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New Coalition To Help Poor Being Formed By Churches

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Section Three<br><br>THE ANN ARBOR NEWS<br><br>, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Wednesday, September 23,1970<br><br>Pages 33 to 46<br><br>New Coalition To Help Poor Being Formed By Churches<br><br>A new coalition—the Interfaith Coalition of Congregations—began to take shape early this week as 17 Washtenaw County churches met to organize aid to the local poor and disadvantaged.<br><br>An original coalition of lo| church'lj Iwigffll'tC "wofk'tov a community-wide aid association three weeks ago as leaders of the Washtenaw County Black Economic Development League. Inc., and county Welfare Rights Organization (BEDL-WRO)<br><br>tinued to press for aid linked through the Black Manifesto.<br><br>The demands were first heai$l one year ago when Charles Thomas. BEDL president, gan reading the Black Manifest)] to city churches. He had i the demands to some churches before being stoppe|| by an injunction.<br><br>This year sit-ins began Auf 19 when Thomas and Mrs. Sai dra Girard, BEDL treasurer ar WRO member, started the li day occuption of the First Uni ed Presbyterian Church, 141 Washtenaw.<br><br>Since mid-August about city churches have been visitei and approached by BEDL-WRt lor aid. The drive has resultei<br><br>Church $(10,000), Friends Meetinghouse ($1,500), Beth Israel ($860 with more anticipated) and St. Aidan’s Episcopal ($400).<br><br>First United Methodist Church pledged $25,000 to aid the county poor but did not recognize BEDL-WRO as the administrative agent for the funds.<br><br>The other four congregations have issued statements recognizing BEDL and WRO as legiti-| [mate organizations and representatives of the county disadvantaged.<br><br>The original 10 sister churches began organizing as an answer to demands voiced by BEDL-WRO leaders. They also joined ;in injunctive action prohibiting BEDL-WRO leaders and agents<br><br>funds from First UnitariaB from interfering wtih churchl<br><br>worship and activities.<br><br>Included in that injunction action is the Beth Israel Jewish congregation. The press for aid and reparations at St. Francis of, Assisi Roman Catholic Church | resulted in arrest for BEDL-WRO agents. Their trial] ates are set for next week.<br><br>The original coalition invited social service agencies—includ [ing BEDL-WRO—to join in forming the community association. Thomas responded to that action by calling the coalition “delaying tactic” and a mes ure to “avoid social responsibil ity collectively, rather than individually.”<br><br>He hit the original coalition proposal saying it failed to meet the immediate need of school<br><br>ing for some 3,200 welfare ren; would be exploring > already mapped by 1DL-WRO, and did not rec-e the legitimacy of BEDL-<br><br>Monday evening representa-‘ area churches met at Trinity teran Church to organize the interfaith body. The meet-was chaired by the Rev. chard Preis, pastor at Trinity theran. Mr. Preis is also sident of the Washtenaw 3ty Counil of Churches.<br><br>working document of the coalition is a statement of se and organization set by a steering committee rmen and clergy appointed weeks ago.<br><br>document begins with a<br><br>statement of compassion says: “As congregations of| [Washtenaw County, we are banding together to respond to the needs of our county through financial effort, legislative and social action, and continuing study. By our unified involvement, it is our intent to meet the needs more effectively.<br><br>Coalition congregations will be j asked to provide funds, services, and facilities to achieve its ends. Membership is open to all county churches.<br><br>A meeting has been scheduled for Oct. 4 to complete the organization for the new body. Following this meeting, Mr. Preis said officers and member|( congregations will be announced,<br><br>He said 38 congregations werej'<br><br>represented at the meeting thisl week, although only 17 had power from their administrative boards to make commitments to] the interfaith coalition. (Organizational structuring and responsibilities will also be explained] after the October meeting.)<br><br>Four goals were set in : coalition document: (1) To sure ways and means for the) poor and disadvantaged to participate in the study, decision making, distribution of funds and legislative activity of the coalition;<br><br>2) To receive and distribute funds to achieve the purpose;<br><br>3) To make a continuing study of the problems of the poor and disadvantaged in the county and with the aid of agencies and per-<br><br>sons, public and private, recommend funds;<br><br>4) To approach county, state, and national legisaltors to urge them to inaugurate programs to make it possible for the poor and disadvantaged to achieve an adequate standard of living.<br><br>Mr. Preis said. "This coalition [of congregations has the potential of being a positive force that is needed in our community at this time. It can be that positive force because congregations are uniting to face the issues before us.”<br><br>He said BEDL-WRO leaders have not been contacted with the new coalition document. BEDL-WRO leaders this week are continuing their meetings with other city churches.