by Doug Greco, Lead Organizer of Central TX Interfaith
As stopping the spread of COVID-19 is reorganizing our personal and public lives, it is clear that the work of Central Texas Interfaith needs to be about addressing one issue: how to help our families, our civic and religious institutions, and our communities deal with the COVID-19 crisis. This disruption in our lives parallels the impact of an event like 9/11 or what cities deal with during natural disasters like hurricanes and floods and will require we change some assumptions about what the work of CTI is.
Following the lead of our IAF sister organization in Houston and Louisiana after Katrina, Harvey, and subsequent floods, we need to look for opportunities to support direct relief for families in our institutions and communities. This means first assessing the urgent basic needs of shelter, food, income, safety, and health, and being supportive of efforts to address them. To this end, we should exercise the skills and practices we learn in organizing: checking-in with families in our congregations and other organizations, listening for stories of how they are impacted, and being intentional about understanding the interests of those around us.
Out of an understanding of these basic needs, we need to be a strong voice for policies which protect these families at the local, state, and national levels. As a 10-county regional organization with 45 member congregations, schools, and unions we are uniquely positioned to shape the public response to this crisis. Access to testing and healthcare, nutrition for children and mothers, paid sick leave and unemployment benefits for workers, a statewide halt to evictions and utility cutoffs, and basic income support to most families are among the measures we are pressing for.
TO THIS END, WE WILL BE HOLDING A “VIRTUAL” CENTRAL TEXAS INTERFAITH LEADERS MEETING ON TUESDAY, MARCH 31ST FROM 7:00-8:30PM. This will be an opportunity to share how the COVID-19 situation is impacting you, your civic or religious institution, and your community, and to become part of actions to address it. PLEASE RSVP TO THIS LINK and we will send you the logistics of how to join by video or conference call. Additionally, our Strategy Team, Boards, Clergy, and Action Teams are all meeting by video and teleconferencing over the next week to reorganize CTI’s work to meet this COVID-19 crisis. As we move forward, CTI will begin to provide our ongoing leadership development trainings, civic academies, and house meeting through these platforms.
Our world, and how we order our lives, has changed dramatically. Though many of us are safely hunkered down in our homes, let us keep at the forefront of minds the elderly and most vulnerable, those experiencing homelessness, those who have lost their jobs, and those whose jobs keep us alive while putting themselves at risk, like healthcare, grocery, and other retail and service works. After we ensure our families, friends, and others around us are safe and secure, lets carve out the time to continue to act on the faith that our collective power, will, and imagination are greatest when we keep organizing.
Central Texas Interfaith