By LINDA M. LINONIS
The Rev. Susan Quinn Bryan told elected officials and members of the faith community that they have a “moral directive to express their values in concrete ways.”
The pastor of Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati and the ecumenical delegate on the Nuns on the Bus Ohio Tour was keynote speaker at the 27th annual Mayors’ Prayer Breakfast. About 155 people attended the event Tuesday at Mahoning Country Club sponsored by Mahoning Valley Association of Churches.
She said all faith traditions make caring for those in need a priority, then she challenged people of faith to put that concern into action by supporting the Faithful Budget Campaign (www.faithfulbudget.org).
The Rev. Ms. Bryan said the national budget is a “moral document” because it affects the welfare of “people who are struggling and who rely on safety nets that are being threatened.”
Ms. Bryan said the Nuns on the Bus tour revealed a range of vulnerable people from children who may lose Headstart programs to the elderly who worry about the fate of Social Security and Medicare.
How Congress and state, county and local governments address the “needs of the most vulnerable” reflects the “soul of the nation,” she said. “It’s a struggle for its conscience.”
Churches and ministries have developed “creative answers” to hold up the safety net. But as mainstream denominations lose members, the effort is challenging.
“The poor shouldn’t bear the brunt of a rough economy. Faith traditions put the impoverished at the forefront,” she said.
That is why denominations need to stand up in force to protect social-service programs serving improverished people.
She challenged faith leaders to “reach out to congressmen” and emphasized the value of “setting a moral standard” in social-service programs.
“Common ground is a narrow place," Ms. Bryan said. “It is about making hard choices. It’s being the voice for the vulnerable.”
She admitted the task is daunting. “It’s a struggle in an ever-increasing secular society.”
The speaker said Americans like to count and measure. The number in a congregation can be counted but how members grow in faith is an elusive measurement. Humans should think about how God would measure faith.
“It’s not the number in the congregation, the budget, the church building or music,” she said. It rests on how people of faith behave to provide food, clothing and shelter to those need.
She reinforced that idea with the thought that it is humanity’s Responsibility to answer God’s prayer in caring for the needy.
Elsie Dursi, retiring MVAC executive director, spoke briefly, noting it was her last prayer breakfast as leader of the faith-based organization.
Imam Walid Abuasi of the Islamic Society of Greater Youngstown offered the opening prayer. Rabbi Franklin Muller of Congregation Rodef Sholom
offered the prayer, and the Rev. Dr. Lewis Macklin, pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, the benediction.
Sister Ann McManamon of the Dorothy Day House in Youngstown introduced the speaker.
The Heavenly Hornets, the St. Nicholas School choir of Christ Our Savior Parish in Struthers, sang with Lauren Johnson directing.