Last Saturday, 10/15/11, at our Crossroads Career Leaders Conference in Atlanta, U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis spoke to us by video message:
“I know you’re here today because taking care of one another is one of our most sacred national traditions. Thank you for keeping that tradition alive. Thank you for giving back, for refusing to give up hope, and for lifting up your neighbors.”
As our audience gave her message applause, I thought “Wow! Who would have thought that we would be in a ‘faith-based partnership’ with the U.S. Department of Labor?” On the other hand, why not? Our country has a serious employment crisis, and as the Secretary said, it is time for “all hands on deck.”
How did this happen?
Earlier this year, The White House established the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that forms and supports partnerships between government at all levels and nonprofit organizations, both secular and faith-based, to more effectively serve Americans in need. The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships coordinates 13 Federal agency Centers for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Each Center forms partnerships between its agency and faith-based and neighborhood organizations to advance specific goals.
A couple of months ago, a friend of mine invited me to participate in an every other week phone conference with the Deputy Director of the the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Hearing that he was planning a symposium in Cleveland, I introduced him to career ministry leaders in the area.
Later we began talking about a symposium in Atlanta, which led to Secretary Solis speaking where she met jobseekers and ministy leaders at one of our member churches, Cascade United Methodist Church. Thanks to CCN ministry leaders Valerie Jones who coordinated the event at Cascade, as well as serving as a panelist along with Katherine Simons from Roswell United Methodist Church and Marilyn Santiago from Ben Hill United Methodist Church.
A week later, Secretary Solis offered to prepare a video message for our annual leader conference, and of course, we sent her a thank-you note! (see below) Moreover, we thank God as He is at work in and through us to help everyone find jobs, careers and God’s calling.
What happens next?
That depends mostly on us as Crossroads Career Network. We have already had great experiences on local levels putting on job fairs with DOL career centers, as well as cross-referring jobseekers to one another.
May I recommend that you as a jobseeker, career explorer or ministry leader connect with the local CareerOneStop near you? See what they have to offer and also how you can help them. In the meantme, we have begun discussions with national and regional DOL representatives explore how we can partner.
As we seek the next right steps, may I encourage us to consider our values and our stewardship principles:
- Be faithful stewards with whatever God gives
- Don’t worry about what He does not give
- Take every thought captive to Christ
As Secretary Solis said,
“We want to create more opportunities to work together on employment referrals, job fairs,
online workshops and other activities. There is power in this synergy. The bottom line is that we’re stronger
when we work together. President Obama and I are so grateful for your commitment. We look forward
to working together in the months ahead to secure the future
of our economy, our communities and our country.”