By Lily Belcher
On October 25, Nativity Catholic Church participated in the 33rd annual HOPE convention as one of the 24 local congregations that is a member of the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality, or HOPE. HOPE is an interfaith organization that unites community members of all backgrounds to build justice ministries and solve community problems.
The convention gave 40 to 50 members of Nativity Catholic Church the opportunity to present problems in the community so HOPE can prioritize future works and ministry missions to help the community. After the convention, HOPE forms various committees to create programs that can help the issues in the community.
The fall convention is the first of four major events. After the convention, HOPE organizes the spring HOPE rally to prepare for its biggest event of the year, the annual Nehemiah Action.
“We build toward our Nehemiah Action through carrying out house meetings to hear the most pressing problems and concerns that are confronting and worrying our congregations’ members, neighbors and friends,” according to HOPE’s website.
During Nehemiah Action, named after the prophet Nehemiah, HOPE members directly encourage community officials to make necessary policy changes. HOPE’s year of ministry concludes with the HOPE Justice Ministry Celebration after Nehemiah Action.
Throughout the year, HOPE hosts meetings for potential HOPE members and those that have been helped by HOPE.
“HOPE is having ‘house meetings’ now to talk with people interested in HOPE. We share HOPE success stories and ask the participants to share their own story or stories they have heard from others of how the justice system has failed,” said Deacon Bob Harris from Nativity Catholic Church. “Those stories are collected and sent to HOPE leadership, who determine the next action program HOPE will be involved in.”
This year, HOPE has addressed affordable housing, adult arrests for minor crimes and youth civil citations. One of this year’s issues was increasing access to mental health and addiction services.
According to its website, “Community awareness, access to recovery-oriented services and treatment and law enforcement training are key to ensuring people with mental health and substance use disorders get needed services and stay out of the criminal justice system.”
For more information on HOPE, visit hillsboroughhope.org or call 221-4673.