VisionYoung family staying at Project Home.

By Randi Ilyse Roth

Let’s look together at some recent news.

On September 17, the headline in the Star Tribune was, “Income plunges for blacks in state.” The report noted that in the past year, the median income for black households in Minnesota fell 14%, from about $31,500 to about 27,000. The median black household in Minnesota is now worse off than its counterpart in Mississippi. The statewide poverty rate for black residents rose from 33% to 38%, compared to a stable overall state poverty rate of 11%.

People of faith who read that news report must ask: What should we do? What can I do? And the questions are not exclusively about the African-American community – they are about all segments of our east Metro community who live in poverty or near poverty.

A September 26 Star Tribune op-ed by Louis J. King II took up the questions and suggested some pathways to better outcomes. His ideas have great merit: they include offering GED services for older adults and providing intense supports to workforce development and to the attainment of post-secondary education and certification. Hopefully, these ideas will form the beginning of a rich and fruitful discussion of how we should move forward.

Interfaith Action’s vision is:

People of faith
will relieve the effects of poverty and
address its causes
through the transformative work
of thousands of volunteers.

It is time to intensify our efforts to activate our vision. How shall we take action? We will start by learning from the faith community about what reality they see on the ground.

Over the next several weeks, staff and board members at Interfaith Action will reach out to clergy and religious leaders of all faiths and races, from congregations and communities in a wide range of economic situations in the east Metro. We hope to meet, face-to-face, to hear your thoughts about questions like:

  • What is life like for your congregants?
  • What are the stumbling blocks, if any, that impede your community members’ economic or educational opportunities?
  • What kinds of high quality programming would help them to realize their life dreams?
  • What can they contribute by volunteering to help others?
  • Would it help you to see a list of all kinds of help available to your community members in your area?
  • Would you like to help form a roundtable to discuss these issues with other clergy and religious leaders?

If you are clergy or a religious leader, you don’t have to wait for us to call you – please be in touch with us. Email me at: rroth@interfaithaction.org or call me at 651-789-3842. We really look forward to learning from these conversations and then forging a plan of action.

Warm Regards,

Randi Ilyse Roth
Executive Director