Police officers play basketball with youth at Battle Creek Tabernacle Church's parking lot.

Local churches participate is national ‘Faith and Blue’ weekend

As crime escalates and tensions between police and some communities linger, some churches have partnered with law enforcement organizations for National Faith & Blue Weekend 2021 (October 8-11) to encourage dialogue and collaboration.

Faith & Blue was launched to facilitate safer, stronger, more just and unified communities by directly enabling local partnerships among law enforcement professionals, residents, businesses and community groups through the connections of local faith-based organizations. 

On Sunday, Oct. 10, Michigan’s Battle Creek Tabernacle church hosted their first Faith and Blue event.

"The idea is to create a better connection between the community and the church and the police departments," said Robert Benardo, senior pastor at Battle Creek Seventh-day Adventist Tabernacle, who serves on the Calhoun County Faith Based Coalition which organized the program with the Battle Creek Police Department. 

The community event started with a clean-up at a nearby park and ended at the Battle Creek Tabernacle Adventist Church with food, games and a panel discussion with members of local law enforcement. 

During the panel discussion, members of law enforcement answered questions and discussed issues with community members during informal talks through the afternoon. 

Benardo says it's important that we make a conscious effort as faith leaders to go beyond the doors of the church and to say to our neighbors that we are not just community partners but citizens with them. “What a blessing it was to mingle with our community in this setting.” 

Meanwhile in Chicago’s southside, the Shiloh Church children’s department prepared thank you baskets and delivered them to the first responders on Sabbath, Oct. 9. 

Pam Daly, Children’s Ministry Director at Shiloh Adventist Church, along with some of the churches' youth prepared large boxes filled with goodies and supplies as a way of practically demonstrating God’s love and teaching children what true service looks like.  

“We hoped that the first responders would feel appreciated and loved,” said Shiloh’s Pastor, William Lee. “We understand that sometimes just a simple “thank you” or a prayer goes a long way to those who serve. Christ has called us to be His hands and feet, light and salt, so any chance we get to demonstrate HIs love, we’re all in.” 

For the past several years, Lee has worked closely with the community’s police departments as a clergy liaison and community partner. Each month local clergy and police meet together to discuss ways to improve their local community, provide safer streets, and discuss initiatives to fight crime.

“We at Shiloh are no strangers in our community. We provide food during our food pantry give-a-ways. We hold frequent prayer walks in the community. We pray on the street corners during the summer month. We feed the homeless. We see our local community as an extension of our church,” says Lee passionately. “I see myself not just as the pastor of Shiloh, but as the pastor of my local community and city. We understand ministry must happen within and outside of church doors more than once a week.” 

 

Debbie Michel, Lake Union Herald editor