justice, and how do you keep an eternal perspective in your work?
The most challenging part is dealing with the very tangible effects of sin – all of us involved, from victims of crime to police who respond to 911 calls; from social workers and therapists and drug and alcohol counselors and advocates; from prosecutors to defense attorneys to judges to prison guards and probation officers – we all see the very worst of humanity in the day-to-day cases we encounter. We get weary, burned out and can become jaded and cynical.
For eternal perspective, I am reminded of two things. First, I think of when Mother Teresa was told that she could not make a difference for everyone, she simply focused on making the difference for one person at a time. Secondly, when I am pained or even sickened by the depth of depravity and callousness among those committing crimes, I recall Bryan Stevenson’s musing that all of us are more than solely the worst thing we have ever done – we are all redeemable!
4. How has working in the criminal justice program shaped you as professional and a Christian?
It has taught me to see people more with eyes of compassion rather than with eyes of judgment and condemnation. I hope that I am now a more patient listener and sensitive counselor when people come to me for help.
5. Part of LBC’s mission as a college is to “ . . . proclaim Christ by serving Him in the Church and society.” How does LBC play a part in this through the new criminal justice major?
There is a huge need in the system for those of us who grasp the love of Christ to then turn around and share this love with those who often do not feel loved. We need to offer ourselves as an oasis of hope and redemption.
6. How will LBC’s criminal justice program be different from similar programs at other college?
By focusing on the three Cs that make our program different: Christian worldview, Community Connections and our Commitment to students.
Christian worldview: We will examine the major components of the criminal justice system with eyes of compassion, an understanding of each particular role (police, courts, corrections) and an emphasis on models of restorative justice.
Community Connections: Lancaster is a hotbed of activity for Christian organizations involved in aspects of the criminal justice system (Water Street Rescue Mission, Support Prison Ministries, Mercy and Justice, etc.). Our students will gain practical experience and “reality schooling” through internships with these and other local entities.
Commitment: Our small student to faculty ratio allows for one-on-one contact between professors and students to discern together the best fit for students’ passion and giftedness with specific needs within the larger Criminal Justice system.
7. What kind of students should consider studying criminal justice?
Those who are passionate about, or willing to die to themselves to learn about, serving others – every last one of us involved in the system is ultimately a servant.
8. What are your hopes for the students that will graduate from this program someday?
In Matthew 9:26 it says, “When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them.” My hope is to train a generation of students to see all those they come into contact with as Jesus did, with compassion and integrity.