RadicalProject Home youth volunteer with guests at Roseville Lutheran Church, which is one of Project Home’s family shelter sites.

By Randi Ilyse Roth

Interfaith Action’s April 12 Annual Assembly was a wonderful evening. Nearly 200 people from all faiths and all walks of life came together at Saint Paul College. The students in the College’s culinary arts program prepared our delicious meal. Thanks to Twin Cities Mobile Jazz, the Javi Santiago Trio played world-class music as we visited and toured an amazing photo exhibit depicting days in the lives of the people in Interfaith Action’s programs.

After dinner, the presentation began with Interfaith Action’s Report to the Community video. Then Rabbi Morris J. Allen of Beth Jacob Congregation provided our Opening Teaching. He talked about the Passover Seder, explaining that the exodus challenges us to engage in “radical empathy in a world of increasing hostility and…violence.” He taught,

[A]nd that is why we are here today together committing ourselves to change a communal sense of self – to reacquaint ourselves with one another and to find a common mission… What this gathering is saying tonight – as a rebranded interfaith organization committed to elevating the lives of all – regardless of race or religion or ethnic origin or gender identity is simply this: To rise up together to bring about communal redemption is to uphold the best of who each of us is to be.

Then David Dodson, our keynote speaker, led us in conversation about economic mobility in Saint Paul. He explained to us that Saint Paul children who are born into the fifth income quintile have an unfairly large chance of living out their lives in that quintile. David explained the five factors that account for the “stickiness” of the fifth quintile, and led us in a discussion of the kinds of work we can do to counteract those five factors and build “an infrastructure of opportunity” in our community. Click to watch a full video of his talk or view the PowerPoint slides for his presentation.

David concluded his talk with a quote from Mother Mary Clare of Sisters of the Love of God:

We must try to understand the meaning of the age in which we are called to bear witness. We must accept the fact that this is an age in which the cloth is being unwoven. It is therefore no good trying to patch. We must, rather, set up the loom on which coming generations may weave new cloth according to the pattern God provides.

The next issues of InterActions will explain more about work we can undertake together to set-up that loom and engage in radical empathy to build a truly beloved community.

Warm Regards,

Randi Ilyse Roth
Executive Director