South Milwaukee’s incredible religious diversity is a strength. Now imagine what our local houses of worship could do as partners!
Bringing together our congregations to make them stronger, and uniting their members around common problems, to deliver joint solutions: That’s the idea behind our first-ever Faith Leaders Breakfast held earlier this month at St. Luke’s United Church of Christ.
All were invited. Seven congregations were represented. We’re hoping for even more at our next one, and there will be a next one.
This idea got its start with a conversation I had with local resident Ann Fooks years ago at a National Day of Prayer event. She suggested this would be good for South Milwaukee, and that much became clear as we left our first meeting.
We spent a lot of time simply getting to know each other — this is especially good timing because a number of local congregations have either brought in new leaders recently, or are in the process of leadership changes — and hearing about our local congregations.
We also started the discussion on challenges we face as a community. From homelessness and hunger to the opiate crisis and a reduction of services available to our seniors with the recent Interfaith closure, we certainly face our share of problems. But I’m convinced this group will step up — with the power of their congregations behind them — to help us overcome those.
At the very least, there are opportunities for jointly promoting community activities and events our churches already do — such as the third-Thursday meals offered at First Congregational — and perhaps drive education about the wide variety of religions being practiced in South Milwaukee.
Indeed, there is a huge value in simply talking to each other, demystifying what is happening in that church down the block or the mosque across town. In doing so, we realize we are more alike than different, and stronger together than apart.
Friday’s tragedy in New Zealand brought home this point to me. We need less hate and senseless violence everywhere, and that includes South Milwaukee. We need more positive relationships and unity.
I am hopeful this work will yield those, over time. We’re off to a good start.