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Community finds voices of faith

More than 30 churches, groups join individuals for Faith Voices for Jefferson City

Natasia Sexton, left, and Maggie George perform “We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder” during the Faith Voices for Jefferson City founding convention on Thursday at Quinn Chapel AME Church.

Natasia Sexton, left, and Maggie George perform “We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder” during the Faith Voices for Jefferson City founding convention on Thursday at Quinn Chapel AME Church.

A 26-year-old mother of a two-year-old, Joeni Miller doesn’t want to live in poverty.

She was invited to share her personal experience without access to Medicaid with more than 320 residents, public officials and clergy who attended Thursday’s “Claim the Dream” founding convention of Faith Voices for Jefferson City.

Untreated health problems have created a hardship for this educated young woman to find employment, she said.

“I want to work, I want to build a home, I want my life to mean something,” Miller said. “With Medicaid I could take care of my health issues and move on with my life.

“I think I’m worth it.”

She was met with a standing ovation, and followed by Gov. Jay Nixon who agreed she was worth it.

Both Nixon and Rep. Jay Barnes were invited to speak to the group but also asked to commit to seeing Medicaid expansion as a moral imperative, said the Rev. John Bennett who spoke on the topic.

Prior to the the introduction of Faith Voices’ agenda, the Rev. John Gaydos, Bishop of the Diocese of Jefferson City, delivered a keynote address emphasizing the seven key themes of Catholic social teaching.

At the foundation of all the other themes is the first — the life and dignity of the human person. Without this, a society’s moral vision will collapse, he said.

Abortion and euthanasia, the death penalty, civilians targeted by terrorists and needless violence are all threats to core truth, he said.

“Every person is precious and people are more than things,” Gaydos said.

Other themes included the call to family and community participation, accepting rights with responsibilities, reaching the poor and vulnerable, the dignity and rights of workers, solidarity and care for God’s creation.

Many speakers, including Gaydos, throughout the more than two-hour event referred to 1 John 3:17: “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”

A roll call of member and ally organizations named more than 26 churches and other places of worship, as well as seven other businesses and associations.

In addition to the state issue of Medicaid expansion, the local organization will continue to press the city council to create a Transit Advisory Commission.

And they soon will promote the statewide Early Voting Initiative.

“As never before, clergy across Missouri are collaborating to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable,” said W. T. Edmonson, president of Faith Voices For Jefferson City. “We will demonstrate our faith through action.”

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