Friday, April 4, 2014

Nehemiah Action #7

Our church is a member of BOLD Justice, which stands for Broward Organized Leaders Doing Justice; it's a group primarily composed of churches.  Once we had some synagogues too, but they weren't part of this year's action.

Each year, the group has listening sessions with the smaller groups of members and chooses 2-3 justice based issues to work on.  One year it was dental care for the uninsured/poor, for example, and affordable housing is an issue which seems intractable, and thus, we return to it again and again.

This year we addressed the issue of youth crime of the non-serious sort and giving priority to members of the country in hiring for companies of a certain size which do business in our county.  We wanted children who commit non-serious crime (petty theft, for example) to have a chance at a punishment that wouldn't leave them with a criminal record.  I suspect that's already happening, but it's good for officials to know that we're paying attention to the statistics.  We've been working on the jobs issue for several years now, and we're close to having an ordinance passed by our county commissioners.

In some ways, these steps can seem so very small.  We might wonder why we bother.  But if we change the world for the better, even on a scale of just for a hundred people or so, well, that's something.

Last night we met at a Catholic church that was the site of the first Nehemiah action I attended.  Some years we've met in a civic space, but I prefer a church--but there are very few churches in the county which can hold us all.  It was wonderful last night singing "This Little Light of Mine" in  a huge group. I don't get a chance to sing with 1800 people very often.

The Nehemiah action is the culmination of a year of work.  We bring members together with county officials.  Some of those members are people like me, people who show up for the action and not much else.  I'm grateful for the members who do the heavier work, the listening groups, the research groups, the groups that do the initial reaching out to officials.

It's been a grim time period of my life, grim in so many ways, with friends who are having health crises and unexpected deaths and bad news at work.  I like having this kind of experience, something that reminds me of the power of a group gathered together to affect change.  I needed that experience last night.

And hopefully, we're making our county a better place.  We're speaking up for those who have no voices.  We're praying and singing together.  We're articulating a resurrection vision. 

I have to believe that our Nehemiah actions make a difference.  I have to believe that God looks upon us and smiles.

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