A big breakfast table

This morning I attended the Interfaith Justice Table.  It’s a monthly breakfast, convened by Rev. Dan Clark, Ohio Director of Faith in Public Life.    There were about 30 of us – mostly clergy and leaders of various faith driven not for profit advocacy groups.  There were some common commitments that initially drew this group together – especially regarding racial bias and police accountability.  The group has been very supportive of Edith and Sanctuary work.  It has also become a gathering point for various concerns and efforts.  Plus Dan makes a great breakfast casserole.

Today’s meeting had a wide variety of reflections, updates, and invitations.

Imam Horsed Noah of the Abubakar Assidiq Islamic Center reflected on the shooting at the Al-Noor mosque in New Zealand and the persistence of Islamophobia and white supremacy.

Our host, Rev. Eric Brown of Woodland Christian Church talked about his role in the search for an Assistant Safety Director, a new position that will enable Columbus police officers facing discrimination within the police force to have someone to report to other than their commanding officer. 

Marshall Troxell of Equality Ohio introduced their advocacy for SB 11, the Ohio Fairness Act, which would update state anti-discrimination laws to include LGBTQ persons.

Tara Polansky of Hand in Hand Domestic Employers Network shared the victory that, after intense public pressure, JP Morgan Chase has stopped giving loans to GEO Group and Core Civic who operate the majority of US for-profit prisons and migrant detention centers.

One of the reasons this group is so important to me is that it provides a space not only to share information and motivation, but relationship building, mutual learning, and blessing.  After Imam Horsed Noah spoke, one of the pastors requested we all share a moment of silence for our Muslim friends.  I was sitting beside Horsed and placed my hand on his back.  I was able to speak to him the same words we speak to one another on Sunday: “Peace be with you.”

As a final word for the morning, Rabbi Jessica Shimberg noted that she is fasting today as the feast of Purim approaches this evening, based on the story of Esther.  To paraphrase her words: “Esther survived initially by passing, blending in.  But she saved herself and her people when she revealed her identity and acted out of her deepest self.  In her case, her Jewishness.  This is the challenge and calling for us.”   

I’m grateful there is a community like this breakfast group.  Despite all the work to be done, just being in the same room together, sharing a meal, sharing a blessing, feels like its own kind of victory.