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Interfaith Community Advisory Council

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The mission of the Faith Community Advisory Council is to ensure that the County Executive is well informed of and able to act effectively in responding to the needs and concerns of faith communities, and to work collaboratively with government, non-profits and community organizations in creating a just, healthy and beloved community.


Charter for Montgomery County Executive's Faith Community Advisory Council

 Tasks:

  • Advise the County Executive on the needs and concerns of faith communities worshipping and serving others in Montgomery County, including land use issues, policy initiatives, budget priorities, responding to emergencies and acts of hate and violence, intervention and prevention of violence, integration of immigrants, healthcare for all and other partnership opportunities.
  • Identify all faith communities worshipping and serving others in Montgomery County to establish effective communication and encourage collaboration among themselves, government offices and human service agencies for the benefit of all.
  • Reach out to faith communities in Montgomery County encouraging interfaith and multicultural dialogue that foster understanding, respect and pluralism.
  • Develop partnerships among County agencies, non-profits and faith communities for human service that build capacity, strengthen spiritual formation and enhance the common good.
  • Reach out to faith communities in Montgomery County to identify their unique needs and interests and connect them with appropriate County departments, offices and resources that benefit faith communities.
  • Identify and recommend to the County Executive candidates for County positions including boards, committees and commissions to assure the County workforce and governance is reflective of increasing diversity in ethnicity, nationality and faith.
  • Identify opportunities for increasing the cultural competency within County government for serving faith communities and enhancing public awareness of the role, culture, traditions and history of faith communities in Montgomery County.
  • Identify interfaith organizations and programs for promotion and collaboration with themselves, non-profits and County officials and agencies to increase cultural competency, maximize effectiveness and promote the common good.
  • Promote programs and special events of faith communities that are inclusive and non-proselytizing through consultation, maintenance of a faith community calendar and periodic emails to all members and friends of the Faith Community Advisory Council.
  • Identify the holy days of all faith communities for inclusion in the Montgomery County Days of Commemoration that educate the public and benefit employees of Montgomery County through flexible schedules.
  • Identify marker events such as groundbreaking ceremonies, anniversaries, retirements, installations of clergy and innovative programs deserving a certificate, letter or proclamation from the County Executive.

Membership:

  • Membership on the Faith Community Advisory Council, Executive Committee, Working Groups and Committees will be as representative of the full spectrum of faith communities as possible.
  • Membership at all levels will be based on needed expertise for the tasks as well as being representative of diverse faith perspectives.
  • In order to bring expert opinion across the range of issues that affect faith communities, the County’s prohibition against serving on more than one County board, committee, or commission does not apply to the above named range of service opportunities.
  • The Advisory Council will be led by Co-Chairs designated by and who serve at the pleasure of the County Executive. One Co-Chair will rotate each year to achieve the model of both balanced and shared leadership.
  • The Advisory Council membership will consist of as large a representation as possible of all faith communities. It will include clergy and governing leadership of faith communities including religiously based non-profit organizations.
  • The Executive Committee will consist of the Co-Chairs of the Advisory Council, the Chairs of the Working Groups and others as seem appropriate at the pleasure of the County Executive.
  • The Chairs of Working Groups and Committees will be designated by the Interfaith Community Liaison. They will serve two year terms and be eligible for reappointment to a second term.
  • The Committees under the Working Groups will be chaired by a Chair of the Working Group, the Interfaith Community Liaison or one designated by them.

Organization:

  • The Advisory Council elects the Co-Chairs of the Executive Committee, sets policy, provides oversight and meets periodically with the County Executive.
  • Executive Committee sets the dates and agendas for meetings of the Advisory Council.
  • The Executive Committee establishes working groups consistent with fulfilling its purpose and tasks.
  • The Executive Committee adopts rules to ensure the orderly transaction of its business consistent with the stated purpose and tasks assigned to it.
  • The mission, goals and action items of the Working Groups are in separate documents and available to the public.

Meetings:

  • The Advisory Council will meet at least quarterly.
  • The Executive Committee will meet at least by-monthly.
  • The Working Groups and Committees will set their own schedules.
  • The County Executive’s Office of Community Partnerships will be responsible for providing public notice of the time and place of meetings and maintaining a public record of attendance and summary of actions taken.
  • Meetings of the Advisory Council will be open to the public except for discussions allowed to be held in executive session pursuant to County law. Staff:
  • The County Executive’s Office of Community Partnership will provide staff support to the Advisory Council, Working Groups and Committees.  

 

Interfaith Community Liaison

Rev. Mansfield “Kasey” Kaseman

It is an honor and a privilege to be serving as the Interfaith Community Liaison in Montgomery County with a remarkably dedicated team of colleagues. The recent commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington reminded me of the impact Martin Luther King had on my life. My call into ministry included the notion of costly grace and putting one’s life on the line. What made it possible was believing the power of love to be far more powerful than all forms of loveless power. And there was the vision of “the beloved community” void of poverty, hunger and homelessness. It is the place where people of all races, faiths, ideologies, gender and social-economic circumstances acknowledge their common humanity and seek the common good.

Yes, it is part of a dream yet to be realized. At the same time it lies at the heart of every faith tradition and is embodied in our Constitution claiming we are all equal and endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I believe we are living into such a dream and laying claim to the spiritual underpinnings of our Constitution in Montgomery County. Here we have elected officials sharing the dream and mandating that basic human rights be accorded everyone. Here Days of Commemoration are identified as part of becoming an international and interfaith community and posted on the Montgomery County website. Here we have liaisons working to embrace and engage all in the process of government and civic engagement. Here a remarkable public school system focuses additional resources on those most challenged by social-economic circumstances. Here the faith communities are joining the interfaith movement to better understand one another, celebrate their essential unity and co-create the beloved community.

The reports today document this point. And in leaving I expect you will want to become even more involved as we move forward with the dream that includes making Montgomery County the most welcoming county in America.

I began last December with four priorities:

  1. The first priority was to establish an office with good communication including IT and a credible database. This has been challenging but we are making progress. I am currently working with Geographic Information Services to identify and map every faith community in Montgomery County. We are close to demonstrating the benefits with a pilot project in the East Region that is referenced in the Land Use Working Group report. It is another example of the benefits of collaboration. Here we with InfoMONTGOMERY and the Regional Director have identified a wide range of partnerships with human service programs that benefit everyone. Further expansion requires volunteers.
     
  2. The second priority was to revive and enlarge the Executive Committee complete with goals, roles and regular meetings. The new Charter reflects this development, committee members grown from three to seven and we anticipate additions from Eastern faith traditions.
     
  3. The third priority was to become knowledgeable to the point of being an advocate and mediator on behalf of faith communities facing challenges with the Department of Permitting Services, Planning Department, Department of Finance and the State Department of Assessments and Taxation. I have been in direct communication with 113 faith communities dealing with these issues, held two regional meetings with Regional Directors and representatives from the Departments of Planning and Permitting Services. The creation of the Land Use Working Group and its mission, goals and action promises to provide strong and effective advocacy.
     
  4. The fourth priority was to identify, convene and empower faith leaders with an agenda celebrating religious plurality, working for greater justice and making Montgomery County a truly beloved community. Read the reports of the Faith Community Working Group and its three committees to appreciate the breadth and depth of our capacity to bring various county departments together with non-profits and faith communities in terms that create trust, engender cooperation, and celebrate the sense of being a beloved community. I have identified nine interfaith organizations and engaged them to the point of agreeing we should come together this fall for collaboration around common interests. I represent the County Executive on the Human Rights Commission Committee on Hate/Violence and together we are planning the first Annual Friendship Picnic on October 13.
     

We have made progress and are living into hope thanks to the vision and personal engagement of our County Executive, County Council, Office of Community Partnerships, Regional Directors and partners with department and program heads including Health and Human Services, Planning and Permitting Services and Police. Our friends in County Government have growing appreciation for the resourcefulness of the faith community in advancing common agendas. With the implementation of the Neighbors in Need Working Group and increased engagement of faith leaders we will enjoy a more beloved community.