The strength of the interfaith ministry lies in the diversity and strength of the coalition that supports the effort. The coalition allows us to build a ministry that is effective, capable and enduring. It expands the base of human and financial resources and strengthens efforts to achieve the mission of the ministry. The coalition benefits from the diverse gifts of each member in the ministry. During 2009, more than 100 faith communities participated in some manner in the ministry. The coalition for Faith in Action Caregivers includes not only these faith communities, but also the social service and health care providers, the medical community, the legal community, the government entities, and the judicatories of faith communities who recognize the lack of adequate services and the gaps in existing services.
One of the saddest patterns in the life of any congregation or community is when older people and those who are disabled become less involved due to declining health and gradually “fall through the cracks” of regular attention and prayerful concern. An important part of our shared ministry is to make certain that the circle of fellowship within our faith communities remains constantly intact. By fully integrating these ministries into the services already provided by government, social service and health care agencies, faith communities can insure that the elderly, the disabled and others in need will find spiritual, emotional and physical health and wholeness. By extending the circle of care and compassion of our faith communities, we can restore the spirit that once was the hallmark of faith communities.
Volunteer caregivers are recruited mainly through local congregations that are members of the Faith in Action Caregivers coalition. One of our major challenges is to help faith communities and their members identify the gifts that each can bring to our shared ministry. Our success in doing this is reflected in the number of new volunteer caregivers each year. We continue to enhance the outreach efforts to faith communities by increasing the number of presentations to faith-based groups, meeting individually with clergy in each county we serve and defining specific needs that can be met by volunteers.
While many needs of the elderly and disabled have been met, there is a growing number of elderly and disabled persons who will continue to have needs that volunteer caregivers can meet. Faith in Action Caregivers recognizes that no one agency or organization is able to fill all the needs of individuals who want to remain independent. Having an active coalition of congregations, social service and health care providers, and businesses is a key factor in the success of Faith in Action Caregivers. Through this network we are able to connect with colleagues and other professionals so that we can fill the gaps in services to our older adult and disabled neighbors. Faith in Action Caregivers does not duplicate services. We are a key piece of the puzzle that provides care for our neighbors.