Mayor John Lewis’s Second Annual Faith Group Leader Summit

John Lewis doesn’t blow his own horn. So I will. Since taking office over a year ago, Mayor Lewis has for the second time brought together religious leaders throughout Gilbert to develop new relationships with local non-profits and coordinate their outreach efforts. You can read the full newspaper article here: http://www.azcentral.com/community/gilbert/articles/2010/10/08/20101008gilbert-faith-meeting.html

He invited all religious leaders, irrespective of their particular faith. He knew they would want to join together for a common purpose: Help those in need in their own community.

The Gilbert Town Council has been criticized for using tax dollars to fund local charities. Many of us believe that it is not the proper role of government to usurp the responsibility that belongs to each of us. John Lewis felt a personal responsibility to help those charities find other sources of assistance, and the religious community is a natural place to begin.

Sun Valley Community Church designated October 10 as their “Don’t Go to Church; Be the Church” call to action. Their members participated in 50 to 60 community-service projects. Here is their website: www.servesunday.com.

John also shared with me this website: http://www.arizonacityfest.com/
This organization is Arizona wide and involves over 400 churches that volunteer helping others.

Here’s another website: http://www.worldmag.com/compassion/compassion_2010.cfm

This site features small organizations that provide assistance of all kinds: 1) A support group for parents of special needs kids. This group is called “Snappin’” and it comes to help when the families of disabled children are about to snap. 2) Roving retirees hop into their recreation vehicles and hit the road for assignments all over the country, to work at Christian nonprofits, doing masonry, construction, and demolition. They paint, sew curtains, clean, and all happily receive equal pay: zero. 3) A program that allows carefully selected prison inmates to interact with their children for two days in ways they normally couldn’t: playing games, holding hands, sharing a meal, making crafts, lots of hugs. 4) A church service held twice a week where the disabled can sing in the choir and lead the music, take the offering, read Scripture when they can, offer prayer requests, and make as much joyful music as they want to. 5)Freedom For Youth has turned a warren of rundown auto body shops, garages, and warehouses into “Opportunity Avenue,” a main street in miniature with a gleaming faux-western façade which now houses a mechanic’s shop, metal shop, woodworking shop, and an art studio. In the summer, teens sell their items at a week-long farmers market, along with the vegetables they grow in their garden at the end of an alley. 6) A group of Mennonite men and women who come from the Midwest to Colorado and care for the infant children of incarcerated women.

“People in need” come from all walks of life, and are not necessarily the poorest financially. Poverty of the soul could describe some of them. Who among us has not needed help at some time in our lives?

It isn’t only the religious community that helps others. We all do. We are Americans. We are known all over the world for our generosity. It’s in our DNA: We are self-sacrificing leaders and volunteers with a strong commitment to helping others as we would want to be helped in similar circumstances, persevering despite obstacles in our path.

We must not allow Government to steal our compassion from us.

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