Action in St. Louis

Posted by: Gordon on 12/9/2014


Zora Neale Hurston said it: You have to go there, to know there. That’s why Gamaliel leaders decided to shift the venue for the annual December leadership gathering that took place last week to Florissant, adjacent to Ferguson in St. Louis County.

“We are here as Gamaliel to let it be known that if we want to see a change in our communities, we must have the brave conversations to confront racism,” Rev. John Welch of Pittsburgh, said during a march and die-in at the county government center.

National and local leaders participated in the action, at which the group called on incoming county executive Steve Stenger to hold a summit for St. Louis County mayors, police chiefs and other law enforcement officials. On the agenda: reforms to the debtor prison system trapping low-income people and people of color in prison for traffic violations, court fees and other minor violations and institute or increase community policing procedures throughout their jurisdiction. Stenger’s transition team met with the group the next morning and committed to work on making these goals a reality in 2015.

Strategic Discernment Process
It was perhaps timely that the main topic of the retreat was a strategic discernment process of how the Gamaliel network will adapt to changing times and circumstances. Staff from the Grassroots Policy Project participated in the conference, leading conversations that looked back to the Civil Rights era and posed the question of what it looks like to think long-term about our work.

About a quarter of the group stuck around for an additional day to carry out more than 60 one-to-one meetings with faith and community leaders on behalf of local affiliates Metropolitan Congregations United and United Congregations of Metro-East.

“Best retreat ever,” was the consensus from several organizers and leaders at the event, who noted that the Grassroots Policy Project’s perspective on developing “God’s economy” dovetails with Gamaliel’s work on regional equity.
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