Tomorrow, October 16th, we will celebrate GBM’s 45th Anniversary with a banquet, centering on the theme – “Weaving The Just Community”. In preparation, we thought it necessary to share the meaning behind this phrase. If you would like to join us for the banquet, tickets are still available and can be reserved online.
The art of weaving involves interlacing distinct sets of various threads or yarns to form a fabric, cloth or tapestry. The method in which these threads interlace with one another is called a weave. Weaving is an art first practiced in very early times. Today, the art of weaving can refer to everything from carpet and basket making to hairstyles to…community building.
Early in GBM’s formation, the vision of weaving the just community was articulated by then Associate Director Rev. George Quiggle in 1969 when he said, “GBM can help serve as a midwife for new birth within the church and community enabling priority needs and the resources to address them to intersect.” That intersection over GBM’s first forty-five years has woven the landscape of our community into an amazing tapestry of service providers and advocacy organizations offering a wide range of compassionate care to people in need interlaced with addressing the social constructs that cause them to suffer. Justice, too, is a human need.
GBM nurtured and spun-off several organizations who now, in their own right, are serving Birmingham and Alabama in their own distinct way; such as the Crisis Center, Meals on Wheels, the Firehouse Shelter, Alabama Arise and the Alabama Faith Council, to name a few. GBM continues to Serve People, Build Community and Pursue Justice – the sustaining threads that interlace our partnership with eighteen faith communities throughout the Greater Birmingham area.
I became a volunteer and supporter of Greater Birmingham Ministries in the early 90’s. Growing up in racially segregated Birmingham where interaction with people different from myself was limited. It was spiritually fulfilling to work with people who were black, brown and white; urban and suburban; affluent, middle-class and poor; young and young-at-heart; male and female; straight and gay; Christian, Jew and Muslim. GBM became an interfaith organization to more broadly serve the needs of our diverse community and this weaving together of people from all walks of life is the foundation of the work of GBM. We all come together and work towards a vision that speaks to our sense of justice and mercy as the God of our understanding leads us.
The tapestry of humanity that has been woven together at GBM is all too rare and runs counter-cultural to society’s influences that work to unravel ties that bind between a diverse people rather than weaving them together to create a stronger, beloved community where everyone is valued and respected. I have remained involved with GBM because of a promise I made in my baptismal covenant many years ago, to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” I made this covenant at a time when neither justice, peace nor respect was bent toward me. At GBM, I found a place where I could live out my faith in God and people.
For 45 years, GBM has brought together diverse groups of people weaving a more just community in Greater Birmingham and beyond. The tapestry is ever growing as more threads are interwoven into an extraordinary mantle for people of faith to carry. Together, let us grab hold of the frayed ends of our shared community and blanket this city with wholeness of mind, body and spirit by serving people, building community and pursuing justice for all people.
The Rev. Carolyn J. Foster
Faith in Community Coordinator
Deacon in the Episcopal Church