Area people of faith ‘Conect’
NEW HAVEN >> It was standing-room only in the basement of St. Rosa of Lima Catholic Church on Blatchley Avenue recently as members of about a dozen congregations and houses of worship came together to pledge support for one another.
Representatives from Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut held the event as a show of solidarity and provide information about how people can get involved in protecting their rights and fighting back against the divisions that they said have arisen following the election of President Donald Trump.
“We gather in the midst of the anxiety of these times,” said the Rev. Anthony Bennett, of Mount Aery Baptist Church, a co-chairman of the evening. “We’re here tonight to stand together.”
“We will keep on organizing,” Bennett said. “There’s nothing wrong with getting angry and organizing at the same time.”
Bennett said minority groups have been fighting for decades to be counted as free and equal in the United States, and this was another step in the fight for the rights of those who feel threatened by the new president.
CONECT aims to bring people of varying faith backgrounds together and organize to end injustices and stand up for the rights of the vulnerable, according to the group’s mission statement, which was read by the Rev. James Manship, pastor at St. Rosa of Lima.
“Are we powerless?” Manship said in his remarks. “Don’t believe for one second that we are.”
Representatives from other faith communities also spoke, including George Markley, from Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport.
He cited the threats against the Jewish Community Center in Woodbridge and several other centers around the country recently as just one example of the anti-Semitic feelings and rhetoric since the election.
Markley said when people of the Jewish faith have turned to Washington, D.C., for help and empathy after these threats, “we find only a man who is interested in waging a war against the press.”
“We in the Jewish community are frightened,” Markley added. “We will not allow evil to triumph. The time to resist is now and we will do it together.”
Members of the St. Rosa of Lima congregation spoke about their personal fears, given their immigrant status or the status of their loved ones.
Among those was Magaly Asto, who spoke about her fears of potential threats to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which was enacted under former President Barack Obama and serves those who were brought to the United States as minors.
“If DACA is cancelled, I will feel devastated and betrayed,” Asto said. “My crime is simply to remain in this country and build a better life for myself.
“I’m honored to call the United States of America my country,” she added. “This is where I want to stay, to live, and to raise a family.”
The people gathered in the basement of the church were encouraged to fill out cards with contact information so they could be kept up to date on other opportunities to be involved.
In addition, CONECT organizers asked for volunteers to help with putting together legal toolkits so people could access them to be aware of their rights in the city, for volunteers to assist in social media campaigns, and to go back to their own congregations and spread the word about CONECT.
“We ask you to be ready when you are called upon,” said Rabbi Evan Schultz of Congregation B’nai Israel. “Each of you will have your moment.”