ABQ FaithWorks Collaborative is an alliance of congregations seeking wholeness for our community as we learn, serve, and advocate with those living on the margins.
Canterbury is a founding member of ABQ FaithWorks. The seeds of this organization were planted more than two years ago, when our previous rector Sylvia+ and other Nob Hill area clergy shared how inadequate they felt in the face of the needs of the many people in crisis who come to our doors. Mennonite pastor Erica Lea-Simka proposed they explore a model that she had worked with in a downtown parish in Washington, DC, where several churches shared the services of a social worker – and a series of many meetings was born.
Anne McCormick of Canterbury was involved from the beginning and more recently Diana Melendres, Bob Moriarty and Sally Barlow have assisted. There is now a formal organization, a New Mexico Nonprofit Corporation, with Articles of Incorporation approved by the Secretary of State, a Board of Directors, Officers, Bylaws, and a fiscal agent (NM Conference of Churches). Sally Barlow is Canterbury’s member of the Board. In addition to Canterbury, participating organizations include: First Congregational United Church of Christ, ABQ Mennonite, St. Mark’s Episcopal, St. Andrew Presbyterian, First Unitarian, Monte Vista Christian Church, and Community of Hope/University Heights (Methodist). All these churches have pledged $5000 towards the salary, benefits and expenses of hiring a social worker for a one-year period. Canterbury’s share came from a Poverty and Outreach Board grant from the Diocese of the Rio Grande. In addition to individual church support, ABQ FaithWorks is in the process of receiving funds from the City of Albuquerque Family & Human Services Department and discretionary funds from at least one Bernalillo County Commissioner, and is approaching area businesses and foundations. Albuquerque Interfaith has supported the initiative from the beginning and is actively pursuing funding for it. Finally, FaithWorks is collaborating with the NM nonprofit Albuquerque Heading Home to access its expertise in the field and network with the larger community of service providers in the city.
Recently a person has been engaged to be FaithWorks’ Social Services Coordinator to begin working in early June. Her office will be at the UCC Church at Girard and Lomas. She and the Board will develop a system of communication and receive referrals from member churches; she will also visit one church a month for a general informational meeting to update congregations on her work and to engage them in actions they can take to address issues of affordable housing, hunger, mental health, and poverty in Albuquerque. The Social Services Coordinator is not meant to replace individual churches’ efforts of assistance. Instead, her work will allow our organization to assist some of the most vulnerable people with inter-related services to lead to their improved overall health and stability.