Religious groups back job equality for rail project

September 23, 2012  • 

People from various faiths and communities on Sunday evening raised their voices in song and prayer for local jobs and equity in conjunction with the proposed Chicago-to-Iowa City rail project with stops in the Quad-Cities.

About 70 people attended “A Quad-Cities Interfaith Prayer Vigil for Jobs and Job Equity” held at 6 p.m. at First Christian Church, 1826 16th St., Moline.

Through the Quad-Cities Interfaith initiative, lay and faith leaders alike have joined to ensure that the rail project provides local jobs and equitable access to jobs.

“We want the best for our community,” said the Rev. David Geenen of the 15th Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Rock Island. “Not just the lowest common denominator, but the common good.

“As clergy, we’re grown closer together, even though we come from different traditions,” he said. “Together, we can be more powerful with a voice than alone.”

Many members of the clergy-led prayer and scripture readings. Talia Alvi of the Muslim Community of the Quad-Cities, Bettendorf, prayed for “the balance of justice that all creation is based on. We give thanks for the convenience and commerce that (the rail project) will bring.”

The Rev. Rogers Kirk of the Third Missionary Baptist Church, Davenport, grew up in the segregated South.

“There were many in my town who felt that this practice was all right and there was nothing wrong with it,” he said. “Together, we were able to bring about change ... All this came about because of a grassroots campaign to eradicate injustice.”

The Rev. Beth Rupe of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Moline, led a responsive prayer. “Help us to acknowledge our role in oppression in people’s lives when we participate in business practices that continue to exclude the poor and overlooked and that fails to train the ones who have traditionally been pushed to the margins of employment opportunities,” she said.

“We pray that all may have access to work that will provide the income necessary to meet their needs.”

Mark Rupe, song leader of the first Christian Church, led the closing song, “What Does the Lord Require of You?”

The Rev. Norwert Hills of Greater Antioch Baptist Church, Rock Island, recognized community leaders in the audience, and the Rev. Jay Wolin of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad-Cities, Davenport, led the closing prayer.

Quad-Cities Interfaith is a nonprofit organization of 20 congregations and community groups that have come together to build local leadership and address community issues in the Quad-City region of Illinois and Iowa.

Quad-City Interfaith is a member of Gamaliel of Illinois, which works to ensure jobs for low-income people and minorities, equitable distribution of resources and civil rights for those who live and work in Illinois.

This story originally appeared in the Quad-City Times on September 23, 2012 and is available here: