Faith Linking in Action (FLIA)

Faith Linking in Action

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 root 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.

St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church Community is a founding member of FLIA, established in 2012. St. Pat’s Representatives to FLIA: Rev. Peggy Day, secretary; Mary Ann Perry; Rev. Lev Sherman

2020 Year in Review

Our faith calls us to be Faith Linking in Action–listening and hearing the cries of our brothers and sisters, as we seek: 1. to build a community of justice and dignity in the greater Bangor area 2. to find and empower leaders and change agents; 3. to demonstrate the love and mercy of God; 4. to encourage transforming change in our neighborhoods St. Patrick’s was a part of creating this inter-faith group in 2012.

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 missions 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. This being a big election year, FAM, for the first time decided to endorse certain candidates especially in local elections.

Faith Linking in Action chose not to do this. FLIA’s mission is related to community needs and not political entities. Through its work on public transportation, childcare concerns including access to good jobs, and the Community Gardens project FLIA has become a stronger and more focused organization. The Board of Directors is made up of clergy and lay representatives of all the member congregations. Work continued in all areas via zoom in April.

The Transportation for All Team (TFA) is a group of bus riders, drivers and public transit supporters who are working together to help improve our Community Connector bus system. It has been challenged to remind the Bangor City Council to include TFA in all discussions and decisions regarding public transportation. The group includes those directly impacted by public transportation decisions. Work has begun on a new hub at Pickering Square. The group is working to improve shelter there during this winter. They also are continuing to educate the public about COVID safety measures and schedule changes and challenges during this difficult year. They met the 3rd Thursday of each month from 9-11 at the Peace and Justice Center, 96 Harlow Street, Bangor (across the street from the public library). The meetings continue via zoom. All are welcome. There is a small advisory group that meets earlier in the month.

Food AND Medicine organizer Darcy Cooke is the professional advisor to this group. Contact her at darcy@foodandmedicine.org. The Childcare & Jobs Team examines bills being presented in the Maine State Legislature, lobbies representatives, informs the public, communicates with childcare providers and those seeking affordable childcare to continue to improve access to quality childcare and to streamline regulations. The annual Week of the Young Child event at the Bangor Children’s Museum was cancelled. The team meets the second Tuesday of each month from 6-7:30 at First United Methodist Church, Essex Street, Bangor. The contact person is Roz Fisher osurosalyn1960@gmail.com.

The Food Access Committee has worked to sustain 13 gardens, including a new garden at the Dirigo Apartments in Brewer, teaching people how to build, fertilize, plant, weed, and grow vegetables for their neighborhoods. The gardens’ purpose is to decrease food insecurity, particularly in the neighborhoods of low-income housing and elderly. The gardens at Holyoke Street (ours), The BARN, and Maple Street help to feed the larger community. Committee members support each other during and between meetings and were very active during Solidarity Harvest Sort week. They meet monthly and beginning in April via Zoom trouble-shooting and supporting the gardens. COVID safety procedures in planting, tending, and harvesting activities were reinforced in each meeting. Cooking workshops about pickling squash and making various types of applesauce were held via Zoom with the participants in their own kitchens during the fall. Garden evaluations were completed by members of each garden and returned to the Committee for analysis in December. Everyone is looking forward to seed ordering, planning garden layouts, and beginning to “dig in the soil” of their gardens! The representative from St. Pat’s is Peg Olson ptpeg2014@gmail.com

Holyoke Street Neighborhood Garden, a part of the Food Access Committee, Vision Statement is: The purpose of the Holyoke Street Neighborhood Garden is for neighbors and members of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church to collaborate on a garden to feed those in our neighborhood. It is the intent to work together to increase community participation in building a better future first through access to nutritious food. The garden produced better this year and had more community participation. Even though each gardener had to work alone, regular zoom meetings kept them connected to ensure a coordinated effort. They added a compost bin this year and small raised beds for the squash. The neighbor and St. Pat’s had a tree removed which greatly improved the growing potential. When members were surveyed after harvest, they were all interested in continuing and even one person who wasn’t able to participate thought the garden is wonderful and hopes to participate next year. How about you? Contact maryann_perry@hotmail.com

Though not actually a mission of FLIA, all the congregations participate in the Solidarity Harvest sponsored by Food AND Medicine. FAM provided over 1400 Thanksgiving “baskets” of fresh produce and a gift card for a turkey or other groceries, enough to feed 8-10 people. St. Pat’s distributed 8 baskets. The Solidarity Harvest Committee meets the first Monday of each month (more often in the fall) from 5-6:30 pm right now via zoom. Mary Ann Perry serves on this committee. The entire FLIA organization normally holds quarterly convenings to present more education regarding our efforts, to encourage continued participation and support, to introduce other community concerns, and to continue to work together as people of faith.

This year one convening was held via zoom in September. This was very well received and offered much education and eye-opening opportunities for personal growth. The theme was “Race and its intersection with food insecurity”. Special guest speakers were Angela Okafor and Tania Rousseau Jean-Jacques. There was a break out discussion session and a wrap-up time. FLIA’s 19 members and convening participants learned that doing nothing is not acceptable and we can’t do everything so we have to make choices concerning issues. Remember to identify our interest, what is our honest intention, develop clarity of vision and offer a oneness of purpose.

FLIA continues to work on this mission. Representatives to the FLIA board from St. Pat’s were: Peg Olson, co-chair; Mary Ann Perry, and Rev. Lev Sherman. Respectfully submitted, Mary Ann Perry St. Patrick’s FLIA Coordinator