United Way of the Midlands Convenes Faith-Based and Community Leaders to Discuss Collaborative Efforts

November 5, 2009

COLUMBIA, SC – November 2, 2009  – Dr. Fred Smith of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. will be in town on Tuesday, November 17 for United Way of the Midlands fall Community Assembly at Brookland Banquet and Conference Center. Dr. Smith will speak on the promise of faith-based social service delivery and best practices.

While social service non-profits and government agencies are tasked with serving our neediest residents, the services of faith-based organizations often fill in service gaps and assist our most vulnerable populations.  The work of faith-based organizations spans the continuum – from prisoner reentry programs, to substance and alcohol abuse counseling, to mentoring and after school programs and food pantries.

A 2007 national survey reports that almost 70 percent of the nation’s congregation provided social services to their members or communities.  However, relatively few congregations applied for or received government funds to provide these essential services.

United Way recognizes that to truly address the needs in the community, non-profits, government agencies and faith-based organizations must work together effectively, said Bunnie Lempesis, Director, Community Capacity Building, Not only is this a local concern, but this sentiment also extends beyond the Midlands’ community and is being addressed on a national level.

United Way of the Midlands applauds the promising work of faith-based organizations, and the fall assembly is an opportunity to facilitate a community dialogue about the critical role these groups play in impacting the lives of Midlands residents.  The assembly will explore their potential for creating even more change in the lives of our citizens.  The passion and commitment of faith-based groups to serving people in needs are essential factors that ensure there is a social services safety net for those most in need.

Dr. Fred Smith, featured guest and speaker for the event, is an elder in the United Methodist Church.  He served as the Associate Director of Interfaith Programs for the Carter Center in Atlanta before becoming Senior Pastor of Fellowship UMC and Director of the Center of Hope (2000-2005). He specializes in the areas of prophetic religious education, violence in black communities, substance abuse prevention, and services for at-risk youth. 

Smith is currently writing The Beloved Community: Prophetic Religious Education, Faith-based Initiative Manual.

Everyone is welcome to attend this community meeting.

The cost is $10 per person and includes breakfast, which will be served at 7:30 AM. Dr. Smith will begin his remarks promptly at 8:00 AM and a panel discussion will follow. All who are interested in attending should register at www.uway.org/events.  

Dr. Smith will be available for interviews prior to the event. To arrange an appointment, please contact Lauren Chess, United Way of the Midlands Communications Coordinator at [email protected] or 803.733.5447.

About United Way of the Midlands

United Way of the Midlands is the most organized, efficient and accountable system for investing in the community. With more than 80 certified partner agencies, United Way works to identify and respond to the critical human service needs of Calhoun, Fairfield, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg and Richland counties. Funds are raised through workplace campaigns, grant writing and individual donations. For more information, please visit www.uway.org.