May 31, 2018

In early May I was pleased to represent Lakeshore and Oakland Community Organizations (I am Co-Chair of the OCO Board along with Pastor Michael Wallace of Mt. Zion Baptist Church) at the Faith in Action National Gathering in our nation’s capital. Faith in Action is the new name of the PICO National Network of which OCO and PICO California are members. Its purpose is to support grassroots organizing which enables people of faith to build power to reshape their lives and their communities. This network of organizations trains leaders and equips them with tools to fight racism and make society more equitable. I invite you to visit its website at faithinaction.org.

Over the course of the three-day conference, we engaged in times of teaching, discussing and planning as well as celebrating the retirement of long-time Executive Director, Scott Reed, and welcoming incoming Executive Director, The Reverend Alvin Herring. I alternated between being inspired, overwhelmed, interested, frustrated, tired and energized.

These are some of statements and quotes I found most meaningful:

  • “We only know that God is a very present help in time of trouble when we are in trouble or at least in the proximity of trouble.” —The Reverend Dr. Stephanie Gould, Pastor from Missouri
  • “This country wants to use immigrant bodies but it doesn’t really want immigrants.” —Rich Morales, Director of La Red, Faith in Action’s program for immigrant justice
  • “We need to honestly lament the pain we experience and the stress we are under. It doesn’t go away if we try to stuff it down, and trying to stuff it down can actually kill us.” —Will Dickerson, Organizer from Massachusetts
  • “We talk about winning, but winning is more than transformation of the system but the transformation of ourselves, a fundamental transformation of humanity.” —The Reverend Ben McBride, Co-Director, PICO California
  • “The early abolitionists actually believed they could end slavery.” —The Reverend Alvin Herring, Executive Director, Faith In Action
  • “What is leadership? A Hartford Seminary cohort of leaders studied this question for two years and came to the realization that leadership is best described as influence.” —The Reverend Dr. George Cummings, Executive Director, OCO
  • “Politicians see faith communities as the place to get votes rather than the place to get policy.” —Bishop Dwayne Royster, Political Director, Faith In Action
  • “I am actually pro-police. I help them by going after the ones who are brutal and corrupt.” —Larry Kasner, District Attorney, Philadelphia, PA
  • “I am a Matthew 25 Christian. My parents taught me that if you want to get into heaven you better have letters of reference from those living in the shadows of life.” —Tom Perez, Chairman, Democratic National Committee

Faith in Action. There are likely as many ways to put faith into action as there are people. What is imperative is that we each find a way to do so. Faith is deeply personal, but it was never intended to be private. As the book of Hebrews reminds us, faith is the evidence of things hoped for.

Peace,

Jim H.