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Creative Advocacy from Theological Roots
Session 2013: We Still Have Work To Do
Hey, Legislature: Raise My Taxes!
Loaves and Fishes and Collective Responsibility
A Home for All: Homelessness Training
On Thursday morning, JRLC co-hosted a training on homelessness with the Interfaith Youth Leadership Coalition. Twenty-six people attended the event at the Saint Paul Area Council of Churches. Participants ranged from middle school students to retirees and included a whole contingent of youth from Salem Lutheran Church in Mahtowa.The training was a lot of fun and a great success!
IYLC interns Rachel and Isabel began the session by talking about religious pluralism and how building interfaith relationships based on shared values can lead to effective action for social change. This discussion prompted me to reflect on what interfaith work really means to me. There is something very powerful and uplifting about setting aside division or even just a tendency to stick to our own groups and choosing cooperation. Alliances across different faiths not only foster understanding but also strengthen our influence as we work for justice.
Since the focus of the morning was homelessness, I presented some statistics about the homeless in Minnesota. For instance, did you know that 47% of homeless Minnesotans are 21 years old or younger? Then, a young spoken word artist gave a moving and insightful account of her own experience of homelessness as a child and as a teenager. Her story was powerful and inspiring.
After Alison shared some strategies for effective advocacy, the training ended with direct action in the form of postcards and phone calls to their congresspeople. Participants expressed their concern about homelessness and potential cuts to human services programs that may be on the table as part of the recent federal debt ceiling deal. The mood was festive as some people called their representatives in Congress for the very first time.
One of the most heartening aspects of the training was the sense that connections were being made in the room. People had time to interact and seemed excited to meet each other. Some participants represented organizations addressing homelessness such as Project Home, Hearth Connection, The Family Place, and MICAH. Others were affiliated with a church or synagogue. I witnessed many fruitful exchanges that reminded me how important it is to unite and coordinate our efforts so that together we can be a stronger voice for social change.