United Methodists play key role in Nevadans for the Common GoodArticles, DC Archive Friday, June 1st, 2012
By Rev. Art Gafke
Nevadans for the Common Good came to life with 1,500 voices shouting approval on May 22, 2012. Over 65 faith organizations and non-profits from across southern Nevada overflowed the ballroom on the UNLV campus. The Rev. Camille Penstil of Zion United Methodist Church co-chaired the convention. She announced that “It’s about time to join together to let the wider world know that the faith communities of Nevada are alive.” The Rev. Dennis Hutson of Advent United Methodist summarized to the standing room only crowd the accomplishments of three years of work preparing for the birth of the new organization. Mr. Charles Redmon of University United Methodist Church officially welcomed the many political and civic leaders who were present. The Rev. Art Gafke introduced Robert Hoo as the new leader organizer beginning in July.
All the United Methodist churches in the greater Las Vegas Valley were present, with four using buses to transport 200 members to the event. All together 12 buses from various congregations carried 700 people to the convention. Bishop Minerva Carcaño spoke briefly as did Bishop Joseph Pepe of the Las Vegas Diocese of the Catholic Church and Bishop Stephen Talmade of the Grand Canyon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Bishop Edwards of the Nevada Diocese of the Episcopal Church introduced five people who shared personal stories of challenge.
Nevadans for the Common Good grew from the three-year effort of the Las Vegas Valley Interfaith Sponsoring Committee and the skilled guidance of the Industrial Areas Foundation. Frank Pierson has served as the professional organizer aiding in the process of creating the public, common voice of diverse faith communities. The Desert Southwest Annual Conference with Bishop Carcaño’s encouragement invested the very first money in this effort four years ago to explore the possibility of creating this multi-faith organization. Throughout the process United Methodists have been at the core of the vision.
Already research and action has covered the diverse subjects of child-sex slave trade, the vulnerable elderly, education, neighborhood blight, and immigration. Congregations are encouraged to expand their listening to one another within their membership, hearing the stories of what people face in day-to-day living. Congregations will be trained in building organization for public voice. Relationships across religious, economic, age, and race will be expanded. In this election year congregations will be able to meet with candidates for local, state and federal office before the November election to share concerns and develop relationships into the future.
Nevadans for the Common Good is strictly non-partisan as are the local churches. This coalition of organizations opens a new narrative for Nevada as people of faith join together to sculpt a new culture for this society. It’s about time!
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