Acting on faith: A Twin Cities faith-based collaborative works to address disparities in the region
By Reverend Deborah Hutterer, Faith in the City
in our workplaces, neighborhoods, and churches across the state. It also suggests that Lutherans, when equipped and challenged, have the ability to influence quality of life in Minnesota and its communities.
My question is, have Lutherans taken this responsibility to heart?
In February 2009, Faith in the City, a collaboration of Lutheran organizations with the goal of shared leadership, shared resources, and a shared mission for a stronger, healthier community, sponsored The Servant Church Arises event to address this and related questions. The leaders of this collaboration believe Lutherans can and should offer leadership in addressing the issues identified by the Itasca Project and the Brookings Institution with the Mind the Gap report. Thus, the goal of the event was to raise awareness of disparities around race, place, and class, to make a case for why we need to be involved and care, and to encourage people of faith into faithful action.
Lutherans from congregations and ministries around the metro were invited to bring six to eight people from their organization to respond to this challenge. In addition, all Faith in the City institutions, including their CEOs, were present. Catholic Charities, as an invited guest, also participated in this conversation.
Engaging presenters offered brief, powerful messages:
In the last segment of the program, participants worked together to create an action plan. What would they do when they left the room? With whom might they partner to address disparities of race, place, and class in the Twin Cities?
As our group action that day, participants were invited to sign the Common Foundation. Immediately following our gathering, Faith in the City organizations delivered this document to state legislators, thanking them for their valuable work, and encouraging them to continue to be a voice for the most vulnerable.
In June 2009, we followed up to see what changes, if any, had occurred. Here is what participants from the convening reported:
Disparities exist. Some people see this more clearly than others. All people of faith, and all segments of society, share a moral commitment to alleviate the conditions that cause disparities. Throughout our state's history, Lutherans have participated in weaving the social fabric of Minnesota, and created institutions – hospitals, colleges, social welfare organizations – to serve the community in unique ways. The Servant Church Arises was one opportunity to gather, acknowledge the facts, and pledge ourselves as leaders of Lutheran congregations to join in this work, to make an impact and to eliminate disparities.
This is a bold, audacious goal. It arises from a vision that we together make up a community where our lives and our futures are intertwined, and that we share both the responsibility and the opportunity to shape the kind of life we share together.