Rev. Fred Morton, Memphis Conference retired elder and convener of the group, commented to the group, “You are now licensed to do good. Next step is to do it.”
After months of careful preparation, including pro-bono legal assistance from Linda Warren Seeley at Memphis Area Legal Services and organizing assistance from Amy Moritz, National Shalom Trainer and Director of the Center for Transforming Communities, The Corners’ largest group gathered since its initial organizing meeting 18 months ago.
Twenty one persons attended the Oct. 23 meeting in Memphis to provide input and approve final steps, including adopting bylaws and electing a board of directors.
With collaboration a key principle in the Communities of Shalom model, The Corners celebrates the participation of neighborhood residents and stakeholders from six organizations in taking this important step in their work together.
Organizations represented at the meeting included Highland Heights UMC, Jacob’s Well (a UM congregation), FirstWorks (ministry for hungry, homeless and displaced citizens in downtown Memphis started at Memphis First UMC), Christ Community Church, Highland Heights Baptist Church and Mitchell Heights Neighborhood Association.
After eight months of discernment and training through the Communities of Shalom program, The Corners of Highland Heights was commissioned Nov., 6, 2010 as an alliance of churches, businesses, and individuals committed to building a connected and cohesive community, which
promotes safety, exemplifies tolerance, and works together in unity to realize a higher quality of life in the Highland Heights/Mitchell Heights community in Memphis.
A mission of good work
Although incorporation and adopting bylaws will help in securing funding for its work, Moritz emphasized that this group has not hesitated to do good even without a license.
Over the past 12 months, the initiating group has already begun to address the pressing issues of poverty, health care, unemployment, underemployment and the need for holistic activities for neighborhood children. The vision that mobilizes this group is that their community will be a place energized by the Spirit of God where all persons find fulfillment and well-being.
As Moritz said, “You don’t need a license for this!”
And yet, pursuing this vision will be greatly aided by the ability to secure charitable gifts and grants. Hence, the step of nonprofit incorporation and the need for a board of directors consisting of Fred Morton, President; Linda Burgess, Secretary; Parker Harness, Treasurer; and members at large; Rev. Willie Woods (New Tyler AME Church) and Rev Rich Cook (Highland Heights UMC).
At the direction of those gathered on Oct. 23, the directors will add more members to represent major stake holders in the community over the coming months.
For more info about The Corners of Highland Heights and how to support this work of seeking the shalom of the city, contact Morton at (901) 377-1964 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is www.thecornersofhighlandheights.org.
For more information about Communities of Shalom and how your church can begin one, contact Moritz at the Center for Transforming Communities at 901-324-3005 or email@example.com. The website is www.centerfortransformingcommunities.org.
Reprint with Permission from The Memphis Conference of the United Methodist Church enews.
Photos courtesy of Focus for the Good, a partner of Center for Transforming Communities.
Amy C. Moritz
Center for Transforming Communities
258 N. Merton
Memphis, TN 38112
Congregations and neighborhoods working together to renew and strengthen community life.