March 7, 2013

Last month I included in my column a letter I wrote in my capacity as the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Baptist Seminary of the West. This month I am including a letter I wrote as a member of the Board of the Lakeshore Business Improvement District. The church has long hosted the meetings of LBID and I have long been a community member. In the most recent LBID charter the church is included as a full member of the Business Improvement District, a legal entity consisting of the commercial property owners on Lakeshore and Lake Park Avenues. The property owners assess themselves an annual fee in order to provide security, street cleaning, events, publicity and other services beyond what the City of Oakland provides. The church pays an annual fee of $1000 ($500 for each of the two parcels of land we own) in order to participate fully. Our fee is much lower than that of the other property owners because we are a not for profit entity. Our membership in the LBID is a clear sign of our commitment to the well being of the Lakeshore neighborhood and a recognition of the fact that there is a connection between the well being of the Lakeshore Business District and the well being of the church.

The letter:

From: Jim Hopkins
To: Pamela Drake
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2013 2:16 PM
Subject: LBID Supports Project Dignity (Draft 1)

To: City Administrator, City Council Members
From: Lakeshore Business Improvement District Board

As leaders of one of Oakland’s most vibrant business districts we urge the City Council to retain in the Biennial Budget of the City the relatively small allocations of funds that go to:

  • the contract with Project Dignity to establish connections between Oakland’s homeless persons and organizations which provide services to the homeless
  • The Public Works Department for clean up of former homeless encampments
  • OPD for the provision of security when the needed clean up is going on

We see these budget items as essential to the maintenance of a humane approach to homeless persons and the problems associated with homelessness as well as the protection of a positive business climate for the merchants of our city and their customers. We do not want to see the homeless deprived of needed services nor do we want aggressive panhandling and public health issues posed by large numbers of homeless persons to undermine the business districts of our city.

Thank you for your commitment to the well being of all.

Changing topics, as you may have heard, The American Baptist Home Mission Societies are, on behalf of the American Baptist Churches USA, presenting me with its biennial American Baptist Religious Freedom Award for my work in defending “Godgiven religious liberty for all.” This is a high honor. It is received gratefully, humbly and with the clear understanding that the award is truly a recognition of our congregation and the ministry, values and commitments we share. It is a statement that our denominational family is respectful and appreciative of the ways in which we represent the Baptist tradition.

On Sunday, April 7, The Reverend Dr. David Laubach, ABHMS Associate Executive Director for Higher Education Ministries, will be with us in worship to present the award. My sermon that day will be “four FRAGILE freedoms.” Its theme will be that the four freedoms at the heart of our Baptist tradition – Soul Freedom, Bible Freedom, Church Freedom and Religious Freedom – are indeed fragile because of they way they are so often misused and misunderstood. I would count it an honor if you would make plans to be in attendance this Sunday after Easter. Let it be a celebration of us.

Peace,

Jim H.