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Bread Organizers Create a Human Circle of Protection in New York
A group of activists, community leaders, and organizations directors in New York gathered in an interfaith human circle to pray that the Super Committee does not cut programs for poor and hungry people. Photo credit: John Gonzalez
Yesterday, one week before the Super Committee makes their recommendation on federal budget cuts to Congress, a group of New Yorkers gathered at noon to pray for their work and for all of Congress to form a circle of protection around the programs that serve the most vulnerable in our world. Alongside communities across the nation, we formed an interfaith human circle at a community agency that knows the reality of budget cuts, unemployment, and hunger all too well: Friendly Hands Ministries.
As the executive director of Friendly Hands, Rev. Domingo Vasquez, shared the history and future of their work in New York, we heard an all-too-common refrain from him: “Things are worse today than I have ever seen.”
In response to this reality and in response to actively waiting for the Super Committee’s recommendations, we prayed. It was a calling forth that both renewed my spirit and sense of urgency. Here is our prayer, excerpted from the prayers of Rev. Emma Jordan Simpson, Chaplain Nurah-Rosalie Amat’ullah D.Min., Andrew Rosenthal, M.Div. and MSW, and Rev. Dr. James Forbes):
We stand here today, wrapping our arms and our prayers around Friendly Hands Ministries here in East Harlem and around communities across our country – we are asking You to speak loudly to the Super Committee; speak to us all.
Divine Spirit, as we speak our truth clearly and loudly, may we not become complicit in or with the transactional policies that render those we serve faceless, voiceless and nameless. Remind us that the current policies could likely have us join the people we currently seek to serve because we too will find ourselves not able to meet our basic needs.
Hashem watch over all people without a voice, all people who are forgotten and all people ready to be empowered. El Shaddai, Shakhinah Eloheinu, we atone for our ignorance, our apathy, and our vanity. Bring us into an awareness of the strangers in our midst. Hashem grant us the strength to change our government, our policies, our ways and ourselves. Keep burning in our hearts the love of righteousness, truth, and justice. Build within us the dream of what could be in the midst of what is yet to come. O God, help us to recover our hope. Help us to recover our courage. Help us to recover our discipline. Help us to recover our ability to work together. Help us to recover our values. Help us to recover our faith in Thee. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
With the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Bread for the World, the Poverty Initiative, Sojourners, and faith leaders, we were sent out with an ever renewed sense of call: now more than ever we need a circle of protection for the “least of these.”
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