Working Together to be a community where all people are valued.
In the parable of the sheep and the goats we hear the call to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger among us, give clothes to those in need and visit the sick and the prisoner (Matthew 25:31-40). Jesus teaches us that by caring for the “least of these” we are caring for him. Whether we want to admit it or not there are people in our communities that are living in poverty and lack the basics of life.
Over the past year, Community Connections, a ministry of the Western ND Synod of the ELCA, has been at work in the Williston area. We have worked to build relationships with churches and agencies serving people in need. A group called the Williston Resource Group was formed. It is comprised of congregations from four denominations, private non-profit agencies and state and federal agencies. We meet to discuss the current needs of the community and how best to bring the community together to provide the best continuum of care for those in need.
This past summer Community Connections was blessed to receive a generous grant from the Deaconess Community of the ELCA. The grant enabled us to bring a national Bridges Out of Poverty trainer from Aha! Process to Williston. Michael Dames joined us for two days. We learned the difference between generational and situational poverty, the language of poverty, the hidden rules of poverty, middle class and wealth. Fifty-four people took part in the training and the evaluations were very positive. One participant said, “Awesome workshop! I will be giving this information to my state office for consideration for training in the future.” The Williston Resource Group served as the planning team to show the community what can be accomplished when we work together.
Also, this fall we were able to coordinate with the ND Coalition for the Homeless to bring a database system to churches that serve people in need. The database provides information that helps us provide the best care for the people we serve. Five congregations from five denominations now have the capability to look up information regarding the needs as well as the service provided by other churches.
We hope this is just the beginning of Williston becoming a community that works together to be a place where all people are valued.