By Lily Belcher
On October 25, the Catholic Church of the Nativity attended the 33rd annual HOPE convention as one of 24 local member congregations of the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality, or HOPE. HOPE is an interfaith organization that unites community members from all walks of life to build ministries of justice and solve community problems.
The convention gave 40 to 50 members of the Catholic Nativity Church the opportunity to present issues in the community so that HOPE could prioritize future work and ministry missions to help the community. After the convention, HOPE forms various committees to create programs that can help with issues in the community.
The Fall Congress is the first of four major events. After the convention, HOPE is organizing the HOPE Spring Rally to prepare for its biggest event of the year, the annual Nehemiah Action.
“We are building towards our Nehemiah action by holding house meetings to hear the most pressing issues and concerns that confront and worry members, neighbors and friends of our congregations,” according to the HOPE website.
During Nehemiah Action, named after the prophet Nehemiah, HOPE members directly encourage community leaders to make necessary policy changes. The year of the ministry of HOPE ends with the celebration of the ministry of justice of HOPE after the action of Nehemiah.
Throughout the year, HOPE holds meetings for potential HOPE members and those who have been assisted by HOPE.
“HOPE is now holding ‘home meetings’ to chat with people interested in HOPE. We share HOPE success stories and ask participants to share their own story or the stories they have heard of how the justice system has failed, ”said Deacon Bob Harris of the Nativity Catholic Church. “These stories are collected and sent to the management of HOPE, which determines the next course of action in which HOPE will be involved.”
This year, HOPE addressed affordable housing, arrests of adults for petty crimes and civil citations of young people. One of the challenges this year was to increase access to mental health and addiction services.
According to its website, “community outreach, access to recovery-oriented services and treatment, and law enforcement training are essential to ensure that people with mental health disorders and addictions get the services they need and stay out of the criminal justice system.
For more information on HOPE, visit hillsboroughhope.org or call 221-4673.