Interviewed: Nancy Maeker
Written by: David Bipes
Nancy Maeker currently serves as Executive Director, A Minnesota without Poverty, but her passion for this work was born years earlier. One story from her life that prompted her to get involved was that she lived in a very poor, unincorporated community outside of Dubuque, Iowa. She and husband, Rodney, saw first-hand what the devastating effects of poverty were on the lives of children, parents and the whole community. She has never forgotten that experience.
Maeker's involvement began as bishop's associate in the Saint Paul Area Synod. Eleven years ago the synod faced the age-old question of charity vs. social justice. Thankfully, they didn't let the discussion stop there! In 2004 the Saint Paul Area Synod wrote up a set of statements that everyone could agree on: "A Common Foundation: Shared Principles for Work on Overcoming Poverty." This document became the bi-partisan bill leading to the Legislative Commission to End Poverty in Minnesota by 2020. She believes this whole process was Spirit-led. Since then she has been involved at the synod level, at the state level, and finally as Executive Director of the separate non-profit organization to end poverty in Minnesota by 2020.
Maeker's experience with A Minnesota Without Poverty has shown her the long-term impact of public policies on people's lives - for good or for ill. "We need to work diligently for sound public policies that have a positive impact on people's lives, now and into the future," she says.
When asked how this work has impacted her life she responded: "I am more passionate and convinced that poverty hurts everyone and that ending poverty will be good for everyone. I see God at work through many committed people working to end poverty. I also see that God has provided enough for all to have enough, if we all do our part."
Interviewed: Cindy Tintner
Written by: Carole Whaley
Several times a year, on Friday evenings after work, Cindt Tintner boards a bus in downtown Minneapolis and heads to the River of Life church in northeast Minneapolis for an hour of work with the Loaves and Fishes dinner sponsored by Bethlehem.
"I think God works in a very direct way," she says. "Bethlehem is blessed to be able to provide a free meal for 150 people."
For the meal, a volunteer crew from church supplies food, service and clean-up. During her shift, Cindy enjoys serving cups of milk and water the most.
"I wanted to make a connection to other people," Cindy says. We get a wonderful mix of people, from junior high school kids to 90-year olds, to single moms with their kids. God is at work providing a meal of good healthy food."
Cindy also observes God's influence among the diners as they eat and chat. "As I stand there serving, I recognize many people who I have seen before," she says. "Their interaction with each other and how much they care for each other is God at work. I see the older people concerned about their buddies and checking in on them."
"It's a meal out for them where they can concentrate on food and fellowship," she says.
Her efforts at Loaves and Fishes and church illustrate a common theme at Bethlehem. "We show our love for Christ by helping others and I've been able to put that into action for the past 20 years," she says.
In 1997 members of Zion Lutheran Church purchased one of the most crime-ridden buildings in south Minneapolis and named it ZOOM (Zion Originated Outreach Ministry). The 22-unit building was transformed into a program that serves families experiencing homelessness in a transitional housing program, families who are moving from welfare to work, and market rate housing for working families. Bethlehem was one of the partner churches that helped make this transformation happen. Today, ZOOM House continues to be one of our mission partners.
Bethlehem has made a commitment to adopt this local school by providing 15 mentors during this first year. Soon we will explore other ways Bethlehem can support this local school and our community. You can Reach out through PEACE locally and educate the next generation. For more information, contact Steph Smith or Pastor Beth.