Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The REAL IMPACT - making a difference since 2006

How is IMPACT able to effect REAL change in Charlottesville and Albemarle County?
  • IMPACT is the most diverse faith-based organization of its kind in Virginia, 33 congregations allied for justice.
  • The Nehemiah Action is one of the largest meetings of its kind on the east coast and the LARGEST in Virginia.

What has IMPACT done for our community?
  • Pushed for, and gotten, increased bus service to under-served neighborhoods. Not to mention service on Sundays, allowing thousands of riders to attend church, go to work, or otherwise lead normal lives on Sunday.
  • Advocated, and increased, the funding for and attention paid to affordable housing for those at the lowest level of income - people who are essential to our community, but can't afford to live here, or even nearby.
  • Pressed for, and obtained, increased dental health care for those without means, lightening the burden on our emergency rooms, and improving the health of our entire community.

What is IMPACT working for this year?
  • A commitment to pre-Kindergarten programs - in these difficult times, we can't neglect our future, and we must truly "leave no child behind."
  • A commitment to the creation and implementation of language access plans in the local legal system - the law supports this, the community needs this. Ignoring it, or denying access, degrades the performance of the legal system as a whole.

For us to continue to make a REAL IMPACT in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, we just need you to show up at the Nehemiah Action at 6:30pm on March 22 at University Hall. By your presence, we make a REAL IMPACT.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

IMPACT Rally this week - hope to see you there!

Please consider attending the IMPACT Rally this coming Thursday, February 25th at 6:45PM at the Church of the Incarnation.

Some folks get a little confused by the IMPACT lingo (Assembly? Rally? Action?), so here's a little explanation in question and answer format:

Q: What's the difference between the Rally and the Action?
A: The RALLY is where IMPACT will announce exactly what we are seeking from the city and county stake-holders in regards to pre-K education, as well as interpretive services in the legal system. We will build momentum and energy for the Action in March. There will be wonderful music, prayer, reflection, and testimony on the issues.

Q: Which meeting is more important?
A: Well, unquestionably, the Nehemiah Action in March is where we want to have the greatest attendance. If you can attend only one event, the Action is key. But if you can't make the Action in March, or can be present both nights, PLEASE come on Thursday night!

Q: Why should I bother with the Rally?
A: Great question! Here are three reasons:
1. Issue updates. When you remind your friends and neighbors about the Action, and they want to know what's at stake, you can tell them in detail.
2. Inspiration. We have had fantastic turnout for the Nehemiah Action in the past. Other congregations need our encouragement and support at the Rally, and your presence will inspire them.
3. Wonderful music? Prayer? Reflection? A joyous night with IMPACT member congregations? Say no more!

If you have any questions about the Rally, the Action, the issues, or IMPACT in general, please don't hesitate to email or call me.

This quote is a wonderful interpretation of John 15:13 ("Greater love has no one than this..."):
When we think about laying down a life for another we usually think in terms of a singular event. But it is possible for us to lay down our lives over the course of a lifetime, minute by minute and day by day. And it is the work of the Spirit to empower us as we seek to lose ourselves in acts of lovingkindness and sacrificial living.

- Elaine Puckett, professor at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia

I hope you will consider sacrificing an evening or two for those in our community who are suffering due to inequalities in our education and legal system, and for the greater cause of justice.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bishop Katharine, Prophets, and IMPACT

I'm still processing the many challenging and invigorating ideas and images presented by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori during her visit to celebrate St. Paul's centennial this past weekend.

Like a musical work that reveals more with each listening, when I reflect on the things she said and, just as importantly, how she said them, I find myself being drawn further into God's mystery and the questions that bring us together.

I had the privilege of playing guitar with the youth group on Friday night, with the added benefit of participating in the talk that followed. Here's what most impressed me about Bishop Katharine's retelling of her journey:

1. Bishop Katharine's talents were recognized by the people around her, and they encouraged and supported her development. Her only agenda is furthering God's work.
2. She was never certain of what lay around the next corner, and sometimes questioned whether she was making the right decision, but was always open to God's will.

It is this "open-ness" that most impressed me. Her serenity invited participation, her answers invited further questions, her presence made all feel welcome.

Her Sunday sermon concerned prophets/profits. It's worth reading (or re-reading) in its entirety (on Rev. Jim's blog), but I wanted to highlight a portion that has specific meaning for me and the work we all do with IMPACT.
"Every time we see and speak out about injustice, or the need for healing or reconciliation, we’re both speaking in God’s name and pushing for progress toward God’s vision. Loving our neighbors is intimately wrapped up in that prophetic work of telling the truth of what is and what ought to be.

...Your next hundred years will be built on that kind of courage to speak truth, to pluck up and pull down human structures of injustice, and to build and plant a community of peace.

...Prophets may be quaking in their boots, like MLK the night his house was bombed, but they keep on speaking, and they keep on moving toward God’s perfection. May your words and deeds be bold!"

That is the truth: our work for justice in our community is an expression of our love for our neighbors. Our work for justice is to "build and plant a community of peace."

Thank you, Bishop Katharine, for your wisdom and your courage.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

More IMPACT coverage

Here's something I should have posted a while back. Will Peyton, Associate Rector at St. Paul's Ivy, appeared in a segment on CBS 19 News last week. He did a great job explaining how IMPACT's work transcends faith barriers and finds a common goal in furthering the cause of justice.

Jay James on Faith: Religious Diversity

Will emphasizes how IMPACT's efforts foster constructive interfaith dialogue. By concentrating on shared aims, we make progress while deepening a sense of community.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Spanish-language coverage for IMPACT

IMPACT recently received a nice write-up in Nuevas Raices, a regional Spanish-language newspaper:

Hispanos involucrados en IMPACT

and here's a passable machine translation,

It's great that IMPACT is getting more exposure in all the populations in our community. The issues which we've taken on in the past number of years affect ALL of us, regardless of our mother language. This is a great step towards bringing us together in our call for justice.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Post-MLK Day Thought

I came across this Martin Luther King, Jr. quote the other day. In light of the holiday and the tragedy in Haiti, I thought it particularly moving:
Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.
- Martin Luther King Jr.
Those suffering from chronic economic injustice are far more vulnerable when disaster strikes. It's important to keep in mind the root causes as we treat the symptoms.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Help for the disaster in Haiti

The devastating news from Haiti continues to pour in. Let our prayers include careful consideration of what we can do to help. There are many organizations working to provide aid. Once you have determined how much you can give, if you need help deciding where to give, here is a good resource at Charity Navigator:
Help Survivors of the Earthquake in Haiti

Particularly for those of us located far from the epicenter of the disaster, but who feel greatly the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters in Haiti, remember the words of George Henry Lewes: "The only cure for grief is action."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year!

We western Christians have just finished our Christmas season (the twelve days of Christmas). This quote helps me transition from the chaos of the holidays back into the demands of the every-day:

When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with their flock, the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace ... to make music in the heart.

- Howard Thurman, American author, civil rights leader, and theologian (1899-1981)

I'm glad and excited to begin the work of Christmas. I'm also glad and excited about the work that's already in process with the IMPACT research committees. I'm grateful for the many hours they've already spent on the issues of early childhood education and interpretive services. I'm confident that we will make real progress this year, thanks to the work of the committee members and all who support IMPACT's efforts.

May our eyes and ears be open to the truth, may our hearts be open to God's will, and may we all have the strength and courage to work for justice and peace in 2010.