Rev. H. David Stewart, retired pastor at Dayton Avenue Presbyterian Church, has served on Interfaith Action’s Board of Directors since 2009.
By Rev. H. David Stewart, Board of Directors
When I became the pastor of Dayton Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1985, I quickly learned about Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul (then called Saint Paul Area Council of Churches) and its Department of Indian Work (DIW). We were impressed by everything we heard, and even more impressed by the personal invitation we received from Sheila WhiteEagle who was the director of DIW at the time. We were immediately immersed in its work, which proved invaluable to a newly arrived pastor and a family learning the idiosyncrasies of a very new home.
As years passed, I learned about other programs of Interfaith Action, finding each of them enriching to my pastoral work and my church’s mission abilities. Very few faith communities can accomplish independently the kinds of collaborative mission and services offered by Interfaith Action. For example, Project Home allowed us the opportunity to be directly involved in homelessness outreach. Interfaith Action’s youth activities are a marvelous adjunct to parish-based youth ministry. And, of course, DIW allows churches to be an integral part of its work through its Diabetes Education, Youth Enrichment, and Holiday Food Bag programs, as well as through regular donations to the food shelf and clothing closet. No single faith community could possibly have the impact of these programs.
As the former name shed the limitations of a “Council of Churches,” Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul was born. While maintaining programs and forging new ways to serve our East Metro neighbors through the Opportunity Saint Paul program and the Farm-Faith Project, Interfaith Action adds new dimensions to how people of all faiths engage jointly in the shared work of community care. Interfaith Action is truly opening doors for local faith communities to make a cooperative impact of far greater importance than any one of us could accomplish alone.
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