April 17, 2021

UCC three-part film series begins Thursday

‘A Path Appears’ will cover human trafficking, poverty and violence

In an effort to connect with the community and bring to light an epidemic that occurs not far from home, the Congregational United Church of Christ is hosting a three-part film series focused on human trafficking, poverty and violence.

The first series of “A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity” will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at the church, 308 E. Second St. N.

“Part of our mission is to connect with folks in our community, to challenge our community and to live out the ways of Jesus, love, justice and peace, in our lives here,” the Rev. Jessica Petersen said. “Over the past three years, we have started up an education program for adults mostly here at the church. We were looking at different religious traditions, different social issues.”

The films selected for this series begins with “Episode One: Sex Trafficking in the USA” and lets viewers meet the survivors behind the widespread, violent crime is taking place across the country. It introduces several children who were victims of sex trafficking and prostitution and the recovery and healing process following their rescues.

“It focuses on the solutions, the transformations, the opportunities that are happening. Not just what the problems are but what people are doing,” Petersen said.

The second film “Episode Two: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty” will be shown on April 7 and looks at poverty both in the United States and abroad, including Haiti and Columbia. It begins by telling the story of a woman from West Virginia who is working to break the cycle of poverty, sexual abuse and drug abuse to return to school and provide a better future for her children.

In Haiti, the Society of Providence United for the Economic Development of Pétion-Ville is highlighted for its efforts to educate children from the poorest background, who are often child laborers and at risk of abuse.

In the final film, “Episode Three: Violence and Solutions,” which will be shown on May 5, the film visits two organizations in Atlanta and explores their work to combat domestic violence. It also travels to Kenya to tell about a school for girls who have created a program that offers health services, aid with the legal system and helps to provide a path out of poverty and abuse for the area’s most at-risk young girls.

“A lot of people don’t think that human trafficking happens here. They think it is an other country’s problem but we will highlight that sex trafficking is real and it is happening right here in the U.S. and in Iowa,” Petersen said.

Although the series is not specifically associated with the Newton Says No To Human Trafficking organization, Petersen said members of the group will be at the showing along with Michael Ferjak, the chief criminal investigator for the Attorney General’s Office.

“I think it will be great to have folks in Newton who are engaging and are already doing some of this work, to share with others who may not know this group is already going,” Petersen said.

The events are free and open to the public. Peterson said it may be most appropriate for adults due to graphic content.

For more information about the film series, contact Petersen at 641-792-3773.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at

641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or