Archive for Saturday, November 4, 2006

Day of prayer’s focus on needy

November 4, 2006


Steve Ozark is learning the power that can come when people of different faiths work together.

Ozark is the coordinator of the Lawrence Community Interfaith Initiative, a nearly 2-year-old group that is tackling such issues as affordable housing, emergency supplies for those in need and heating during the winter.

"This is the power of putting people together," Ozark says. "We have a more effective network."

The LCII on Sunday will have its second-annual Day of Prayer and Contemplation. As part of the event, the LCII is asking people throughout the community to pray for those in need, then gather for a convocation at 3 p.m. at South Park.

"It's a day of prayer and reflection for our friends and neighbors in their time of need," says the Rev. Gary Teske, senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 N.H., who is helping organize the convocation. "We're trying to bring about a common cause among all the churches and faith communities in the area for a day."

In its 20-month history, the LCII has provided emergency donations to victims of disasters such as the fires at Boardwalk Apartments and at the Glover home. It has helped about 20 families turn their heat back on after it was shut off. And it has distributed home weatherization kits to low-income families.

And the group has made plans for the future, with hopes of rolling out a pilot project for affordable housing in the next year to 18 months. That may involve opening a church-owned house to someone recently released from prison or dealing with mental illness, or it might involve opening a small apartment complex for people who need special services.

Ozark says between 20 and 30 people typically show up to monthly LCII meetings.

The organization again plans to raise funds to help low-income residents get their heat turned back on after it's shut off this winter. There will be a fundraising event Dec. 2 at J.B. Stout's, 721 Wakarusa Drive, featuring current and former Lawrence mayors serving as DJs and bartenders.

And Ozark says the group is always looking for new outlets for its philanthropy and service work.

"The whole focus is putting our common faith into action interdenominationally," Ozark says, "and to bring people of faith together."


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