103 Spanish-speaking leaders, from fifteen institutions in the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines, participated in and were joined by Bishop Richard Pates for three days of training for congregational and community leadership. Sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the Organizers Institute of the West/Southwest IAF and AMOS, trainees deeply engaged with scriptural and church-based teaching to learn how be more effective leaders.
Over 80 predominantly low-income Spanish-speaking leaders converged for a multi-day training on leadership development co-sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), Mission and Ministry, Inc. (MMI), the Organizers Institute of the West/Southwest IAF and Valley Interfaith. Trainees came from 19 different institutions of the Rio Grande Valley -- including from Rio Hondo, Elsa, Las Milpas (Pharr), Weslaco, Peñitas and McAllen -- to learn how to organize around their faith and values.
Together Baton Rouge, Together New Orleans Condemn Attack on New Zealand Mosque & Stand with Muslim Neighbors
Within hours of the shooting in New Zealand, diverse faith groups in Louisiana came together to support Muslim neighbors.
At Masjid Al-Rahman mosque in Baton Rouge, Rev. Fred Smith of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church (in photo at right), and Together Baton Rouge, joined Imam Waiel Shihadeh to speak to hundreds of congregants at Friday services. “Even though our worship comes from a different perspective, it’s important for us to recognize the value of inclusion — the value of universal love — which is what is a part of our Christian faith,” Smith said. Catholic Bishop Michael Duca sent a message of solidarity for both the victims of the attack and the larger Muslim community.
In New Orleans, leaders from Together New Orleans joined Jewish clergy at Muslim worshippers at Masjidur Rahim for an interfaith service of solidarity. Bridget Tierney, a member of Christ Church Cathedral on St. Charles Avenue, said that one of the worst things that can happen after such an attack is for worshippers to feel unsafe, alone and isolated.
No one, she said, should feel that way. “We have to stand together.”
[Photos Credits: At right by Jacqueline DeRobertis, The Advocate; photos at left by Brett Duke, Times Picayune]
'We All Stand Together: New Orleans Mosque Holds Service for All Faiths After New Zealand Attack, NOLA.com | Times Picayune
The CCHD-sponsored 'Recognizing the Stranger' strategy launched in Austin, Texas with the support of Bishop Joe Vasquez, the Catholic Diocese of Austin, the Organizers Institute and Austin Interfaith. 50 trainees from 13 institutions participated in Spanish-language sessions including the Body of Christ, the Baptismal Call of the Church and Qualities of Leaders through the lens of the Beatitudes.
At the US-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, training sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), Mission and Ministry, Inc. (MMI), and the Organizers Institute of the West/Southwest IAF reached approximately 40 Spanish-speaking leaders. Participants wrestled with scripture, engaged with each other in small groups and re-imagined parishes at the center of change.
The Interfaith Education Fund hosted a seminar with Richard Rothstein to examine his latest book, The Color of Law, and the role public policy played in reinforcing, exacerbating and sometimes imposing residential segregation in America. Leaders engaged with the text of the book, shared stories of local work and agitated each other (including the seminar guest) around what it will take to end racial segregation in the US.
Organized with support from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the Organizers Institute of the West/Southwest IAF, the Recognizing the Stranger strategy continued in Nevada with the training of Spanish-speaking leaders from 9 parishes.
On Sunday, January 24th Dallas Area Interfaith, King of Glory Lutheran Church (ELCA), and Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Parish joined together for an ecumenical service of prayer and unity. Bishop Greg Kelly of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas and Bishop Erik K.J. Gronberg of the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod (ELCA) shared the pulpit and other local pastors and leaders took part alongside combined choirs of the two congregations.
Joint statement by Bishop Erik Gronberg (ELCA) and Bishop Greg Kelly (Catholic Diocese of Dallas)
This worship marked the 2019 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Lutheran reformation. Additionally this service marked 50 years of the Joint Lutheran-Catholic Commission on Unity called for by Pope John XXIII at the Second Vatican Council. The Pope then stated that the greatest scandal in the world were the divisions between Christian Churches.
We live in a time of deep political and social division in our nation. In these times of division the goal of this service was to celebrate our unity, the richness of each tradition, rather than our differences. To continue to work together to identify ways to impact our common good of our communities through shared listening sessions and projects.
A key component to this gathering was and is the work of Dallas Area Interfaith. For the past 25 years DAI has inspired numerous Dallas area institutions to work together following its core beliefs that people can listen to the needs of their communities and organize to impact the common good. These efforts have recently resulted in changes to the Dallas City Housing code; issuance of parish IDs, and better and stronger relationships with police departments. DAI is an instrument and institution that helps bridge the gaps between traditions and faiths, bringing people of faith together to serve.
This movement toward unity has now acknowledged that we can best partner by shifting our enthusiasm towards common prayer and works of mercy – work done together to help the sick, the poor, the immigrant, and the imprisoned. Pope Francis, along with Bishop Munib Younan of the Lutheran World Federation, marked the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran reformation in October 2017 in Lund, Sweden. On that occasion Pope Francis said “To do something together is a high and effective form of dialogue – we need to work together!” We celebrated that hope, to explore and appreciate the richness of our traditions on January 27th and we pledge to continue to work together.
A newly released study from Stanford University demonstrates that the vitriolic immigration debate and crackdown in Arizona is harming unborn children through markedly lower birth weights and lower birth rates for immigrants. Specifically, the study found that immigrant Latinas in Arizona who were pregnant during the debate over Senate Bill 1070, and gave birth in the six-month period between July and December 2010, had babies with lower birthweight compared with those in prior years. Study author Dr. Torche said, “It is the fear itself that can have a negative effect on women.” The number of births among Latina immigrants in Arizona during the second half of 2010 also decreased.
In response IAF organizer Joe Rubio asserts that legislation like SB 1070:
“was meant to scare people out of the state. The intention was to turn us against each other, especially the ‘show me your papers’ dimension of the bill.”
Immigration enforcement laws of that time sowed mistrust and suspicion in communities, Mr. Rubio said, noting that a number of parishes in Phoenix saw Mass attendance and community participation plummet. Children would call their homes after school to see if it was “safe,” he said, explaining it was considered dangerous if police officers were in the neighborhood.
“Who’s going to report crimes? Mean-spirited legislation affects not only this generation but generations to come,” he said. “You are hurting citizen children, future workers and, from a larger perspective, you’re damaging the body of Christ. We pursue this type of fear-based legislation to our peril.”
[Photo Credit: Catholic News Service photo / David Maung, EPA]
Study Finds Immigration Crackdowns Harm Unborn Children, America Magazine [pdf]
At COPA's 3rd Mental Health/Addiction Civic Academy, 40 participants gathered at Calvary Episcopal in Santa Cruz to learn about related stigmas and data gaps. Carol Williamson, an Aptos UMC & NAMI leader, delivered the teaching after which participants shared their experiences of how mental health and addiction impacts their families.
Over 150 have participated in similar civic academies, so far, as COPA works to engage 500 people across Central California, breaking through stigmas and organizing a constituency for change.