Episcopal City Mission Blog

Thursday, December 16, 2010

ECM Joins With Investors in Supporting CORI Reform

Continuing ECM's work to support long term criminal justice reform we recently co-signed a letter that was sent to over 120 businesses and publicly listed companies who operate in Massachusetts urging them to take stock of the new CORI law that went into effect on Nov 4, 2010.

The letter requested these companies to establish non-discrimination policy statements and procedures for qualified applicants with unrelated criminal records. It also offered technical assistance to support these companies as they prepare these new policies.

The letter was sent by Zevin Assessment Management a socially responsible investor based here in Massachusetts and was signed by over 20 local funding entities. To receive a copy of the letter please email kcsimons@diomass.org

Signatories of the letter:

Kelly Bates

Executive Director

Access Strategies Fund

Anne Ellinger


Zing Foundation

Connie Brookes

Executive Director

Friends Fiduciary Corporation

Sister Carole Lombard, CSJ

Director of Justice and Peace

Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston

Wendy Holding

Trustee and Portfolio Manager

Sustainability Group

Nora M. Nash, OSF

Director, Corporate Social Responsibility

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

Nancy Shippen

Executive Director

Our Prison Neighbors

Tim Brennan

Treasurer and CFO

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

Rev. Séamus P. Finn OMI

Director, JPIC Ministry

Missionary Oblates

Daniel Stranahan


Needmor Fund

Dr. Ruy O. Costa

Executive Director

Episcopal City Mission

Corporate Responsibility Program

Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order, Milwaukee, WI

Maurice Emsellem

Policy Co-Director

National Employment Law Project

Lew Finfer

Massachusetts Communities Action Network

Sister Marie J. Gaillac, CSJ

Corporate Responsibility Coordinator

JOLT, Catholic Coalition for Responsible Investing

Shelley Alpern

Vice President, Director of ESG Research & Shareholder Advocacy

Trillium Asset Management Corporation

Julie Johnson

Managing Director

Fresh Pond Capital

Marjorie O. Coward


The Jersey Foundation

Margaret M. Winslow


The Robin Gamble Grinnell Foundation

Ann Grinnell


MA Grinnell Foundation

Karla Nicholson

Executive Director

Haymarket People's Fund

Major Neill Franklin

Executive Director

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Executive Director's Op Ed Published by Episcopal News Service


Episcopal Life Online

Access to decent, affordable housing is a basic human right

[Episcopal News Service] This is not a revelation but a fact: Individuals and families of low and moderate income can't make ends meet. They are the working poor. They are here in Massachusetts. They are in my community. They are across the country. They are in your community.

Often those in need are the faces you see every day. They are normal people working hard, sometimes at several jobs, just to pay their rent, put food on the table and or even trying to help their kids pay for college, their pathway to a better life. They are living, but just barely.

Recently, Massachusetts voters were given a ballot question to repeal the affordable housing law -- Chapter 40b, as it's referred to here in Massachusetts -- and we at Episcopal City Mission (ECM), a community of Episcopalians in the Diocese of Massachusetts committed to justice, believe that access to decent, affordable housing is a basic human right. What's more, the opportunity for these individuals and families to live in safe, sanitary and decent housing cannot be determined by the forces of the marketplace alone. It is the role of government at the federal, state and local levels, as well as churches and other private sector institutions to help secure this right for all of those in need.

Fortunately, Massachusetts voters did the right thing and kept the affordable housing law; however, the law by itself doesn't end homelessness. Annually, more than 15,000 people – individuals, families and children – are homeless in Massachusetts and more than 670,000 people are homeless across the country. With the difficult economy and high unemployment rates, these numbers continue to escalate.

ECM has built a network of hundreds of advocates in Episcopal churches and community organizations to affect public policy. To that end, ECM is also republishing our 1980s policy paper, "Housing: A Basic Human Right," because we know that at the foundation of our faith is the Biblical tradition that declares that God is a God of justice whose special concern is for those who are the victims of injustice, neglect, discrimination and deprivation. To follow these teachings, we need to share God's concerns and engage in action to correct the wrong doing being done to our neighbors. To ignore the plight of our brothers and sisters who, because of lack of income or racial discrimination, live in unfit housing is to fail to participate in the life and mission of God in the world. To see that the hungry are fed, the naked clothed, and the homeless are given shelter has long been recognized as the heart of the moral expression of our faith.

For over 100 years, ECM has been committed to supporting efforts to build and provide access to affordable housing for low-income people and families in Massachusetts. Some examples include:

• building The Morville House to provide affordable apartments for 225 seniors in Boston;

• creating a Housing Seed Loan Program to provide low-rate or interest-free loans to cover start-up costs for the construction of new housing units or the rehabilitation of existing housing for the elderly, the poor and the handicapped, resulting in 4,600 units;

• launching an Affordable Housing Program to assist parishes within the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts in applying for funds to help them evaluate existing land or buildings on their property and how they might utilize assets to create new housing options within their community;

• and finally, for more than 30 years, ECM's Burgess Urban Fund has awarded grants totaling in excess of $4 million to community organizers and parishes in eastern Massachusetts that seek to develop housing for low-income individuals and families, organize public housing tenants fighting for their rights, advocate for the creation of affordable housing in Massachusetts and maintain fair laws to assure access to these units.

The activities of Episcopal City Mission have been of significant importance, not only because of the tangible results they have accomplished, but also because they have demonstrated what can happen when church agencies, government programs and citizens' organizations act in concert to address the housing needs of the people.

Our faith teaches that religious commitment is expressed through commitment to our neighbors. It is time for Episcopalians across the country to rise up and act justly toward our neighbors.

-- Ruy O. Costa is the executive director Episcopal City Mission in Boston, Massachusetts.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Success! Victory for Affordable Housing

Thank you to all of the ECM supporters, friends, and partners who voted NO on Question 2 ! This was an important win for affordable housing in Massachusetts.

With your help, 58% of voters chose to keep Chapter 40B, Massachusetts' Affordable Housing Law on the books. The percentage of voters (opposition was 42%) was the largest margin of any ballot campaign. Over 1.2 million voters and 80% of cities and towns affirmed their support for protecting the affordable housing law for seniors and working families in urban, suburban, and rural communities all across the state. If you'd like to see how your town voted, click here.

Episcopal City Mission is committed to continuing to build, advocate for and support the tenants of affordable housing. Please visit ECM's website to read our recently released paper: Housing: A Basic Human Right.

Please joins us in celebrating this important moment for working families, the elderly and other low income people in Massachusetts.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bishop Shaw Urges us to Vote No on Question 2

Christian, Jewish, and Muslim clergy gathered today at Trinity Church in Copley Square to urge residents to vote No on Question 2, which would repeal the state's affordable housing law.

They said the effort to overturn the law, known as Chapter 40B, would make it harder to build housing for seniors and working families.

They released a petition with more than 200 names of area clergy who are against the ballot question.

Ellen Feingold, the treasurer of the Campaign to Protect Affordable Housing Law, said there is a long list of seniors on a waiting list for affordable housing. Some have waited for six years, she said.

"Imagine telling an 80-year-old who says she needs affordable housing that she may have to wait as much as six years, " Feingold said. "It is unconscionable."

For more visit: www.protectafforablehousing.org


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dream Act up for a Vote!

As you well know, ECM's Burgess Urban Fund (BUF) awards grants every year to non-profit organizations working to address issues of social injustice in our communities. BUF focuses its' efforts on issues around affordable housing, access to employment, and immigration.

One of this year's grantees, the Student Immigrant Movement, has been hard at work raising awareness of S. 729, the Development, Relief, and Education for Minors (DREAM) Act. The Dream Act will create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people who came to this country under the age of 16.

It has come to ECM's attention that the Dream Act has been attached to the National Defense Authorization Act which will likely be voted on next week. Massachusetts' delegation of Representatives and Senator Kerry are all co-sponsors of the act. Senator Brown has yet to sign on. We urge you to make a call or send an email and ask Senator Brown to support for this legislation.

To learn more about the Act and how to contact Senator Brown visit SIM's website.


Call Sen Brown's office toll free: 1-888-259-8432. You will have to listen to an extended message from Sen Brown's office, but you will be able to leave a message.

Here is a suggested text for your call:

Hi, my name is _ _ _ _ and I am a member of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a resident from _ _ _ _ _ _ (city you're from). I would like to urge Senator Brown to support the DREAM Act. It is good legislation that will help thousands of young men and women contribute to the economy and to the fabric of our nation. These undocumented youth are strong and courageous, let's give them the opportunity to learn in our academic institutions and serve in our armed forces. This will give them the skills to needed to attain a solid job and a home. This is how we can build a just society. I ask that Senator Brown take a stance in favor of the DREAM Act.

Thank you!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Presiding Bishop Releases Statement on Immigration

In Episcopal New Service Weekly bulletin inserts for Sept. 5, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori calls on Episcopalians to join in the current debate on immigration. With a reminder of the many biblical admonitions to welcome the stranger, Jefferts Schori also acknowledges the complexity of the issue. "We all agree that American immigration law is broken," she writes. "Just and appropriate responses can be shaped in public conversations in which people of faith do and must have a voice."

The full text of the inserts is below. Inserts may be downloaded here.

We must join immigration dialogue

by Katharine Jefferts Schori

Most Episcopalians are aware of, and probably invested in, the current public debates about immigration in the United States. The 15 other nations represented in the Episcopal Church also are engaged in similar debates and struggles over the same issues of national security, economic and political refugees and the relative priorities of citizens and immigrants.

Our biblical tradition speaks loudly and prophetically about God's intent for a healed society in which distinctions based on nationality or ethnicity are transcended. The Hebrew Bible speaks more often (38 times) and more vociferously about welcome for the alien and the sojourner (the non-Jew who resides in or travels through Israel) than any other topic of identity: "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt … do not oppress the aliens in your midst" (Deuteronomy 24:18-22).

The great prophetic vision of Zion is as a light to the nations, where all will worship God and do justice together (Isaiah 42:6-7; Isaiah 60:3), where people from every language, family and nation gather before the throne of God to build a city of peace and justice (Revelation 5:9- 10; 21:22-26). That overarching dream of differing peoples gathered to worship and build a just society also underlies the founding vision of the United States. Those American forebears claimed that vision of a "city built on a hill" to which the nations shall stream.

The Episcopal Church long has claimed a particular place in seeking to build those divine visions into reality through engagement with our political, economic and social structures – and not only in the United States. That engagement with society is a central aspect of the Episcopal Church's mission in every part of the world in which it exists – those like Honduras and Haiti, which still are part of this church, and those like Liberia and the Philippines, now in other provinces of the Anglican Communion. We believe that our faith has something essential to do with how we engage major social issues, and immigration is a central one at present.

Attitudes and political approaches to migration in the United States and across the globe have changed in the last decade both because of increased fears about terrorism and national security and because of the ongoing economic crisis. Both realities have engendered responses that turn inward to focus on personal security, both physical and economic. Those fears are powerful forces, and they are understandable, even if they are not always wholly rational. Uncontrolled migration across the U.S. - Mexico border, for instance, actually has decreased by two-thirds over the last decade, and the total number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has declined about 10 percent. Violent crime in the border states has decreased significantly over the same time period. Yet most American citizens still believe that more people are coming and that violence continues to increase. Those fears, whether substantiated by declining employment opportunities or baseless prejudice, are contributing to increased tribalism across the globe.

Tribalism is the belief that our group is the only "good" one and that "we" must protect ourselves from all "others" who are really out to destroy us. That attitude is fundamentally un-Christian, for it denies that the "other" really bears the image of God.

At the same time, that kind of attitude has emerged repeatedly in the United States and elsewhere as the local people are threatened by changes represented by newly arriving groups.

Immigrants to the United States from Ireland, Spain, the Basque country, Italy, Poland and many other places have experienced that kind of xenophobic response in recent centuries. That sort of response is not terribly far from racism, which forced-immigrants from Africa and their descendants continue to experience, and which in an ironic reversal continues to shape Anglo responses to Native Americans.

Human beings have packed up and moved for millennia, in search of food, shelter, safety, better climate, economic opportunity and freedom. The presenting issue in the United States centers on American labor needs and economic need in Mexico and other Latin American countries. The American economic system depends on labor that is not being provided by citizens. Mexican citizens seek to fill that labor need in order to answer their economic need. We currently do not have legal structures that permit an adequate and appropriate flow of labor to satisfy those mutual needs.

Americans benefit from the current system, which encourages "illegal" migration, primarily in the form of low-cost food. Americans also benefit from a larger international system that privileges domestic crop production through subsidies and penalizes food production in other nations through import duties. We cannot separate the immigration issue from the economic systems in which we all participate and from which only some profit.

We all agree that American immigration law is broken. Just and appropriate responses can be shaped in public conversations in which people of faith do and must have a voice. As you engage in that civic discourse, I would encourage you to learn more about the underlying issues and then gather with others in your congregation and in the larger community to reflect on a number of questions:

--What values do I as a Christian hold about the dignity of every human person?
--Should immigrants be treated differently from citizens and, if so, how and why?
--What values do I believe this nation should hold up as central?
--What are my own fears in the midst of this current debate?
--What is my prayer?

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori is presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Compassion wins out - The Boston Globe

CORI Reform was signed into law this weekend, thanks to the hard work of many organizations and individuals who have dedicated an incredible amount of time and energy to this cause.

ECM has been supporting CORI Reform for many years. Specifically, through the Burgess Urban Fund, we have given grants to the Union of Minority Neighborhoods, Boston Workers Alliance and EPOCA - Ex-prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement.

Compassion wins out - The Boston Globe

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Diomass Intern Program highlighted on The Alban Institiute's Blog...

An interesting article about reaching out to young adults and evangelism. Great to see the Diocese of Massachusetts Intern program be highlighted as a model for social justice and reaching out to young adults!

Evangelism and the Under-Thirty Crowd
by Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook

A November 2009 issue of The Week featured a story, "Losing our Religion," that focused on the rapidly growing numbers of the religiously unaffiliated in the United States, the so called Nones, and asked if organized religion is fading. Younger than the general population, many Nones believe in God yet are skeptical about organized religion. The article quotes recent statistics suggesting that if this trend continues, cohorts of nonreligious young people will replace older religious people and account for one-quarter of the American population. Another recent article in USA Today concluded that young adults born in the 1980s and 1990s, approximately 72 million people, want to make an impact and are socially-conscious yet do not relate to traditional institutional structures. A decreasing number of these young adults view churches as places to make a difference or to develop their leadership skills.

The fact that nearly every major denomination is aging and losing members has been a concern for the last thirty years, yet institutional efforts to reverse these trends and to capture the religious imagination of young adults have been limited. Mainline denominations, historically and culturally self-conscious about evangelism, are further challenged to proclaim the good news in today's religiously pluralistic nation and world. What then is the role of evangelism with young adults today? What are some of the ways that the Christian church can better respond to the spiritual questions of young adults in a religiously pluralistic age? How might congregations better respond to the gifts and skills young adults have to offer?

"One of the reasons many churches don't do evangelism well is that their motivation is self-serving," says Tom Brackett, church planting specialist for the Episcopal Church. Brackett believes that a focus on evangelism primarily as a church growth strategy is counterproductive, especially with young adults, and at a time when the world is longing for evidence that God is with us. A more positive approach to evangelism for many, he suggests, lies "in pointing out the ways that God is already active, transforming lives, and connecting us to each other."

One judicatory that is intentionally reaching out to young adults is the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. In 2008, the diocese initiated the Relational Evangelism Pilot Project, a ministry designed to find out what young adults ages 18 to 30 value deeply, how they experience their faith journeys, and their perspectives on faith, spirituality, and the church. The project defines relational evangelism as "a life-long spiritual practice that is the ministry of all to recognize the power of God in Christ to transform our lives and communities, and then being willing to share those stories of God's grace in others." The project came about as a result of multiple gatherings around the Boston area of young adult clergy and others who were already engaged in young adult ministry. Arrington Chambliss, the director of the project, comes to it with a long history of engagement with young people through faith-based and community organizations. Interested in young adult ministry that "truly listens first," Chambliss says that the Relational Evangelism Pilot Project is about engagement, not conversion. "It is God who does the converting," she says, "relational evangelism is about us having a deep enough relationship that others want to join with us."

For the rest of the article click here

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Obama Administration Releases National Plan to End Homelessness

It is so exciting to see our President and his Administration taking on a leadership role in ending homelessness in this country.

Yesterday, the lead Cabinet secretaries from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) - from the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Veterans Affairs (VA) - joined Executive Director of the USICH Barbara Poppe to unveil and submit to the President and Congress the nation's first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness. Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes accepted the plan on behalf of President Barack Obama.

"As the most far-reaching and ambitious plan to end homelessness in our history, this plan will both strengthen existing programs and forge new partnerships," said USICH Chair and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "Working together with Congress, state and local officials, faith-based and community organizations, and business and philanthropic leaders across our country, we will harness public and private resources to build on the innovations that have been demonstrated at the local level nationwide. No one should be without a safe, stable place to call home and today we unveil a plan that will put our nation on the path toward ending all types of homelessness."

The Full Report titled, "Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness" is available at: www.usich.gov

Thursday, June 17, 2010

ECM's Annual Meeting a Success!

'Keep it up,' Khazei tells Episcopal City Mission
ECM Annual Meeting
PHOTO: Tracy J. Sukraw
Keynoter Alan Khazei (center) congratulated members of the diocesan young adult intern programs and their directors for their commitment to community service.
By Tracy Sukraw,
Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

Episcopal City Mission (ECM) supporters heard a call to "big citizenship" from Alan Khazei and celebrated the past year's social justice work, including CORI reform and British Petroleum disinvestment, during the organization's annual meeting on June 8.

The dinner event at Boston University showcases programs and organizations funded through ECM's grants programs. It also brings together parish delegates and supporters from across the diocese to learn about its work. This year about 230 people attended.

ECM's annual social justice awards went to Frank Butler of Trinity Church in Topsfield; the Rev. Deborah Little Wyman, founder of Ecclesia Ministries and Common Cathedral in Boston; Anne Shumway of St. James's Church in Cambridge; and Diane Casey Lee of the Cape Cod Council of Churches.

Click Here for Full Article

Friday, May 14, 2010

New Data on Family Homelessness in Massachusetts

Last week Episcopal City Mission hosted The Paul and Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation's luncheon to announce the release of "Ending Family Homelessness in Massachusetts," the result of recently commissioned research and strategic thinking from nationally-recognized expert, Dr. Dennis Culhane. ECM was proud to be part of this exciting event and to continue to partner with the Fireman Foundation in their campaign to end family homelessness in Massachusetts.

The report lays out ways in which the state’s Emergency Assistance (EA) program could be reformed to help stretch public resources and serve more families. To view the Executive Summary and full report, "Ending Family Homelessness in Massachusetts," Click Here.

The report states that by encouraging key shifts in thinking and practice, and by implementing principles to guide reform, important family homelessness programs will better support innovative service providers so they can focus on prevention, rapid re-housing, and stabilization.

To learn more about the work to end homelessness visit the following websites:

Massachusetts Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness


One Family, Inc.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Support CORI Reform!!

Rally & Lobby Day
May 6 - 12:00 PM
Massachusetts State House


12:00pm - Rally on the State House Steps

1:00pm - Visit Legislative Offices

2:00pm - Debrief and Next Steps - Room B1

CORI, the state's criminal background check system, keeps residents from accessing jobs and housing. CORI Reform was passed last November by the Senate, but is still awaiting a vote in the House. CORI reform will increase taxpaying residents, reduce joblessness and help reduce crime. Demand CORI reform now!

The Commonwealth CORI Coalition (a statewide coalition of over 110 organizations, dedicated to passing comprehensive CORI reform in 2010) is calling on all supporters of CORI reform to join us at the State House for a Rally and Lobby Day. Speaker DeLeo has made commitments to bring CORI to a vote this session. Now that the House is done with the budget, we have a window of opportunity to pass CORI reform in May.

If you can't attend please CALL your Representative THIS WEEK to support CORI Reform

To find who your Rep is, go to www.wheredoivotema.com or call 1-800-462-VOTE (8683) and enter your address.


  • Step 1: Call the State House operator at 617-722-2000 and ask to be connected to your Representative
  • Step 2: Ask to leave a message for your Representative
  • Step 3: "Hello, my name is _________. I'm a resident in your district. My address is ________. I'm calling to ask Representative _________ to help pass CORI reform. I would like Representative _________ to write a letter or talk to Speaker DeLeo to ensure that CORI reform receives a vote in the month of May."
  • Step 4: Thank the aide for their time. Email info@bostonworkersalliance.org to let them know you called. Spread the word to your friends and family!

Thank you for helping to advance CORI reform

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

2010 Census March to the Mailbox Volunteers Needed!

Episcopal City Mission has partnered with over 20 other funders to support the Massachusetts Census Equity Fund. This collaborative has awarded grants to organizations across Massachusetts to provide financial support and educational resources to nonprofits throughout the state to more accurately count under-served communities in the 2010 Census, and to ensure a transparent, fair and non-discriminatory state redistricting process.

All of these organizations are hard at work reaching out to people in their communities and engaging folks in the census process. But now we need your help to increase our response rate and reach even more people!

On Saturday, April 10, the National Census Partnership Program (NCPP) is aiming to have thousands of volunteers actively encouraging the public to mail back their 2010 Census questionnaire. These activities can include parades, marches, walks, rallies and motorcades — in approximately 6,000 low-responding census tract areas in communities across the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. We’d like your help getting out volunteers for these March to the Mailbox activities.

During this neighborhood blitz, volunteers will converge on streets and high traffic zones to encourage residents to March to the Mailbox and mail back their 2010 Census forms. Local leaders will stand side by side with their community to elevate the message that it is not too late to mail back the census form.

NCPP has already pre-identified low-responding census tracts to help focus these activities, and will continue to tailor activities using real-time data on actual census participation. Volunteers may be supplied by the Local Census Office with 2010 Census hats, t-shirts, signs, noisemakers, and/or other materials to help make these events very visible in these low-responding, hard-to-count communities.

For additional information and learn how you can help visit the March to the Mailbox partner toolkit at <http://2010.census.gov/partners/toolkits/toolkits-m2m.php>

Thank you - -

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

CORI Reform - We need your help!

Dear Friends,

This is a note from one of our Burgess Urban Fund Grantees. Please take a moment to read and take action!

Nearly 1.5 million Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) reports are issued each year, these reports are notoriously flawed and difficult to interpret. CORIs display all court arraignments--regardless of the eventual outcome of the case--and in effect, turn all criminal histories into "life sentences". These misleading reports can keep a Massachusetts citizen securing employment, housing, loans, insurance, and entrance to college.

Just 5 minutes of your day could help thousands of men and women attain opportunities for a stable life. Please take a moment to make a call



Dear Friends,

Last fall the Senate passed the CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) reform bill by a vote of 28-12. Now, we have just a few weeks to get it through the House of Representatives, and onto Governor Patrick's desk! Speaker DeLeo says he wants to do this soon, but time is running out.

PLEASE call your State Representative TODAY and ask her or him to tell Speaker DeLeo that s/he would like to vote on the CORI Reform bill H.3523 right away!

To find out who your Rep. is, go to www.wheredoIvotema.com and type in your address.

Your Rep's name will be next to where it says: "REP IN GENERAL COURT".
Click on the Rep's name, and it will take you to a page with her or his phone number.

Here is a script to help you make your call:
(Chances are you will speak to an aide not the Representative)

Hello Representative .…..’s office.

I live your name and address and I am calling to ask my Representative to ask Speaker DeLeo to bring up H.3523, the CORI Reform Bill for a vote as soon as possible.

Thank you.

If we don't do it now, the moment will pass, and we're looking at a very long road ahead. Please help today!!

For questions please call:
Steve O'Neill
Ex-prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement
(508) 410-7676

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Upcoming Events

How Faith Communities Can Help End Homelessness: A New Vision

Sunday, February 28, 2010, 3:00-5:00 PM

First Parish in Concord, 20 Lexington Rd., Concord

Keynote Speaker: The Rev. Liz Walker

Guest Speakers:

Liz Curtis, Executive Director, Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness

Mary Doyle, Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership

State Legislators

Sponsors: Advocacy Network to End Family Homelessness and Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries.

Co-sponsors: Episcopal City Mission and UU Mass Action Network

To learn more visit: www.coopmet.org

Courage to Lead: a Retreat Day for People Engaged in Urban Ministry

Friday, April 30, 2010

Boston Nature Center, Mattapan, MA

Courage and Renewal Northeast

Is your work an expression of your deepest value that touches your soul that requires you to bring all of yourself to it?

Are you seeking space and time to access more of your inner resources, so you can be more present to the challenges of those to whom you minister or serve?

Do you feel compelled to step back and reflect, in order to move forward in your work with greater clarity?

Do these difficult times require you to be more present and attentive to the deepest values of your faith, your ministry, or your social justice work?

Where: Boston Nature Center in Mattapan, MA

Cost: $60, which includes continental breakfast, delicious lunch, and all materials.

Scholarships are available.

To learn more: Contact Sharlene Cochrane at 617-349-8477 cochrane@lesley.edu or

Donna Bivens, donnabivens@gmail.com.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

January Flowers Bloom In Dorchester

The following is a posting written by Kelsey Rice Bogdan, one of the Relational Evangelist interns from the Life Together: DIOMASS Intern Program, which ECM collaborates with and sponsors. Kelsey’s internship is with Trinity Church, Boston.

The business of planting seeds sometimes seems like a lot of work with very little to show for it. In the Relational Evangelism Pilot Project, we spend a lot of our time planting seeds in coffee dates, church services, volunteer fairs… anywhere where we can learn a little bit about others’ dreams for the world and inspire them with God’s dream. But as this fall wore on, I became impatient to see those seeds grow into full-blown flowers. We listened a lot, we talked a lot, but I longed for the time when we would see more fully how God is bringing about justice through our fledgling campaign.

Well, I can now say that I see some flowers blooming. The Hope in Action Leadership and Organizing Training, January 8-10 at Epiphany School in Dorchester, brought together more than 70 people from all over Boston and Cambridge to develop skills that will empower us to be agents of change in the community. A major part of that training was learning the practice of public narrative, a form of storytelling intended to inspire others to action. The library at Epiphany School was abuzz all weekend with clusters of people huddled together, listening intently to one another weave stories of hope and possibility based on their own experience. Some told humorous stories, such as the Hope in Action site event that seemed beset by every catastrophe imaginable only to create a powerful and meaningful action in the end. Others shared stories of courage, such as the woman who stood up to a group of men for verbally abusing a young gay man on a Boston street. And some were stories of pain and loss translated into work for justice. All these individual stories wove together to create the story of Hope in Action—one in which we speak with a collective voice to say that we have the power to act, and we will use it.

But why do we tell our stories? How do we presume to think that a roomful of people in Dorchester, coming up with stories about their experiences, is supposed to make any difference in the world whatsoever? What I discovered this weekend was that every time someone gets up to tell her story, she claims an agency she didn’t have before. One of the most powerful moments of the training for me was on the last day, when one young woman got up and told that room of 70+ people what it was like to find yourself homeless. It wasn’t just the story that drew me in, either—what moved me so deeply was the power the speaker claimed through storytelling. In the very act of talking about such a devastating experience, this woman refused to be the silent, downcast figure we so often associate with homelessness. She refused to allow others to define her, to talk about her as a statistic or an abstract problem. She challenged us to understand her experience in the context of her essential personhood, as a beloved child of God. And she invited us to be transformed with her in the end. After getting back on her feet, this young woman now works at a homeless shelter. She provides others with the generosity and respect so often denied to her in her own experiences. Those of us who heard her story are now also called to offer respect to the homeless we meet because of her narrative. And that is the beginning of power, for her and for us.

As I listened to so many stories this weekend, I realized that I was seeing the blooming of so many seeds we had planted in the fall—seeds of hope, seeds of empowerment, seeds of God’s dream for our world. It happened every time someone shared, saying in essence, “Yes, I am important! I am beloved! I am going to make a difference!” That was worth the work this fall. And it is only the beginning.

To learn more about the Life Together: The DIOMASS Intern program please visit: www.diomassintern.org

Save the Date: Annual Meeting June 7, 2011

Keynote speaker The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop the Episcopal Church

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