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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended July 16, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 15Jul00

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

Prejudice Against LDS Church, Others May Disband Interfaith Group
Huntsville AL Times 12Jul00 D1
By Yvonne Betowt: Times Religion Editor

HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA -- The financially strapped Interfaith Mission Service is issuing a call for help from area congregations to bail out such programs as HOPE Place for abused women and children, HELP Line for emergencies, the Family Services Center, Living in Family Transition, Care Assurance for the Aged and Homebound, the Food Bank of North Alabama, the Campus Ministry Association and the Food Pantry network. Chuck Vedane, the founder of Interfaith Mission Service, began his work over three decades ago. Yet, today the IMS is looking at five options to their budget problems - including disbanding the IMS.

The Rev. Dr. Jim Roberts, pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church, said, "The IMS is essential." "It is still a viable organization, and if the community wants to continue to progress and prosper - and you can't prosper without harmony - then who's going to do the work of IMS if it's not there?"

Many churches have pulled their support from the IMS. The biggest drop in contributions came during the last four years. Some Christian congregations chose to leave because of religious differences with other faith groups such as Islam, Baha'i and the Mormons or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many of these churches have turned their outreach support to efforts in other directions.

IMS Executive Director Susan Smith reported that the organization is having trouble planning a budget for this year because of the uncertainty in contributions. "From the beginning, IMS did staffing for MARLIN (Madison Assistance Relief Line), and now the very churches we were providing direct services for are decreasing their donations to IMS," she said. "It was hard for them to see the invisible things we were doing."

IMS' treasurer, the Rev. John Rickard, executive presbyter of the North Alabama Presbytery, outlined the group's budget problems and offered five options, including the disbanding of IMS. IMS could dissolve and become First Stop, a program to aid the homeless with a $1.7 million federal grant. Furlough all the staff and let the board run daily operations for a savings of $21,000. Move the full-time director to a half-time position. Rickard said the board members came up with a sixth solution: immediately raise $20,000.

Smith said she is "encouraged by the determination of the board to restore the financial stability so we can continue to do good and big things."


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