In the bible, Jesus tells people to gather the small amount of food they have and the bounty fed 5,000 people. More than 50 pastors and religious leaders gather at the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol and point to that story as the template for solving Minnesota’s budget problem. They say if the rich would give a little, there would be bounty for all.
They deliver a letter signed by more than 235 Minnesota clergy asking legislative leaders and the governor to “find creative ways to ask those who have done well to make small sacrifices so that we can invest in those who’ve been hurt most by the economic downturn.”
Faith leaders who spoke at the event included: Pastor Paul Slack, New Creation Church, Brooklyn Park, co-chair of ISAIAH’s Clergy Caucus; Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman, Temple Israel; Father Don Piché, of St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church, Maple Grove.
Elder Alfred Babington-Johnson, President of The Stairstep Initiative (a group of 15 congregations) said: “Those who are wed to ‘no new revenue’ and simply want to cut critical services are astride a dead animal and would be best advised to look for the new opportunity the better vehicle with which to move forward. In other words by looking to improve the lot of the least of these we best serve to create a bright future for all Minnesotans.”
The interfaith event invoked the miracle of feeding the multitude, as well as the vision of a land flowing with milk and honey, to illustrate the abundance which is available when all participate fairly. “We reject the framework of scarcity, which pits neighbor against neighbor in competition for limited resources, and keeps us isolated and fearful,” said Rev. Grant Stevensen, President of ISAIAH and Pastor at St. Matthews Lutheran Church in St. Paul. “We are praying and bearing witness in hope of a miracle – that state leaders will see our common humanity and needs.”
After speaking, the religious leaders delivered a letter signed by 235 Minnesota clergy, along with symbolic gifts of loaves and fishes, and milk and honey to representative from the offices of Speaker Kurt Zellers, Sen. Maj. Leader Amy Koch, and Gov. Mark Dayton. (The staff members came out of the State Capitol and State Office Building, which are closed to the public during the shutdown, to accept the letters.)
ISAIAH is a coalition of 100 congregations across the state working together for racial and economic justice