Faith Voices of Columbia introduces 'moral agenda' for 2019

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Faith Voices of Columbia hopes its “moral agenda” will remind Columbia city officials of the worth and dignity of all people and inspire officials to use this knowledge when making policy decisions in 2019.

Faith Voices of Columbia is a faith-based community organizing group representing different congregations in the city. It is one of four chapters of Missouri Faith Voices.

Approximately 50 people attended the organization’s meeting Thursday evening at Missouri United Methodist Church. The purpose of the meeting was to call upon city officials to adhere to the agenda and to work with them to ensure that local families “have what they need to thrive,” said Brittany Hughes, regional organizer for Missouri Faith Voices.

Hughes said the team in Columbia talked to approximately 3,000 voters from “vulnerable communities” in Columbia during the fall of 2018. By talking with those voters, the organization was able to find areas of focus and created a “moral agenda” for Columbia in 2019.

The agenda calls upon city officials to increase funding for and improve various aspects of life in Columbia. The agenda’s proposals are divided into five sections: housing justice, transit, sanctuary, education and the justice system.

Several suggestions were positively received by meeting attendees, specifically the request for the Columbia City Council and city manager to recruit and hire a new police chief “who demonstrates both understanding and commitment to the principles of community policing,” according to the agenda.

The agenda also calls upon the city to increase transit funding by 20 percent by the end of 2019.

“We were disappointed in recent budget cuts to public transit that the city made,” Molly Housh Gordon, a religious official with the organization, said in an interview before the meeting.

“When it comes to making decisions that have an impact on social equity and what people are able to do, sometimes it seems like (city officials) forget about that value in service of making the numbers work,” Gordon said. “We want to just always draw their attention back to equity and dignity.”

The representatives of Faith Voices of Columbia intend to present their agenda at the scheduled meeting of the City Council on Feb. 4. The agenda will also be posted online, and the organization hopes to gain 5,000 signatures in support as strong evidence of endorsement.

Supervising editor is Kaleigh Feldkamp.

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