Tag Archives: Quad Cities Interfaith

“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.

faith and criminal justice

People with mental illness who commit crime are trapped in a one-size-fits-all criminal justice system. Prison doesn’t address the underlying illness. A lack of support resources means people with mental illness who have been released from prison are very likely to reoffend. It is expensive, unfair, and does our communities no good.

Thankfully, local people of faith are exploring establishing a mental health court in Scott County, Iowa. Such a court–like the Scott County drug court–could demonstrate both accountability and compassion and help restore people to wholeness and productivity.

Quad Cities Interfaith invites you to a community meeting to advance this cause on Thursday, June 18th at 6:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad Cities at 3707 Eastern Avenue, Davenport, Iowa.

This effort is worthy and timely. It expresses faith values, like those expressed in “The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries,” a 2013 ELCA Social Statement. This statement is a teaching tool, a guide for public advocacy, and an invitation to act for change.

The video below introduces the statement. It’s the first in a series of five. -PC

restorative justice community meeting

Scott County’s Drug Court is one example of “restorative justice.” Instead of going to prison, drug offenders can enter a long-term, intensive process of recovery, mentoring, and accountability. It is a secular government program. Even so, it enacts Christian faith values.

Every Friday Drug Court convenes. The Friday I visited, Judge Marlita Greve presided. It was intense–a powerful mixture of grace and consequences, honest self-reflection and personal transformation.

On Thursday evening, May 7, Quad Cities Interfaith will host a community meeting on restorative justice and ways people of faith can work together to advance our values in the area of criminal justice.

I will be in attendance, as QCI’s Faith Leaders Caucus chairperson. Email me if you are interested in coming too. -PC

Still Listening

James 1:19: Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

We are in the planning stages of starting another Listening Campaign…gathering a team and getting ready to Listen Strong!

There will be training on March 28th, 9 am-3 pm at Edwards United Church of Christ on Jersey Ridge hosted by Quad Cities Interfaith and Gamaliel.  Everyone is welcome to participate in the training.  If you are interested in being on the team, would like to be a better listener, or are just curious, come join us!

I can personally attest to the power of listening, the impact it has made, and the relationships that listening builds!

What if we were all better listeners and it became a way of everyday living?

Contact Pastor Clark or Julie Schoville for more information.

For Him,
Julie Schoville