By Joan M. Hagans
Dedicated leaders of faith turned out in great numbers determined to galvanize Brooklyn residents to be counted in the upcoming U.S. Census. The Faith Summit and luncheon was held in the Lillian Minkin Ballroom at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, its sponsor. Several elected officials joined forces with the faith leaders as the Borough of Brooklyn is historically undercounted. It is their mission to dispel the fears and misconceptions which cause Brooklyn residents to lose services and representation.
Bishop Orlando Findlayter of New Hope Christian Fellowship said, “We planned this Faith Leader’s Summit to do two things—
One is to give faith leaders information concerning the U.S. Census to challenge them to get involved, because the census is vital to our communities. That’s how congressional seats and federal funds are distributed. We want to get 100 houses of worship in Brooklyn to commit to being census-counting sites. For us, that means opening your house of worship so that we can have volunteers with iPads signing parishioners up for the census when they come to worship and when they leave their houses of worship.
Houses of worship are beacons of light in the communities they serve. The decision to work in conjunction with community advocates to empower the people is sorely needed in times like these; financial difficulties sometimes hamper the ability of faith leaders to carry out all their initiatives.
Karim Camara, Executive Officer of Faith-Based Community Development Services, implored all leaders to apply for grants for community work. There is presently $20 million available to them.
Archbishop Joseph Alexander of Dominion Credit Union in the Bronx said, “My desire is to establish a location in Brooklyn. My mission is to empower churches in the area of financial management, wealth creation and education.”
A desire of all involved is to also empower members of the various congregations who may be interested in starting small businesses. Commissioner Gregg Bishop from the New York City Department of Small Business Services stressed the importance of one’s responsibility to start, run and grow businesses. His organization assists with free legal assistance, as well as helping those who are interested to find the right lenders.
The gathering of those who’ve dedicated their lives to the service of others was evidence of hope for our city. The organizers were the 67th Precinct Clergy Council, Bishop Orlando Findlayter (New Hope Christian Fellowship), The Worldwide Association of Small Churches, New Creation Ministry and Make It Happen Inc., a consulting firm that assists faith-based organizations. They should all be immensely proud and commended for their timely collaboration. After 251 faith leaders answered the call, there are definite plans to duplicate this in the other boroughs.