Spiritual leaders discuss how to help state's less fortunate

Rev. Shelley Copeland (left) and Charles Frazier talk with clergy/Tracy Simmons- creedibleHARTFORD – On Thursday afternoon, about 40 men and women of the cloth gathered together to discuss how to meet the needs of Connecticut’s underprivileged.

Meeting for the first time at the Conference of Churches’ new facility at 224 Farmington Ave. in Hartford, the group enthusiastically listened to President Shelley Copeland introduce the organization’s newest initiatives, which include healthcare projects, young adult programs and statewide faith-based partnerships.

“We have a lot of things going on, hopefully we can come together and make a difference in the community,” said Board Chair Charles Frazier.

The Conference of Churches is a 108-year-old organization whose mission is to, “achieve social justice for all people through faith-based leadership, education, advocacy and partnership.”

“Even though we have different theologies,” Copeland told the group, “most of us can agree upon this: We all care for the poor.”

The Conference focuses on three pillars called Healthy, Wealthy and Wise, and has initiatives in each area designed to help people of all faiths live a better life.

Copeland said that all spiritual leaders in the ecumenical group have a desire to help underprivileged families and want to come together to help those families.

After explaining the organization’s ambitious hopes, clergy attending the strategic planning meeting shared their ideas. Some said they’d like to focus on immigration issues, others said they’d like to work on interfaith work, others mentioned their passion for fatherhood and motherhood programs, and others suggested the group discuss ways to overcome violence in Hartford.

“It would be nice if we could all come together,” said Bradford Howard Jr., of Restoration Temple Deliverance Mission of Hartford, “We need all talents. Let’s save lives. It can be done.”

Copeland agreed that violence is an issue that clergy needs to become more involved in, adding that spiritual leaders need to be more visible in the public square and come out from behind their church walls.

Frazier said the Conference of Churches hopes to have strategic planning meetings at least twice a year. He said Thursday’s meeting was to get everyone in the same room to begin discussing and thinking about the organization’s mission.

“Hopefully we’ve stirred up some ideas,” he said.

For more information on the Conference of Churches visit its Web site at www.conferenceofchurches.org/home.html.

How do you think clergy can help Connecticut’s less fortunate?

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