The St Mary’s Interfaith Council (SMIC) had it’s last meeting on 4 August 2015 at 1600 at the Lexington Park Public Library. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Unitarian Universalist, Latter-Day Saints, Episcopalian, Friends, Baha’i, and Pagan communities.
I hope that you will read all the way through. If there is anything here that you think you or someone you know might be interested in hearing more about please don’t hesitate to contact me by commenting here or emailing me directly. As always, any and all help- even just sharing this blog post- is greatly appreciated.
Ongoing and previous business topics included continuing to support the county’s pilot Snack Pack Program (which distributes non-perishable food items to economically disadvantaged students through the school counselors) through donations and awareness campaigns. Last year’s program was short but successful, involving rolling food drives through participating faith communities and volunteers to transport items to the school. Our interested membership has grown, and we believe we can participate through the entirety of the 2015-2016 school year with our communities’ help. Designated SMIC member will contact the school and get this year’s information for distribution and further action.
Additional ongoing business, a building project at a senior living center is nearing completion with help from participating faith community members.
After review, the 4 goals of the SMIC are- barring revision at a later date- as follows,
1- Promote local interfaith dialogue and ministry to the community where there may be gaps in service
2- Facilitate interfaith gatherings and civic events
3- Support the ideal of religious freedom
4- Coordinate a timely faith-based response to any hate crime in our community
The Tri-County Youth Services Bureau has presented a list of its current needs in the hope that some of our many connected members will be able to assist them in some fashion. The Tri-County Youth Services Bureau (tcysp.org) has an urgent need for the following materials: monetary donations, non-perishable food items, fitness and play toys (jump ropes, basketballs, etc), back to school supplies, arts and crafts supplies. They have a need for volunteers for the following: to lead ‘life skills support group discussions’ (applying for a job, writing a resume, professionalism, gender specific support, youth leadership), to be tutors and/or help form an organized tutoring program as they do not have one at present, to be committed Board members.
St Mary’s County Church of the Ascension is currently the only location in the county serving ‘no cost’ meals on Sundays. They are in desperate need of volunteers to serve food, as this is currently being done by only two dedicated people who could really use a break.
SMIC is registered to assist with Farming For Hunger, a family-friendly volunteer event to harvest food from a dedicated farm for the local Food Bank. We have signed up for Saturday, 19 September 2015 from 0800-1200 hrs. Many hands make light work.
Other discussion focused on the difficulty of finding public, affordable transportation in the area, the sheer scope of the homeless communities, and potential means of more efficient communication between the SMIC and interested groups and individuals.
We are still very much in a formative phase, yet we have already made a difference to a few people. It is my sincere hope that this group effort continues to grow, and continues to help different faith communities communicate to fill the gaps in services in our area. We believe that we can accomplish a lot more by talking to each other and working together than we ever could alone.
The next SMIC meeting will be Tuesday 1 September 2015, beginning at 1700 hrs (this time is new!) at the Lexington Park Public Library. The more the merrier.