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Michigan Faith in Action Holds a Series of Public Assemblies Culminating in Lansing, MI
Michigan Faith in Action (MFA) invited clergy, grassroots and other concerned leaders from across the state to engage in building a more moral Michigan using their combined political power as a vehicle. The group welcomed leaders of all faiths to participate in their series of regional Public Leadership Assemblies taking place in Lansing, Battle Creek, Jackson, Flint and Detroit, MI. Participants discussed their concerns for the city and how gaining collective power will improve the overall outcomes.
On Saturday, March 2, 2019, Michigan Faith in Action hosted a Statewide Public Assembly at Trinity A.M.E. Church in Lansing, MI. State and city leaders such as State Representative Kara Hope, State Representative Sarah Anthony and City of Lansing Mayor Andy Schor gathered with local leaders from various Michigan cities to receive responses and plans for future actions on issues impacting state residents. Issues included affordable housing, Raise the Age Initiative, statewide education reform and rebuilding community.
As people of faith, we are compelled to identify the problems that residents of Michigan are facing around social injustices. It is our goal to build power in order to transform communities with solutions created and identified by the community.
Song- “I Woke Up this Morning with my Mind Stayed on Freedom.”
Rev. John Burns, First AME Church of Farmington Hills, MI
State Representative Sarah Anthony, District 68, Lansing, MI
State Representative Kara Hope, District 67, Lansing, MI
Mayor Andy Schor, City of Lansing, MI
Mrs. Gwendolyn Bodiford, Trinity AME Church, Lansing, MI
Rev. Kay Porter, St. Matthew AME Church, Lansing, MI
Rev. Ron Brooks, Brookside United Methodists Church, Jackson, MI
Rev. Chad Parmalee, Chapel Hill United Methodist, Battle Creek, MI
MFA Host Statewide Clergy and Community Leaders Luncheon
On September 29 national activist and clergy leader Rev. Alvin Herring challenged Michigan faith and community leaders to move beyond social norms and look deeply into the plight of people around us. In MFAs first statewide clergy meeting, Herring led a stirring training that challenged the audience to let their faith-based values lead them into becoming active change agents. Herring also declared that in order to manifest change in Detroit we need:
•an understanding of racism in America and how that affects Detroit;
•the ability to work across lines of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, etc;
•to build structures that funnel power;
•to allow individuals to document and publicize their own stories;
•and we need to take action against oppressive forces.
The luncheon event also featured presentations from Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending, the Michigan League for Public Policy as well as a report out from Michigan Faith in Action on our statewide expansion.
Alvin Herring is Deputy Director for Faith in Action or FIA, Michigan Faith in Actions national affiliate organization. Faith in Action or FIA is a national network of faith-based community organizations working to create innovative solutions to problems facing urban, suburban and rural communities. Since 1972 Faith in Action or FIA has successfully worked to increase access to health care, improve public schools, make neighborhoods safer, build affordable housing, redevelop communities and revitalize democracy.
MFA Joins Justice Or Else March in Washington DC
Participants from Michigan Faith in Action's Youth United to Change Program (YU2C) joined the Justice Or Else March in Washington DC over the October 9th weekend. YU2C is a youth leadership development and educational program for teens and young adults designed to teach participants how to address the challenges they face through increased civic engagement, leadership development, and improved understanding of the way public and private resource's interface for community good. YU2C enables participants to experience best practices in education, community development, and effective models of community engagement, while also allowing them to devise concrete strategies to identify, address, and find support for their efforts in the community.
YU2C joined members of the Nation of Islam, as well as numerous organizations and community leaders from Flint and surrounding areas, to converge on Washington for 10.10.15 the "Justice Or Else!" march. On the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March Minister Farrakhan declared that the widespread death, rising racism, and police brutality on Blacks coupled with economic deprivation and stark poverty, requires that something must be immediately done to address and correct the condition. His message included the plight of veterans, the poor as well as other community of color.
MFA Supports Backpack Giveaway on Detroits East Side
On September 5th, Michigan Faith in Action partnered with Detroit based activists Yusef Shakur and Blair Anderson on a back to school supply giveaway and community event that fed roughly 400 community members and gave away over 200 book bags filled with supplies on Detroit's lower east side. As local organizer and activist Blair Anderson noted, "the best thing about the event was the community ownership. Because the community was involved with every level of the planning process, they fully owned the event, stepping in to volunteer and make sure everything was running smoothly."
The event featured food, two inflatable jumpers, music, leather crafting demonstrations, information about local food justice programs, treats for children and most importantly, a call to action on behalf of Yusef Shakur. "If we look at our history, poverty has never been an excuse for bad behaviour. It's been every excuse for us to stick together, pool our resources and build our community. That's why it's so important that we put the neighbor back in the hood. If we don't care for each other than who else will?" Urges Yusef in his standard state of the neighborhood address.
"As organizers, when we enter into a community, it's essential that we enter as listeners, honor community voice and resist to stepping in with our own agendas," says Rick Carter, Michigan Faith in Action's Executive Director. This perfectly frames MFA's approach to organizing in Detroit. "We are building strong connections to the grassroots and nonprofit sectors while expanding on our existing relationships with clergy in Detroit. We are committed to getting our information from the horse's mouth, build genuine deep relationships and diligently honor the voices of the most adversely impacted community members as we organize" continued Carter.
MFA Hosts Flint Mayoral Debate
On October 13th, Michigan Faith in Action hosted a debate between Flint Mayoral candidates Mayor incumbent Dayne Walling and challenger Karen Weaver. In front of an audience of over 200 spectators, each candidate outlined their vision for Flint regarding the many challenges and opportunities that Flint faces as a community. Issues addressed include the charter-revision initiative, neighborhood safety, economic recovery, the drinking-water crisis and education reform.
Nonpartisan and multicultural, Michigan Faith in Action, formally Flint Area Congregation Together, has been committed to involving the Flint community in meaningful exchanges with elected officials since 2007. Our efforts have resulted in the successful adoption of a new Flint Master Plan in 2013, the adoption of a Flint ceasefire initiative to reduce violent crime as well as hosting several forums for Flint residents to meet with city officials to discuss the issues that matter most to them. MFA has grown since then to an organization with a statewide impact. We believe that the best way to find solutions to community issues is to involve the people who are most affected by them. That involvement can successfully occur, among other places, in places of worship.
Legislative Win for Michigan
In maintaining our mission to bring together people of faith, institutions, and organizations to build community and address the root causes of poverty, violence and division, Michigan Faith in Action is excited to announce our participation in the national Faith in Action or FIA campaign LIVE FREE.
The Live Free Campaign is a movement of the Faith in Action or FIA of faith-based organizations and congregations committed to addressing the causes of pervasive violence and crime in our communities. We believe that the mass criminalization and incarceration of people of color, coupled with the lack of meaningful and quality opportunities, have contributed to a state of crisis in our country. Live Free is committed to dismantling the mass-criminalization of people of color by mobilizing the faith community to action using the voices of those closest to the pain in order to build communities where all of God's children can live free.
Towards this end, MFA has partnered with Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending (CAPPS) to support legislative efforts to reduce Michigan's prison population. With a broad show of bipartisan support, we recently celebrated the passing of Michigan House Bill 4138, known as the presumptive parole bill. The bill must now make it through the Senate and be approved by Governor Snyder before it can become law.
Recently Governor Snyder endorsed the bill commenting, "Michigan needs a smarter criminal justice system that doesn't simply punish people who commit crimes, but frees up resources that can instead be used on effective efforts to reduce criminal activity and make our communities safer."
Within five years of approval, the presumptive parole bill has the potential to safely release release approximately 3,200 prisoners and save Michigan taxpayers roughly $75 million dollars per year. For more information on the Live Free Campaign visit: www.livefreeusa.org. For more information on the presumptive parole bill and the efforts of CAPPS visit: http://2015capps.capps-mi.org/