Trust is the Key: River Heights Powers-Up Its Community

Community members packed the room at River Heights Vineyard Church’s first Community Power-Up event.

By Randi Ilyse Roth, Executive Director

Morning Star Baptist Church strengthens its community through Community Power-Ups. With a hot meal and live jazz, the community gathers in a trusted space to learn about budgeting, credit, employment, legal rights, and more. Our partners in this work include Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS), Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) Financial Counseling, Sunrise Banks, and Twin Cities Mobile Jazz.

Pastor Gay Narron of River Heights Vineyard Church learned of Power-Ups in a Pioneer Press article. She and her church deacons contacted the Power-Up group to learn how the model works. River Heights is seeing an increase in homelessness and wanted to respond. After careful study, they decided to launch their own Power-Up series, in their own way.

On January 9, River Heights held its first Power-Up session, which included a presentation by LSS on “Easy Ways to Improve Your Credit.” The room was packed with people who were hungry for the information. The church plans on having future sessions.

What can we learn from what we’re seeing at Morning Star and at River Heights?

  1. Great Need. The community needs tools for financial survival and information about legal rights.
  2. Great Resources. SMRLS, LSS, Sunrise, and others can teach what the community needs to learn.
  3. Community Openness Hinges on Trust. It’s hard to know from the phone book or from flyers who can really help us or who we should trust. We are more open when a person near the center of our lives makes a connection for us.
  4. Houses of Worship Have Our Trust. Many of us put great trust in our pastor, rabbi, imam, or other spiritual leader. If that person connects us to a needed resource, we will engage.
  5. Houses of Worship Can Help Communities Empower Themselves. Houses of worship can bring in the resources that they trust to spark a spiral of learning and self-empowerment for the people in their faith communities.

Of course, Community Power-Ups are just the beginning. Local clergy leadership has done many powerful things, including forming Community Development Corporations (CDCs), creating employment opportunities, building housing, and more. And Interfaith Action does so much in addition to Community Power-Ups: our DIW Emergency Services, Project Home, Farm-Faith Project, and more are helping families meet their economic needs. All of this work is helping our communities empower themselves from the inside-out. We can accomplish a lot when trust is at the hub of the wheel.

Warm Regards,

Randi Ilyse Roth
Executive Director