FAITH LINKING IN ACTION
Faith Linking in Action (FLIA) is a group of Bangor-area congregations, people of faith and community groups working together to “go upstream” to address the reasons people are falling into and getting stuck in poverty. Our purpose is to engage, coach and support congregations, regardless of religious affiliation, and the members of communities they serve, to work together to address causes of poverty. We educate the broader public and elected officials about our identified issues, and support faith communities to connect work on these issues to their theological context.
The vision of FLIA is:
- . to build a community of justice and dignity in the greater Bangor area
- to find and empower leaders and change agents
- to demonstrate the love and mercy of God
- to encourage transforming change in our neighborhoods
St. Patrick’s was one of the area churches that met in 2012 with this vision. We have helped develop and establish a group of concerned faith and community organizations into action teams to work with our neighbors to live out our mission of finding dignity, justice, and love. FLIA is the only ecumenical social justice group in the Bangor area. It is affiliated with Food AND Medicine.
2018 has been a year of significant changes and growth for FLIA. Our Professional Community Organizer, Martin Chartrand, left in May. After first being given a $40,000 grant from Catholic Campaign for Human Development in July, it was retracted in December. Though both difficult circumstances to address, FLIA has become a stronger and more focused organization. We were very fortunate to have organizer, Dave Jenkins, with us during the summer and early fall to help us create our priorities and envision our future. (Dave’s grandparents were Bill and Marjorie Jenkins, long time St. Pat’s members)
Now FLIA has an active Board which is reinvigorating members and recruiting more member congregations. It is evaluating the membership criteria and keeping the vision of our work in focus. It communicates well with the “teams” working on specific social issues.
The Transportation for All Team continues to make great strides forward to improve the public transportation system in the Bangor Area. They have gained a positive relationship with the Bangor City Council and are included in all decision making regarding the bus system. They are taking part in a new study of public transportation in the entire state and in a study the Bangor City Council is conducting.
The Childcare Team and Jobs Team have joined forces. Much of their work deals with legislation and talking to legislators and agencies.
The Food Access Committee coordinates 11 gardens in the Bangor/Brewer area. Some low-income community housing, The BARN, Brewer Community Garden, First Methodist Church of Bangor, and St. Patrick’s Holyoke Street Neighborhood Garden to form vegetable gardens for residents and to address issues surrounding hunger and access to quality food. This is a joint effort of FAM (Food AND Medicine and FLIA) St. Patrick’s received a $15,000 grant from the Diocese of Maine to help with the gardens and to support other projects sponsored by FLIA.
The Holyoke Street Neighborhood Garden: 10 members of St. Patrick’s and 6 people from the Holyoke Street neighborhood participated in the garden project this year. We built more raised beds. The group met a few times to plan and coordinate the gardening efforts. Jobs were chosen. The garden did not produce well and after soil testing and evaluations it was decided the garden was watered too much. Most worked independently and did not connect with each other. The group decided to try to meet during the winter to plan for better growing year in 2019 and to get to know each other better.
St. Patrick’s was involved with the Solidarity Harvest which provided 1300 Thanksgiving Baskets of fresh produce and a turkey enough to feed 8-10 people. We gave $300 through our Outreach Committee and provided about 100 loaves of pumpkin bread. Some from St. Pat’s also volunteered to help pack the baskets. Solidarity Harvest is a project of Food AND Medicine.
The FLIA board and each Team meet monthly. The entire organization holds quarterly convenings of all the teams with special programs at each. FLIA members participate in various FAM events.
Mary Ann Perry serves on the FLIA board as a representative from St. Patrick’s. She is also one of two FLIA representatives to the Food AND Medicine board and she represents FLIA on the FAM Steering Committee. Deacon Peggy Day is FLIA secretary, Peg Oslon serves on the Jobs/childcare Team, Rev. Lev Sherman is on the Transportation for All Team and represents both St. Patrick’s and St. John’s, Bangor. The Rev. Rick Cross participates in various events and at the quarterly convenings of all the teams. Many St. Patrick’s parishioners participated for specific projects throughout the year. FLIA activities and projects helped St. Patrick’s parishioners live out the mission of being WITH others and not just doing for others as we practiced Living Local: Joining God.
Respectfully submitted, Mary Ann Perry