F.A.I.T.H. Fighting Against Injustice Toward Harmony, a community- wide group populated by members of 34 congregations in Volusia County, that focuses on identifying systemic social problems, determining potential means for changing the system to solve them, and obtaining commitments from responsible public sources to bring about the necessary change.
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Some of FAITH's Successful Endeavors
Each year FAITH identifies 3-4 issues to focus on and suggests holding "House Meetings" to identify what those 3-4 issues are.
FAITH Action Assembly
Fighting Against Injustice Towards Harmony (FAITH)
FAITH runs on an annual cycle with four large group meetings each year:
The annual cycle of determining which social justice issue in Volusia County to pursue begins with members of each congregation gathering in “house meetings,” i.e. small groups. In House Meetings, members of a congregation describe and discuss instances in which they or someone they know, has encountered social injustice. This allows members to become aware of what social justice issues are affecting congregation members and/or the larger community.
After discussing what issues are most affecting them and/or the larger community, members are asked to consider six categories of social injustice and determine which category they would most like FAITH to address. Categories that have been considered in the past include:
The results of these meetings are reported to FAITH and are part of the input to the Annual Community Problems Assembly.
At the Community Problems Assembly members of all FAITH congregations gather to consider which category is most closely related to the problem areas identified in the “house meetings.” Members of FAITH congregations are then asked to vote on one of the categories. In 2013 the category selected was crime and drugs. A research committee is then formed of interested volunteers.
The research committee identifies people from Volusia County who are knowledgeable about the problem or area of concern and have the power to change relevant policies, practices, or procedures (decision makers). For this year’s Crime and Drugs issue, the decision makers included judges, the Sheriff, the State Attorney, the Chiefs of Police of several cities, city and county council members, Department of Juvenile Justice officials, and the County Superintendent of Schools. The schools were included since their code of conducts affects how and when juveniles are referred to law enforcement.
The research committee meets with all the officials responsible for an issue and all the stakeholders, e.g. the PTA, in order to gather all possibly relevant information. Ideally, the research will point to a particular aspect of that year’s issue, e.g. Crime and Drugs in 2013-2014 that promises to have a significant effect on the the issue and is achievable, e.g. increase diversion programs for youth who do not require arrest. During this process the committee identifies public officials and stakeholders who are knowledgeable about the problem and can implement or help implement the changes required . These officials and stakeholders are asked about the problems from their point of view and obstacles to solving these problems. Furthermore, they are asked for their suggestions on how best to solve the problem and for the names of other knowledgeable officials and/or stakeholders who might be helpful. Usually, several face-to-face meeting of this type with each official are required.
The next large group meeting is The Rally. After the research team has conducted several months of meeting, review, and discussion, the research team and other FAITH leaders present the results of their research and reports at the Rally. At the Rally leaders and members from every FAITH congregation learn how we have decided to address the issue at the upcoming Action Assembly. Usually The Rally takes place just a few weeks before the Action Assembly.
The biggest meeting of the year is the Action Assembly. Every member congregation is asked to have as many of their members attend as attend their average worship service. It is at this assembly that each of the attending public officials is asked to state before the Assembly whether or not they support the changes requested by FAITH.
Usually, all or most of the public officials have themselves suggested and/or contributed to the particular solution being requested by FAITH. Also, well before the Action Assembly each of the public officials will have received printed copies of the questions they will be asked at the Assembly.
The final meeting of the year is the Celebration. Members of all FAITH congregations are asked to attend in order to celebrate the commitments we have won. The fund drive for the next year is also launched at this meeting.