Opening Remarks at Quad Cities Interfaith's 2016 Fundraising Breakfast

As its president, I spoke first at Quad Cities Interfaith's annual fundraising breakfast on November 10, 2016. Quad Cities Interfaith empowers people to create change in their community and create racial and economic justice. This is what I said...


Good morning.

I am Rev. Clark Olson-Smith. I am the pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Clinton, Iowa. And I am the president of Quad Cities Interfaith.

Quad Cities Interfaith turned 30 this year. That’s thirty years of creating a more just society.

Today is not a day to celebrate those 30 years. We did that over the summer. But today, I do want to remember one thing: Quad Cities Interfaith was born in crisis. A jobs crisis. A housing crisis.

Why remember the crisis of 30 years ago? So we can remember who we still are today.

We do not live at the mercy of our anxiety. We are people of hope.

Here is a principle of community organizing. We take the world as it is, not as we want it to be. I don’t know about you, but until the other day, I was living with some illusions. Those are gone now. Losing them was painful, but now I can begin again, with you, at the starting point of organizing. Reality.

From reality, we look with eyes of faith toward a future firmly in the hands of the God of compassion and justice. So we do not despair. Instead, we come together to act powerfully for God’s future. The beloved community.

Hope is more than a feeling. Hope is a choice. It’s a verb. Hope is an act of defiance.

Hope is building community.
Hope is deeper relationships across our differences.
Hope is strengthening your congregation.
Hope is developing your leadership and growing your public life.
Hope is exhausting ourselves doing sacred work for justice and compassion.
Hope is what happens as we organize for power.

I want to thank you for being here today. We’re going to hear about the hope that’s happening right now, because of Quad Cities Interfaith.

Thank you for your generosity. We have work to do. We can only do it together. The time and money you give today matters more than ever.


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