This past spring four members of First Church (Pastor Beth Jarrett, Brenda Fox, Micah Morris, and Carol Stickley) attended the kick-off meeting of Faith in Action here in Harrisonburg. Faith in Action is an interdenominational organization formed to solve systemic problems in the local community and county. It seeks to move beyond charity to address the root causes of problems. Faith in Action is modeled on the IMPACT (Interfaith Movement Promoting Action by Congregations Together) organization in Charlottesville, and was started by a group of five individuals who make up the steering committee.
Covenant churches join Faith in Action by nominating two representatives and offering a contribution toward its operation. The churches also commit to undertake a listening process with members of their congregations to identify those community issues which they are most concerned about.
Faith in Action undergoes an annual cyclical process whereby issues are identified and researched and then an outreach and lobbying effort is undertaken with local leaders. Each year a specific issue is chosen for the organization to focus its attention upon. At its September 27 meeting, the issue of Immigrant Justice was announced as the focus of the 2015-2016 year. This issue will be narrowed to a specific topic during the fall research phase as meetings are held with immigrant agencies and individuals.
Currently sixteen churches are covenant congregations. They include Methodist, Presbyterian, Mennonite, Catholic, and Lutheran churches among others. If you would like to learn more about Faith in Action, you can go to their webpage at http://www.harrisonburgfaithinaction.org/.
The recent controversy over whether to build a new jail in Harrisonburg showed how effective community involvement can be. Faith in Action offers the opportunity to become involved on a similar scale. Is First Church of the Brethren ready to carry forward the spirit and enthusiasm of our Weekend of Service to join with our brothers and sisters in the faith and address problems in Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County?
As our ministry teams and congregation begin to build our budget for 2016, we hope that the First Church congregation will support the modest amount included in the Witness Team’s 2016 budget for Faith in Action and that we will undertake a listening/action process to identify those community issues which most impact our congregation.
The Witness Team Members
Beth Cash, Chair, Sharon Helbert, Vice Chair, Brenda Fox, Joyce Leake, and Carolyn & Larry Seilhamer