Tag Archives: justice

“transforming our neighborhoods” in the news

Last Thursday was a big day for the Quad Cities Interfaith’s Faith Leaders Caucus, which I chair. We held a press conference that received good coverage in local news–newspapers, TV, radio.

Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Unitarian faith leaders from across the Quad Cities invited a deeper partnership between community, police, and faith leaders–for the sake of greater racial equity.

Participating with Quad Cities Interfaith is one way this congregation does its purpose, “boldly transforming our neighborhoods with hope and love.” I’m excited that All Saints Lutheran Church in Davenport was named in the news across the Quad Cities as making a difference in the community.

Thanks be to God.

Pastor Clark Olson-Smith

P.S. In addition to links to the news coverage, a summary of the statement “Partnership for Vibrant, Equitable, and Safe Communities and Policing” is below.

Here is a summary of the statement, which 33 faith leaders have signed onto, including Bishop Michael Burk of the Southeastern Iowa Synod.

“We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper. While one among us is suffering, all suffer. Peace is the presence of harmony, equality, mutuality, safety and space where people can thrive, not simply the absence of violence. These principles are at the core of our diverse faith traditions.”

“Justice and lovingkindness for all—expressed in a renewed and active partnership of civilians and police—is the path to vibrant, equitable, and safe communities and policing. But institutional bias and racism undermine good people and good intentions, harming people and whole neighborhoods. This reality calls us, faith leaders in the Quad Cities, to act together for the sake of a more just and loving community.”

There are five specific things faith leaders are asking for.

  • Prioritizing Community Policing,
  • Ending Racial Profiling
  • Requiring Racial Bias, Crisis Intervention, and Diversity Training
  • Recruiting and retaining officers of color
  • Creating independent civilian oversight boards

“Toward Compassionate, Just, and Wise Immigration Reform”

I am a conflict avoid-er by nature. When a controversial topic comes up, I might simply listen and offer nothing of my own perspective, even though I may hold strong views.

But in baptism, Jesus calls us to boldness for love’s sake. That and All Saints’ and the wider church’s call to me as pastor includes “to speak for justice in behalf of the poor and oppressed.” Justice is God’s love in the public square. Both baptism and ordination invite taking a stand on some matters of public controversy.

So even as I pray, “Make us bold, O Lord!” I also pray, “Keep us in love!” A spirit of hostility and division infects this country’s politics, media, and culture. That evil spirit infects us, tempts us.

As All Saints prays, its leaders also remind themselves of this congregation’s “Respectful Communication Guidelines.” These guidelines are not intended to help us avoid tension or hard conversation. Quite the opposite! They help us engage both in Christ-honoring ways. Oh, how this world needs people practiced in peaceful disagreement!

Immigration reform is a controversy that the Evangelical Lutheran Church has spoken to more than once–first in a social message in 1998 and again in a social policy resolution in 2009.  Both stand outside the particular politics of the moment. They affirm “long-standing Lutheran commitments to both newcomers and just laws that serve the common good.” They also lift up scripture that witnesses to a God who “identifies with the human stranger.”

The 2009 resolution affirms that the immigration system is broken–separating families, marginalizing people, putting communities at risk, and treating all immigration issues as national security issues. It invites leaders to “reunite families and integrate the marginalized,” “protect the rights of people at work,” “establish just and humane enforcement,” “revitalize refugee protection and integration,” and “address root causes of forced migration.” H.R. 15 isn’t perfect, but its passage would be an important step in these directions.

It’s on the strength of these statements and of my own sense of God’s justice that I will participate on Thursday in a walk and prayer vigil for immigration reform, hosted by Quad Cities Interfaith. It will begin at 4:30pm on Thursday, August 20 at the corner of 4th and Main Streets in downtown Davenport and proceed to the Irish Immigrant monument by the transit station.

I invite you to come, walk, and pray. Or simply read the ELCA statements above and consider how your faith informs your stance on immigration.

Lion and Lamb Festival

On August 8, the Lion and Lamb Festival is coming to the Camp Milan Retreat Center, in Milan, Illinois. This is the third annual Lion and Lamb Festival, which celebrates the convergence of music, peace, and justice. The purpose of the Lion and Lamb Festival is to bring people together to inspire and to be inspires by stories of peace, justice, and love.

This year, the headline musical act will be Mitch McVicker. His song “My Deliverer” won the Dove Award for Song of the Year. His latest album, “Grey,” takes a look at the more difficult facets of life and faith. In addition to McVicker, the festival will include Minneapolis singer/songwriter Heatherlyn, Davenport artist Rob Leveridge, Strawberry Point singer Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, and many more.

In addition to the great music, there will be several speakers, including Douglas Wallker.  Walker works for criminal justice reform within the United Methodist Church. Also speaking will be Rev. Sarah Renfro, who is a retired international fashion model who now preaches the gospel of one’s own body.

The festival, which is free of charge, will last from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Local food trucks will be on hand. The speakers will be inside an air-conditioned space, and the main stage will be under a covered pavilion.


Thanking those heroes who support All Saints’ food pantry

A message from Bonnie Strittmater:

We have all heard the quote “It takes a village to raise a child.”  Well, our All Saints Food Pantry and Clothing Closet also

takes many, many hard working, dedicated people to run smoothly while at all times remembering to treat all people with
dignity and respect and many times a hug and a shoulder to cry on.  We don’t just have a place where people can come to 
get some food to help them through or clothing that is free, we have a safe, loving, hopeful atmosphere filled with the 
presence of God and love and prayers for what they are going through.  
At this time I would like to thank a few people keeping in mind that so many people from outside our congregation are also 
dedicated to the ministry we are so blessed to have here at All Saints.
Thank you to Ken Moreland who has been added to our bread pick up list from Hyvee on Devils Glen.  Thank you to Sheryn 
Levings for taking on the work and title, Clothing Closet Coordinator.  She has been a remarkable force to organize, promote and oversee the contributions to our Clothing Closet ministry.  Thank you to Donna Plank, Darlene Toft, Anne Holtan, Marilyn Oliver, Sheryn Levings and all who have helped on work days to sort and organize.  Thank you to Scott Holtan for boxes and to Art Rainey for his presence and help.
Thank you to our Team Leads who every month graciously devote their Saturday to the Food Pantry:  Craig Drake, Sheryn Levings,
Steve Kalber, KD Kalber and Barb Johnson.  Thank you to Craig Drake who does so much from tearing down boxes and taking to 
recycling center to hauling food from the Riverbend Food Bank to lovingly helping a person out with their food box.  
As I said, it really DOES  take a village to support this mission.  For all those that donate, pray for and support this vital ministry:
His humble servant,
Bonnie Strittmater