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
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."