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Austin Interfaith ASEC Core Team

The All Saints' Austin Interfaith Core Team has a report of progress made in responding to the concerns raised in our November 12th house meeting conversations.



REPORT TO THE CONGREGATION
All Saints’ Austin Interfaith Core Team
January 2018

The Austin Interfaith Core Team connects All Saints’ with the thirty-plus other churches and organizations that make up the Austin Interfaith coalition. We foster the institutional development of our own congregation by hosting small group conversations (“house meetings”) in which our members express their concerns about our life together in All Saints’ and discern how we can act on them. We also represent All Saints’ in the deliberations with representatives of the other churches belonging to Austin Interfaith. Through a similar democratic process we discover the concerns of our parish and the wider membership about our life together as fellow citizens of Austin and decide how we can act on them together. Thus we simultaneously promote initiatives taken by members of All Saints’ to improve the common life of our own congregation and also participate in initiatives taken by Austin Interfaith as a whole to improve the common life of our city.

During the past year we hosted “house meetings” on two occasions, one in the spring and the other in the fall. Through these small group conversations, we identified four major issues. With regard to our own congregation we are concerned about our ministry to our children, youth, and
families as well as our ministry to the aging and their caregivers. With regard to our city, we are concerned about homelessness and affordability, particularly the lack of affordable housing.

Ministry to children, youth, and families. These conversations added momentum to the revamping of our Sunday school and EYC programs, under the leadership of Lee Read. This is an ongoing process, which has already resulted in improved signage, larger Sunday school classes, the formation of a parish-wide Committee on Ministry to Children and Youth, the recruitment of more volunteers and great energy for implementing other ideas, such as engaging first and second graders (too old for children’s chapel, too young for the acolyte program) in the worship service.

Ministry to the aging and their caregivers. Nancy Felice, Carolyn Ostrom, and Mary White gave a series of Adult Forum presentations on aspects of aging, and a group is being formed to consider additional measures.

Homelessness. Charlotte Frazier explored various programs for the homeless to see where we might best plug in. With the help of Kelly Barnhill we discovered that there is a particular area of our city’s huge homelessness problem that is underserved, in which we might make a significant contribution: preventing youth who are aging out of the foster care system from becoming homeless. In 2018 our parish will begin participating in the Open Table program, which is particularly well suited to assisting young people in this situation, More information about this initiative will be forthcoming in the first few months of 2018.

Affordability. This is a concern of many organizations that belong to Austin Interfaith. Two of our core team members, David Guarino and Michael Floyd, took part in an Austin Interfaith task force to study how the proposed revision of Austin’s land use code (“CodeNEXT”) will affect the availability of affordable housing for low-income and lower-middle class families. The group prepared a position paper on CodeNEXT, which has been presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission and to City Council, and developed an informative presentation that has been given in a couple of venues, and is tentatively scheduled to be given at All Saints’ in February. Through our participation in Austin Interfaith we were able to affect city policies in several areas, including the following.

City budget priorities. Living wage increases for city employees; protections for construction workers on development projects that involve benefits from the city; funding for the Capital IDEA job training program, including Central Health District funding to train nurses; funding for Prime Time after school programs and Austin ISD parent support projects.

Healthcare. Wait times reduced (from one year or more to six months or less) for specialty care in Austin-Travis County health district; creation of Southeast Health and Wellness Clinic in the old VA clinic in Montopolis; provision of legal services to clinic clients to improve their access to covered medical care and related resources.

Immigration, criminal justice, and community policing. Met with candidates for Travis County sheriff, Sheriff Hernandez, and APD Interim Chief Manley, to get commitments to enforce federal and state regulations regarding undocumented immigrants only to the extent required by law; held a press conference at the Capitol with Roman Catholic Bishop of Austin, Joe Vasquez, publicizing testimony offered in opposition to Senate Bill 4; formed relationships with APD Interim Chief Manley and key lieutenants to find ways of working with police to implement true community policing.

Austin Interfaith has adopted a strategy for expanding into the surrounding counties of Central Texas and has received grants from the Episcopal Health Foundation and the Michael and Alice Kuhn Foundation to fund this initiative. The initial goal is to influence the 2018 elections to the
state legislature, through a non-partisan get-out-the-vote campaign, so that the candidates elected will appreciate the common good and be attentive to the needs of Central Texas families.

Faithfully,
Your Austin Interfaith Core Team
April Floyd
Michael Floyd
Charlotte Frazier
David Guarino
Anne Province
Richard Ribb

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