Reimagining Healthy Communities: Chicago Faith Leaders  and others host public health issue panel

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Rev. Terence Mayo, Ella Dowd and Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III

Faith in Place Action Fund and Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation are hosting a virtual panel facilitated by Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III on August 24 at 7:00 PM CST exploring how faith leaders can advocate for public health to move beyond militarized policing and build flourishing communities.

Faith-based organizations Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (S.O.U.L.) and Faith in Place Action Fund are hosting a panel at 7:00 p.m. CST on August 24 to connect the dots between policing, public health, and social justice.

Facilitated by Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, the panel will feature faith leaders Rev. Elle Dowd and Rev. Terence Mayo.

These and other experts will discuss ways people of faith can reimagine community health centered on abolitionist values (abolition is the movement to end policing as a social institution in the United States).

Historically, social movements have included faith leaders demanding systemic change at their center. Today, faith leadership is evident  in  the  COVID-19  pandemic and nationwide protests as  Houses of Worship offer free meals,  serve as resource drop-off and distribution centers, and provide protected space for protestors to rest. These roles are examples of abolitionist values and show how faith  communities support physical, social, and mental well-being.

However, abolition remains a polarizing word, even if many people agree with its core values. Faith leaders in particular continue to be torn on the issue of defunding the police because of ties with government officials, local police departments, or other systems of power that continue to support policing.

According to the Black Abolitionist Network, the Chicago Police Department’s budgeted spending nears 40 percent of the city’s overall budget, which is at around $1.8 billion for this year. Meanwhile, communities across Chicago fight for funding to cover provisions of basic human needs including basic health care, healthy food, and green space. This lack of funding negatively impacts health and is rooted in systemic problems that exist in communities throughout the city and the United States.

These same communities, which are overwhelmingly Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), often face higher policing in their neighbor- hoods as well. Black people are killed at three times the rate of their white counterparts by the police showing another way racism is a public health crisis.

Rev. Terence Mayo works at the intersection of Religion, Education, and Public Policy. He currently works as an Implementation Specialist with the Bizzell Group, where he is creating new educational supports for the national Job Corps program. Before this, he has worked in several positions within local and state government, public education systems, and fortune 500 companies. He is a recent graduate of Howard University where he received his Master’s in Divinity with a focus on Ethics & Public Policy. He is the 2015 recipient of the Most Outstanding Presentation in the Area of Ethics, Law and

Religion for his work on domestic faith-based policies within the U.S. at the Howard University Research Day. He also has degrees in Business, Secondary Education, and Educational Leadership and Policy. Terence serves as a community leader on various faith-based boards within the D.C. metropolitan area that serve to enhance the spirit of ecumenical work, including the D.C. Interfaith Leadership Summit. He is also the Associate Pastor of Kingdom Worship Center in Upper Marlboro, MD. When not engaging in his professional passions, he enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and learning about new cultures.

Elle Dowd is a bi-furious recent graduate of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and a candidate for ordained ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Elle has pieces of her heart in Sierra Leone, where her two children were born, and in St. Louis where she learned from the radical, queer Black leadership during the Ferguson Uprising.

She was formerly a co-conspirator with the movement to #decolonizeLutheranism and currently organizes as a leader with SOUL, writes regularly for the Disrupt Worship Project and other commentaries and prayer resources. Elle facilitates workshops on gender and sexuality and the  Church in both secular conferences and Christian spaces. Elle has interests in queer and feminist Biblical interpretation and liberation and body theology. She is currently working on a book with Broadleaf about her conversion into an abolitionist to be released in the summer of 2021.

With civil rights advocacy in his DNA, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III built his ministry on community advancement and social justice activism. As Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Dr. Moss spent the last two decades practicing and preaching a Black theology that unapologetically calls attention to the problems of mass incarceration, environmental justice, and economic inequality.  A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Moss is an honors graduate of Morehouse College who earned a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Chicago Theological Seminary. Dr. Moss is an ordained minister in the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the United Church of Christ.

The August 24th panel will  inspire  faith leaders to come together to push for much needed change in Chicago and educate from different perspectives on ways the principals of public health can unite in restoring and rebuilding neighborhoods.

Registration to attend the panel is free but required. Register here: [https://www.faithinplaceaction.org/reimagining-community-health].

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