Huntsville’s faith community coming together to tackle tough issues, such as mass incarceration

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - It's been one year since the grassroots organization, Faith in Action Alabama, formed.

The stated goal: " a statewide grassroots interfaith, interracial faith-rooted organization that will build and wield power that leads to bold public decisions at the local and state levels that honor the dignity of all of God’s children."

With 60 member congregations in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery, the group is off to a strong start.

Fifteen of those congregations are in the Huntsville area, including New Beginnings Christian Church and Temple B'nai Sholom.

Thursday evening, New Beginnings served as the host site for Faith in Action's first public event in Huntsville.

The group invited Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard to a forum at the church. All were welcome. It was a chance for the community to talk to the district attorney about issues that disproportionately impact people of color.

That includes mass incarceration.

New Beginnings Christian Church Pastor Errol Davis has worked in prison ministry for 25 years.

Rev. Davis says, "I think the only way you become a part of the solution to a problem is you've got to have compassion for people, period."

Rabbi Elizabeth Bahar of Temple B'nai Sholom is also part of Faith in Action.

"The fact that in Huntsville, Alabama we're seeing congregations that haven't gotten together in this way is, for me, a sign of hope," she says.

Rabbi Bahar acknowledges some may be uncomfortable, even fearful, of the kind of systemic change that's advocated.

"What would it mean to change the criminal justice system? Would we still be safe in our homes? Is our clergy leading us in the way we need to be led?"

Still, Rabbi Bahar believes it is the responsibility of the faithful to acknowledge where the community can do better.

She adds, "to do that means we cannot live in denial, to do that means we must take responsibility for our neighbors and we must admit that we've had some culpability, either through our silence or our decisions not to speak up."

By coming together, by speaking up, Faith in Action Alabama seeks to create more opportunity for all Alabamians.

To learn more about Faith in Action Alabama, visit the group's Facebook page or email Executive Director Daniel Schwartz at daniel@fiaal.org. You can also call (205) 451-3352.