September 26, 2006
An impressive number of local churches, mosques, and temples are joining forces in an effort to bring change in our area. This is an example being set all over the nation. Members of Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish faith putting aside their religious differences in an effort to focus on one goal: bettering their community. Ours in Charlottesville are concentrating on making life easier for those in need.
"When you unleash the power of God on this earth, you'll be surprised at what is going to happen," Father McAuliffe of Holy Comforter Catholic Church explained.
That message is what led parishioners from all different faiths to join together in what's called the 'Assembly of IMPACT.' The groups mission? To come up with solutions to areas of weakness in our community with a common underlying factor.
"Economics are behind all of these issues, health care, affordable housing, etc. If you can't get a decent wage, you can't afford any of these things," Glenn Short of Thomas Jefferson Unitarian church said.
That's why close to 600 people from 20 different congregations met Tuesday night and decided to combat housing and transportation, what they see as the two most pressing issues facing our community.
"It's a lot of people that want to go to church and don't have transportation to go to church and it's a lot of people who work on Sundays and they don't have transportation," Rhonda White of Evergreen Baptist said.
With the issues identified, a research phase will follow to decide where to go next.
It's that directed effort, coupled with their powerful message, that leaders feel will be the key to seeing significant change, regardless of the obstacles along the way
"I'm very optimistic, I don't expect it to be easy. We know that it's going to be tough, anything good often times is tough," IMPACT Co-President Reverend Bruce Beard said.
The group has good reason to be that optimistic; a sister IMPACT organization out of Florida convinced their county to redirect $26 million to fund health care for people with no insurance.
Leaders of the group are hoping to have some changes in place as early as this spring.