St. Mark's Review of "We Walk by Faith"
1. What staff or systems are in place dedicated to the justice and peace/social ministry?
The Justice and Peace Committee, with its twelve sub-committees. Ad hoc groups are formed under the Committee for unique efforts.
2. How is support provided to the justice and peace/social ministry, in terms of both personnel and budget?
All participants are volunteers. The church budgets approximately $70,000 annually to support this ministry, with an additional $30-40,000 coming from fundraising activities dedicated to specific missions (i.e. Haiti, Food Pantry).
3. In what way do volunteers serve in and/or support local interfaith or civic organizations that:
Address specific human needs such as homelessness and hunger?
Being a member organization of and working with feeding/shelter programs such as Judeo-Christian OutReach, Winter Shelter, Catholic Worker House, Habitat, KPC Clothing Ministry, Catholic Charities and SE Virginia Food Bank.
Provide assistance to battered spouses and children?
Working with Samaritan House for special needs as well as annually through our Holiday Baskets and Giving Tree.
Provide alternatives to abortion for women faced with an unplanned pregnancy?
Baby Shower for Crisis Pregnancy Center, Baby Bottle Bonanza for Birthright, and Respect Life Sunday, plus table with literature.
Work for social justice in the community (for example, affordable housing, inclusive zoning, etc)?
The parish has not officially joined a group, but information is advertised in the bulletin and bulletin boards for individual participation.
Empower low-income persons, such as groups funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development?
Officially not involved, but many of the Justice & Peace volunteers also volunteer their time at these organizations.
4. How does the parish participate in legislative advocacy through the Virginia Catholic Conference, the Virginia Council of Churches and the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy? How is awareness raised about legislative issues?
The parish does not officially participate in any such endeavor. These actions are political in nature and must be entered into carefully to avoid internal conflict. Our efforts go to directly meeting the immediate needs of the community.
Unofficially as a group Justice & Peace does participate in the above, bringing to the wider parish issues that are widely agreed upon and unlikely to cause internal conflict. i.e. advocacy for Debt Relief especially for Haiti, awareness for responsible voting as a Catholic, and seeking a moratorium on the Virginia death penalty. St Mark is a member of Sowers of Justice, Virginia Catholic Conference.
Awareness is raised on many issues through bulletin announcements for the parish, and email amongst J&P groups and parishioners who have expressed interest in specific issues.
5. Does the parish promote global solidarity through twinning with Haiti or another developing country, promoting fair trade coffee, educating on global issues or participating in Operation Rice Bowl or other programs of Catholic Relief Services? How is global solidarity promoted in the parish or campus ministry?
Haiti Twinning, Prayers of the Faithful, bulletin announcements, and homilies.
What educational, participatory or travel opportunities are offered?
The Parish has two trips each year to Maison Fortune orphanage in Haiti. We also offer six $150 scholarships for these.
6. To what extent does the parish integrate education on Catholic social teaching and opportunities for service learning into its religious education programs and in the parish school?
All Religious Formation groups are encouraged to participate in a variety of events, such as Feed our Neighbor, Winter Shelter, Food Pantry, Holiday food bags, garage sale, and bottle drive.
Does it promote participation in Just Faith and similar justice education programs?
We previously participated in Just Faith but do not at this time.
7. Is there a literature rack? Does it include materials on justice and peace and respect for creation?
Yes. There is a corner of the Great Hall devoted to Justice and Peace with a large display of literature
8. How does the parish integrate justice and peace and respect for creation into liturgical celebrations (for example, Prayers of the Faithful, homilies, music and the sign of peace)?
It is the philosophy of the St. Mark leadership, staff and the J&P committee to be faithful to scripture and Catholic Social Teaching; to always speak it, to always raise awareness of it, and provide opportunities for parishioners to choose to live it through our programs, their lifestyles, etc, but never by force or guilt. Jesus told us what to do and how to care for each other and how to act. It has always been each persons choice to choose him. To quote Mother Teresa: My job is not to be successful but to be faithful. By doing the above we are being faithful as long as we always speak the message and truth: in our liturgies, formation, homilies and through our service.
9. How do preaching and catechesis enable members to bring the principles of justice, peace and respect for the life and dignity of all people into their everyday life and work?
The church uses catechesis and preaches the Word of the Lord to impart to the flock lessons in life. However, the response is varied and personal. Faith is a journey and individuals are on a different stage of this lifetime travel. Each will react differently as they are touched uniquely by and through their own experience.
10. How does the parish seek opportunities to discuss and address issues with followers of the Gospel and other religious traditions concerning social and ethical questions?
We host speakers from various organizations (Judeo-Christian Outreach, One Step Higher, Habitat, KPC Clothing, etc) to come and speak on their particular group and discuss the how, what, why people need it and use it. We always invite other area churches to join us.
11. Does the parish conserve energy or recycle paper, plastic and cans or otherwise demonstrate care for God's creation (for example, using ceramic mugs instead of disposable cups)?
Yes, the parish has an extensive recycling program, uses ceramic mugs and dishes for most events, and has installed programmable thermostats for the sanctuary to help save energy.
12. Are facilities accessible to persons with disabilities (those who are hard of hearing, who use wheelchairs or who are developmentally delayed)?
Yes, facilities are accessible as per government standards. The parish has access ramps at three separate entrances to the church and a ramp for the altar. The sound system was recently upgraded in both the sanctuary and the Great Hall in order to improve clarity.
There has not been a request for special audio equipment for the hearing impaired.
Are programs designed to meet these parishioners' needs?
The parish responds to the needs of those with disabilities as they arise.
Religious formation students with special needs are included in regular classes and remain there unless they prove disruptive.
How are facilities and programs assessed for accessibility?
The parish meets all codes and guidelines during construction and we respond to input from those in need.
There is a volunteer position open as the Parish Advocate for parishioners with disabilities.
Do we use people-first language when speaking or writing to a person with a disability?
It would be difficult to find an example in our parish where we have addressed people as if a disability defined them. Our staff and volunteers have proved themselves very sensitive in this area.
13. How does the parish encourage participation of traditionally marginalized groups, such as racial and ethnic groups, women, low-income parishioners and persons with disabilities, in parish life and its leadership?
When we ask people to participate and become involved we ask everyone. There has been no incident that would provide evidence that we have excluded any person or group. Ethnic groups in our parish have unique talents that they readily share according with their interests. We go out of our way to approach individuals to join efforts where we feel diversity is not present.
14. How does the parish call its members to be just stewards of their resources of time, talent and money?
The signature effort is through our Stewardship drives in the fall and spring for ongoing ministries.
Homilies during mass provide consistent motivation for participation not only at St. Marks, but throughout the community and in all aspects of our lives.
For once a year activities for fundraising or clothing collections such as for our Garage Sale, Appalachia, etc., extra recruitment and pleas for generosity are applied.
Those individuals who are recognized as having special gifts to organize, plan, or chair our J&P sub-committees are approached directly and individually and invited to consider taking on these extra responsibilities.
Does the parish provide ways of being financially accountable to its members?
Yes, through the formal budget process and the reporting of expenditures in the bulletin and through committee minutes.
15. Does the parish pay a living wage to its employees? Does the parish provide employee benefits in accordance with diocesan personnel policies?
The parish pays prevailing wages to its employees that will attract high quality experienced individuals. Most are retired from other work or are part-time and are seeking to augment their income. Both pay and benefits are in accordance with diocesan standards.
16. Are parish facilities available for use by community groups addressing human needs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups?
The parish council has a building use policy that restricts use for outside activities because of the high level of use by the parish itself and the lack of flexibility of the facilities to accommodate multiple activities at the same time. Currently we host a SIDS group here regularly.
How are community and neighborhood concerns integrated into the life of the parish?
The church has had good relations with its neighbors and holds meetings as they arise with those who may have concerns over such issues as vandalism, crime, or hurricane shelter. The church is designated as a safe-haven for a nearby school in the event of a lockdown.
17. Does the parish make use of the resources available through the diocesan Office of Justice and Peace?
18. How might the staff of the diocesan offices assist your parish to develop programs and processes important for full implementation of the SERVICE dimension for We Walk by Faith?
At the present time, no special attention by the diocese is needed.
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