Friday, November 12, 2010

Moving forward in several areas

The Nothern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative made progress in several areas at its Oct. 15 meeting.

For one, we are proceeding with a survey of faith communities in Northern Berkshire to determine what services they provide to meet basic human needs, and we already have the results from several churches surveyed by our members.

We hope that compiling this information will help make these services better known, perhaps inspire faith communities or others to fill in gaps in available services, and also promote awareness of the Interfaith Action Initiative.

Though for the sake of moving ahead on the survey I did not contact those members of the Initiative who were not present at the October meeting, they are welcome to participate. We still have numerous faith communities that no one has yet been assigned to survey. So let us know if you wish to help with this.

In our efforts to explore needs in our community and find agencies to help, we now have a committee exploring the possibility of setting up mentoring relationships with clients of Louison House.

Nothing has been determined yet, but this is an exciting step in our effort to find ways to make a difference at a time of growing need. Our effort to explore community needs and find ways to help will continue. I can think of other agencies we might also have cooperative efforts with, including those we have spoken with at our meeting, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Berkshire Food project, among others.

Also at the Oct. 15 meeting, those present voted unanimously to oppose Massachusetts ballot Questions 1, 2 and 3. We composed and sent out a letter to the editor publicly stating our opposition to these questions. Though I do not think the letter made it into print before the election, at least we took a stand.

In addition to community service, the Initiative aims to promote interfaith understanding. To this end, the silent prayer and faith sharing portion of our meetings has really taken off, with people putting their all into meaningful presentations. For our November meeting, everyone is invited to bring something meaningful to share — but if you don’t, that’s fine, too. Just come to the meeting.

(Myself, I think I will give a very brief biography of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, as that is the new name of my church!)

For more information, e-mail, call Mark at 664-0130 or visit


Here’s the letter to the editor about the Mass. ballot questions:

To the Editor:

The Nothern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative — a group of people

of various faiths seeking to serve the community — voted at its Oct.

15 meeting to express opposition to the three initiatives on the Nov.

2 ballot in Massachusetts.

We urge a “no” vote on Question 1, which would remove the 6.25 percent

sales tax on alcoholic beverages and alcohol. This measure, largely

supported by package stores and beer distributors, would take away

state money for drug and alcohol treatment for more than 100,000 state

residents. Nearly every state has in place a sales tax on alcohol in

addition to excise taxes. With a large state budget deficit looming, a

special exemption for alcohol makes no sense.

We also urge a “no” vote on Question 2. This question would repeal the

state law dating from 1969 meant to facilitate low- or moderate-

income housing by streamlining the permitting process for such

housing. The law has resulted in 58,000 homes across the state.

Question 2 would leave Massachusetts without an affordable housing

law. Dozens of individual clergy members across the state have come

out against Question 2, as have the Massachusetts Association of

Jewish Federations and the Massachusetts Catholic Conference.

We also urge a “no” Vote on Question 3, which would reduce the state

sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent. This irresponsible proposal

would take away $2.5 billion in state revenue at a time when local aid

has already been cut by 25 percent in the last two years. This would

mean less money for schools, parks, roads, youth programs and services

to seniors.

On behalf of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative

Corrine Case (Adams)

Mark Lincourt (North Adams)

Sally Sussman (Williamstown)

Al Nelson (Clarksburg)