Accelerating the Momentum towards Community Transformation

Happy 2016! It’s Mike, Michael Yoder, Associated Ministriesbeen an exciting four months since I joined the team at Associated Ministries, and the learning opportunities continue! Several meetings that I’ve participated in recently have been especially inspirational for me.

Just over a year ago the City of Tacoma announced the creation of an Office of Equity and Human Rights to further their Equity and Empowerment Initiative, which was identified as the City Council’s top priority in 2014.

As part of the City’s outreach efforts, Associated Ministries’ leadership team recently participated in a learning session in our office facilitated by city staff. AM has a strong commitment to becoming an anti-racist, multi-cultural organization, so this session was invaluable. Personally, I learned a lot… starting with the very definition of “equity.”

The concept of equality, which is more familiar to many of us, denotes access and opportunity; equity, on the other hand, is about fairness in outcomes. While equality can be about “same-ness,” equity is about “fairness.”

The City of Tacoma defines equity as “when everyone has access to the opportunities necessary to satisfy their essential needs, advance their well-being and achieve their full potential.” I can’t think of a more foundational goal around which we could unite as a community.

Soon after that meeting I was privileged to attend the PolicyLink Equity Summit in California, as part of a delegation of around 100 people from the Pacific Northwest. Again, it was an eye-opening and profoundly moving experience for me.

In one seminar at the Summit entitled “Faith Leaders Delivering on the Promise of Equity,” Susan Lubeck, regional director for Bend the Arc in San Francisco, shared how she discovered that her work in social justice became exponentially more powerful when she connected it with her own Jewish faith tradition and others in the faith community.

In that same session, the Rev. Willie Brisco, president of Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope, said he has found that secular leaders are waiting for the faith community to stand with them at the front of the line. “We need to humble ourselves and stand with others who don’t believe like us, just like Jesus did; we can’t afford to isolate ourselves behind the walls of our churches.”

Rev. Brisco went on to say, “God calls us to love everyone; we have the power to change the world if we call on God’s power. At such a time as this we must put aside our differences.”

That compelling call aligns perfectly with the mission statement of Associated Ministries: “Uniting people of faith to build stronger communities.” We have farther to go to see true equity realized in our community, but I’m confident we’ll make real progress towards that end in 2016.

I’ve been meeting with faith leaders and other partners all over town and I can testify that there is much great work going on. The opportunity is for us to come together in new ways to accelerate our shared vision for community transformation. Partnership moves at the speed of trust; I’m confident we’ll see accelerated momentum in the year ahead. Thank you for being on the journey with us!

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