Interesting happenings, exciting opportunities
Our Nov. 19 meeting was interesting. Though several of our regular attendees could not be present because of the funeral of Edna Rudnick, who worked very hard for our community in many ways during her long life, we still had more than 10 people in attendence.
(Our next meeting will be held at the First Baptist Church in North Adams at 10 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 17. Use Eagle Street entrance.)
At the last meeting, I gave an update on the status of our survey of what area houses of worship are doing to meet basic human needs. As of this writing, Wednesday, Dec. 8, we have results back from 12 Northern Berkshire houses of worship, 14 if you count churches in different communities that have joined together.
Obviously we still have a lot to do, and I hope that after the new year we will have a surge of activity to get this effort completed and published.
Which brings me to an important point. This Friday, Dec. 10, at 10 a.m., at the First Baptist Church in North Adams, the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition will hold a discussion on repairing our fraying social safety net as part of its monthly forum. I would encourage all who are involved with the Interfaith effort to attend.
I participated in two planning meetings for this meeting, and what faith communities are doing and can do to meet basic human needs in our community will be a part of this forum, along with a large contribution to the discussion by Community Action, among others.
I know that heating assistance is going to be a major need this winter, and there are many others.
Getting back to the Nov. 19 meeting, Rabbi Jeff Goldwasser noted that the Williamstown Ecumenical Association has disbanded. They had a sort of group voucher system that was coordinated among the churches and helped people in need. It was thought this could be something our group could possibly continue and expand.
It is worth considering, though I think that there would have to be a strong clergy component, because this is something that would usually or often be coordinated by church/synagogue office secretaries, as calls from those in need would likely go directly to a house of worship. I know that people at times would/will show up at the office and rectories of the Catholic Churches looking for help.
Which brings me to a comment I have heard a couple of times recently: That many people just won’t go to churches to seek help. It wasn’t explained to me why, though I can make some guesses. I suppose some people might expect a judgemental attitude and perhaps attempts to be converted. Speaking for faith-based efforts I have been involved in around here, that isn’t so. But it’s worth keeping in mind as we move forward.
Also Nov. 19, our faith sharing component evolved into a political discussion. It was interesting. Also on Nov. 19, I shared my late grandfather’s French-language prayer book he was given at his first Communion in 1912. Priscilla Northrup shared her thoughts on the expression: “The glory of God is the human being fully alive.”
Anyone with a faith or spirituality-related thought or inspiration or item of interest for the December meeting is encouraged to share.
In addition to moving ahead with our survey, and considering the voucher system idea, we need to continue our exploration of cooperating and assisting area agencies. And discuss the nature of this assistance. My preference remains not to tie ourself to one or two agencies, serving as a kind of fundraising arm. Rather I would see us providing volunteers for special tasks, encouraging wider volunteerism in the community, and possibly sponsoring one-and-off fundraising events.
As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I should also note that the new Systems of Care effort is looking for the participation of members of the faith community. I have said I will participate. There will be a meeting in January. I do not have the time here to explain what this is about (and I need to learn more myself) but I hope to get into more detail in a future blog post.
As always, feel free to comment on this blog. Or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or at 664-0130 (please leave a message if I’m not there).