Our diverse traditions call us to help those in need among us, and to practice the golden rule.
That underlying spirit underscores the economic development work of Bishop Charles E. Blake, Presiding Bishop of Church of God in Christ, Inc (COGIC) and Dr. Lula Ballton, the Director of Community and Economic Development of COGIC in the South Los Angeles community.
As a commitment to those principles, they conducted the first annual Christian Community Development Symposium at the University of Southern California Galen Center in Los Angeles, California where I served as one of the panelists.
Providing an overview of the work of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, I also specifically discussed the Affordable Care Act which expands access to care, ends abuses of insurers, and makes health care more affordable for individuals and families. I explained that there is a critical connection to human services and to economic development. Both pieces contribute to the health and wellness of the community.
The theme of the symposium was “Creating and Sustaining the Beloved Community.” Remarking on that vision, Dr. Ballton said, “Success is measured, not in the dollars you've generated, but in community transformations.” Over 300 individuals participated in the event and received information from a range of faith-based and community experts on community development. For Bishop Blake, Pastor of West Angeles Church, the symposium “represents an opportunity to have a forum and a method for educating church leadership on effective community development practices.”
While I was in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to view those best practices first hand. I toured the West Angeles Community Development Corporation and housing facility for senior citizens. They stand as solid reminders on how to create and sustain “the beloved community.”
Acacia Bamberg Salatti is the Deputy Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (The Partnership Center) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.