Proposition A: What changed?

This week, the community united and voted 63 percent in favor of Proposition A.
What changed? Some Prop A opponents suggested it was a result of pro-Prop A
advertising. Others talked about interest groups and agendas to try to diminish
a clear victory for all St. Louis metro residents.

At Metropolitan Congregations United, an interdenominational, multi-racial
community organization of religious congregations, we believe a major factor
was organized people of faith.

Faith leaders understood that this vote was a test of our values. Last summer,
clergy in the city and county heard the voices of the people who suffered from
the transit cuts. They felt a moral imperative to respond.

In October, faith leaders from MCU held a transit forum for elected officials
to lift up the voices of our community and make sure our representatives heard
them. County Council members, state representatives and U.S. Rep. Russ
Carnahan, D-St. Louis, listened and lent support.

In December, people of faith rode MetroLink and collected hundreds of
signatures for the initiative. Thirteen pastors — Baptists, Catholics,
Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians — joined with MCU and took action.
They preached about community unity at worship services, canvassed
neighborhoods, organized fish fries, held prayer vigils and rallied at Metro
stops. They worked closely with Advance St. Louis and the Greater St. Louis
Transit Alliance.

They spoke from the heart of their faith, reminding people that we are a single
community and that greater opportunity benefits everyone. They rejected the
voices of division that tried to pit rich against poor, black against white,
county against city. They rejected the politics of fear and scarcity. They
reminded that God calls us together in a community of love.

The crisis we face in St. Louis — and all across America — requires the
unifying power of faith. As we rebuild our economy, we will struggle with the
people who try to divide us through fear, who tell us to provide for ourselves
and retreat behind the highest walls we can build. That is not what America is
about, and it is the opposite of what our faith calls us to do.

St. Louisans came together this week to further a vision of sacred community
and shared abundance that is the surest path toward a future in which we all
prosper. By heeding the call of our faith and organizing to act on our beliefs,
we can ensure that vision becomes a reality.

The Rev. Tommie L. Pierson Sr. — St. Louis

Linda Dopuch — St. Louis Metropolitan Congregations United


This op-ed article originally appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch in Letters to the Editor on April 10, 2010 and is available here: