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Tuesday, August 9, 2022
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This Is Our Parish

Headline News: “Downtown Faith-based organizations forced to close due to increased violence, safety concerns, and high cost of operation!” This is not an actual news headline but it very well could be soon. As our congregations address the spiritual needs and social concerns of those who live and work here, we wrestle with the realities of crime, poverty and the high cost of “doing business” downtown.

Like most citizens of our territory, we believe that downtown revitalization is important, and that a multitude of factors must come together to have a positive impact on the quality of life in the downtown district. Religious institutions have historically been places of hope and instruction. As our congregations continue to employ pastors, rabbis and other professional leaders, operate schools, sponsor community outreach programs, and maintain our historic buildings, we are investing in the Charlotte Amalie community. Our ministries are made possible because our members and friends support us with their prayers and voluntary service as well as their financial gifts. Millions of Dollars circulate within the local economy because of our commitment to accept the high costs of operating downtown. Imagine the impact, both economically and spiritually, if these same schools and houses of worship were forced to close.

The challenges we face today are as diverse as the people who make up our congregations. Many of the families within our congregations no longer live downtown and arranging transportation to and from Charlotte Amalie is a real concern. Our members find it difficult to find parking that is both close enough to meet their needs and likely to avoid theft and vandalism, or ticketing. Members have been victims of repeated acts of violence and crime in our streets requiring additional precautions be taken to insure their safety. We all are dismayed because of the increase in homicides within our territory, especially due to gun violence.

Unfortunately theft, vagrancy, vandalism, and violent assaults also greatly impact the safety and security of our houses of worship and the people we serve. We continue to cooperate with law enforcement to sustain a social climate that is hospitable to all of our people. We believe that visitors and residents alike appreciate the living legacy of our historic religious institutions and wish to maintain access to them. We want the elders of our community to live in peace and enjoy the gifts of old age. We want our children to look ahead to a bright future filled with dreams of great accomplishments and with commitments to give back to the community that has raised and nurtured them through the years. We want these islands to prosper socially and spiritually as well as economically and politically and subsequently, we see ourselves as part of Charlotte Amalie’s resurgence!

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The proud legacies of those who founded our congregations continue to inspire us as we face the significant obstacles and opportunities that are before us. As leaders of these various historic faith communities, we stand together as stakeholders in rebuilding, and we are joining together to effect change!

Headline News: “Downtown Faith-based organizations spark community revitalization and help make Charlotte Amalie one of the most vibrant, culturally rich, and sought after places to live, work or visit in the world!” This is not an actual news headline but it very well could be soon. Please, join with us in helping to realize that vision!

Rev. Harvard Stephens—Frederick Evangelical Lutheran Church
Pastor Jeffrey Neevel—St. Thomas Reformed Church Rev.
Franklyn Manners—Christ Methodist Church
Pastor Winnelle Kirton-Roberts—Memorial Moravian Church
Pastor Mikie Roberts—Memorial Moravian Church
Rabbi Shimon Moch—Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas
Bishop Ambrose Gumbs—Episocopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands
Rev. Wesley S. Williams, Jr.—All Saints Cathedral
Monsignor Jerome Feudjio—Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral
Capt. Dan Hazeldine—Salvation Army of St. Thomas

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