Tuesday, April 12, 2016

BOLD Justice Nehemiah Action 2016

As we have done for almost 10 years now, we gathered in one of the few churches in Broward County big enough to hold us all.  We are an ecumenical group, BOLD Justice, who decides on a set of issues each year, and works to bring some positive social change to places where justice is not flourishing.

Some years we've worked on having more jobs earmarked for Broward county residents when big companies bid on construction projects.  We've worked on issues of affordable housing.  We've rallied to bring dental care to people who can't afford it.

For the past 2 years, we've worked on making civil citations the punishment of first choice for nonviolent crimes committed by minors.  We have seen that widespread adoption in Broward county, but not yet been successful in making a statewide mandate.  We've also worked on getting more oversight of assisted living facilities.  This year, we've been studying how the mentally ill are treated when arrested, and we've asked for more training for the police.

Each year we do a Nehemiah action where we bring authorities who could make change to our group.  We politely lay out the issue and our vision for change, and we ask for support.  Some years, we get a yes.  Some years, we get a "We'll work on it," which is basically a no.  Some years, we get stony silence from authorities.

This year, since authorities were already working on our issues, we got easy acceptance.  So, my friends might ask why we felt a need to go.

I think it's good to gather as an ecumenical group, whether it's to demand justice or work on educational projects or just to have a picnic.  It's good to realize our diversity, while also remembering that we can work together.

I also go to these events because it's wonderful to sit with my church group as we work for change--that's an element of church life that's always been important to me.  I have fond memories of ecumenical groups that came together to pray for peace in South Africa, to make Christmas baskets for homeless women, and on and on I could go.

I know that I could be more active--this group has subgroups that do much, much more.  But for now, what I can do is to show up once a year, to make a decisive showing with our bodies that the group is not lying when they say they represent thousands of religious people who demand justice.

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