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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

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Interfaith Ministries News
Interfaith Ministries

January, 2011

The Strength of Shared Beliefs

Tuesday Memo

January 11, 2011

First, thank you to the hundreds of kind and generous people who made year-end gifts to IM.  It is a bit nerve-wracking to compare each year's fundraising response to previous years, and because our current fiscal year ends on December 31st, we typically have to guess about things like salary commitments and the number of clients we plan to serve in the new year (before we actually know the final numbers). 


So here's the news-drum roll, please-we did even better than we had hoped!  We ended the year with an increase of almost 8% in the number of donors and almost 9.5% in total gifts from 2009.  Friends of IM were incredibly generous, despite these tough economic times. 


So, my friends, thank you for helping us serve almost 4,550 seniors each day, up from 3,950 at the beginning of 2010.  We also served 558 refugees this year and we substantially increased the number and breadth of our Interfaith programming and the activities of our Office of Disaster Preparedness and Response (ODPR), even without a hurricane! 


Your support gives us the courage to keep growing our budget and services.  In 2010 we expended about $11.5 million, which was about $1 million more than we spent in 2009.  And we anticipate spending about $12.5 million this year.  We can do this only because of your support.  Thank you, thank you.




Things have gotten pretty bad in the world of politics.  Somehow our leaders have lost the sense of good manners and forgot that their words are powerful.  We are caught in the web of extremism and its rhetoric is killing us, literally.


For example, as I am writing, we are learning more about the tragic shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords from Tucson.  At this writing, six have died and others are in critical condition.  This was probably the work of one crazy person, but I suspect that this person's extremist tendencies were fueled by the tone and anger in the political realm.


Similarly, last week, the Governor of Punjab in Pakistan who espoused a more moderate form of Islam was gunned down by his own bodyguard because he had the audacity to speak out against blasphemy laws in his country.  Thousands of people wept while others rallied in praise of the bodyguard's actions.   And the poor folks who make up the peaceful middle have no way to battle the extremist elements, other than to weep for the days when Pakistan sought to be a secular, open society.


And, in our own state, politicians are battling over who will be Speaker of the House.   Generally speaking, the fight involves whether Speaker Straus is Conservative enough, which for some is code  that he is not a Christian.  While I doubt that this fight will devolve into armed assaults, it illustrates that overzealous passions are forcing people into conformity of thought and practice.


Democracy is messy by design - because the process is underpinned by the need for consensus and compromise.  The results may not always be perfect, but when done well, the greater needs are usually met while the rights of the minorities are safeguarded.


Today, those with whom we disagree often become enemies, not opponents.  It's easy to vilify enemies.  The shooting of Representative Giffords is just one example.  I am praying that some good will come from this tragedy.  It's time to tone down the rhetoric.  It's time to stop using hunting metaphors (like when people talk about putting their opponents into the cross-hairs of a gunsight).


Christina-Taylor Green, a nine-year old girl, died in the Tucson vicious gun assault; a girl who had just been elected to the student council and wanted to learn about politics.  Well if the lesson is that politics is now too dangerous for a nine- year old; it's time for the adults to take back control and put civility at the top of the list.

Talk to you in two weeks.


Elliot Gershenson

President and CEO

Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston 


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