NGO’s (Non-Government Agencies) do a lot in the community to help fill in the gaps where those who need additional help can get it. These NGO’s rely heavily on personal donations and volunteers to support but the faith community is one of the biggest areas of support. East Cooper Community Outreach, East Cooper Meals on Wheels, East Cooper Habitat for Humanity, and East Cooper Faith Network have in the past held separate prayer coffee’s or luncheons to not only show our support to the faith community but to also use these gatherings to inform and discuss how we can work better as a community. Understanding that people of faith are just as busy as the rest of us, we thought it would be beneficial to invite all East Cooper Faith Leaders to host one luncheon to meet and learn more about how we are currently having a positive impact on our community and gather some ideas about improvements for the future.
We all witnessed a great coming together of a community last June in the Mother Emanuel AME Church tragedy in Charleston. This is why Dean Stephens of Charleston’s Channel 4 News was asked to speak about a “Journalists Perspective on the Mother Emanuel Shooting” and lead a discussion on coming together as a community of faith. Dean spoke of their (journalists) role in how not to pre-judge, get too emotional, and try to stay with the facts when reporting. This was particularly hard for Dean as for when the news came out, he knew, albeit lightly, one of the victims. He went on to describe how tough it was for him and his team to report on this as it struck home and so close; something you wouldn’t expect to report on in Charleston. He also talked about how this didn’t become a Baltimore or Ferguson as Faith kept Charleston strong and was deeply moved by the forgiveness the community showed after the tragedy.
There were 18 Faith Groups represented with a total of 55 attendee’s. When you look at these 4 nonprofits, they do cover a lot of areas; literacy, education, home building, fix and repair, health, and empowerment; areas where government cannot always be there to support. However, as our area continues to grow we need to think of those that are not being pulled upward and ask how are their lives affected? How do we work together as people of faith to ensure our neighbors are not left behind and are treated with respect so that they too can grow?
The big takeaways from the luncheon was that if we really wish to help, to make a positive impact on our community, no one nonprofit or faith group can do it alone. If we wish to work together on these issues, we need to find areas of common ground and agree on a plan of action. The objective of the luncheon was not to meld together into one faith group, but to rather recognize we all worship differently but can find common ground on areas and take action and to seek out, together, areas that need support. By working together we can continue to ensure that we are contributing to the betterment of our community.