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The Religious Leaders Forum of Metropolitan Detroit gathered last week to announce that they would mobilize the faith community to address the crucial unmet needs underlying violence in our region.
As they spoke, the message was clear - violence is the product of despair, frustration, anger, the inability to create a meaningful and satisfying life. It is as much a social issue as a criminal justice issue, caused by failures to provide education, public transportation, social services, mental health care, recreation, job training, and jobs.
The solution, according to Bishop Vann, of Second Ebenezer Church, is to “amalgamate our efforts, build a nexus of ongoing programs, and make the community aware that houses of worship are resources.”
The Religious Leaders Forum drafted a statement, “Building Peace Together: A Call to Prayer and Action,” and was joined by Deputy Mayor Isaiah McKinnon, and Barbara McQuade, US Attorney for the Southeast District of Michigan, in announcing the statement to the press.
Speaking at the event, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron addressed the need for the faith community to commit to action. "Our creator has established a plan for our flourishing, and that plan includes that we should respect one another, and that, in all ages, we become agents of peace. This is in great part why we as members who lead our faith communities feel that it is so important for us to be here and to make this statement. Certainly programs for a year or two years are very important, but most important is the continuation, decade after decade, to raise up the next generation to be respectful of God’s will and to find our peace in doing God’s will and in caring for one another"
The event was hosted by Second Ebenezer church, where prayers and reflections were offered by Bishop Edgar Vann, II of Second Ebenezer Church, Rev. Lawrence Glass, President of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity, Rabbi Harold Loss of Temple Israel, President David Olsen, Stake Presidency, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit, Barbara L. McQuade, and Isaiah McKinnon, with the closing prayer offered by Rev. Jim Holley of The Historic Little Rock Baptist Church.
“When there is violence against anyone, there is violence against everyone,” said Barbara McQuade, who spoke of the need to combat a culture of violence, and create a sense of hope in our youth in order to prevent violence, and its high costs to the community. “Even better than prosecuting criminals or locking them up is preventing crime in the first place. Because when you prevent a crime, no one has to be a victim of crime. No one’s dead, no one’s assaulted. No one feels that pain. And when you prevent a crime from occurring, you don’t waste another life by locking it up at the expense of $30,000 a year to incarcerate someone. And don’t forget, when crime occurs, it’s not just the life of the victim that is torn apart, but the lives of the families of the criminal that are torn apart. They lose a loved one too, and the expense of all the contributions that those both of those people could have provided to our society is a great expense.”
IFLC President Robert Bruttell summarized the religious leaders’ call for efforts to address the causes of violence. “The rest of the community needs to realize that it’s an issue of resources, and the scale of the resources that are brought to bear needs to meet the scale of the need. If we want to thrive in the 21st century, we are going to need all our citizens to have opportunities and be able to contribute to the well-being of the community.”
Building Community Requires Building Peace Together: A Statement of the Religious Leaders Forum
We the members of the Religious Leaders Forum have come together to say in one clear, moral voice that the entire region, which collectively our faiths represent, must join with one another to build a community of peace and compassion.
Hate and violence not only harm particular lives but they are destructive of the bonds of good will that hold our community together. They undermine the hope and faith necessary to build community.
We are all in this together. And so we say that it is the responsibility of all of us to work together, in fact to redouble our efforts, to strengthen the bonds of friendship and to meet the challenges hand-in-hand. We call on all people in our region to demonstrate our love for one another, to stem the violence in its many forms, so that metropolitan Detroit will thrive and be known far and wide as a region remarkable for its exceptional peace and goodwill toward all.
We ask all the people in our community, not only to raise their voices in prayer, but to also do the hard work that building community and living in peace together demands.
Rt. Rev. Wendell Gibbs, Jr - Bishop Episcopal Diocese of Michigan
Bishop Edgar Vann - Second Ebenezer Church
Most Reverend Allen Vigneron - Archbishop, Archdiocese of Detroit
Rabbi Harold Loss - Temple Israel
Rev. CL Glass, Pastor Lawrence Glass, President of the Council of Baptist Pastors Detroit and Vicinity, El Bethel Baptist Church
Rev. Deedee Coleman - First VP Council Baptist Pastors, Russell Street Baptist
Imam Steve Elturk, Co-chair of Imams Council MMCC, president IONA
Reverend Roger Mohr, Unitarian Universalist and Humanist, First Unitarian-Universalist Church of Detroit
Bishop Donald Kreiss, Bishop Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. George Shalhoub, St. Mary’s Antiochan Basilica
Rev. Allen Timm, Executive Presbyter, Presbyterian Church USA
Rev. James Holley, Historic Little Rock Baptist Church
Imam Sayed Hassan Qazwini, Islamic Center of America
President Theodore Parsons, Bloomfield Hills Stake, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Rabbi Michael Moskowitz, Immediate Past President Michigan Board of Rabbis, Congregation Shir Shalom
Rev Dr. Dan Krichbaum, Methodist, President Citizens Research Council