Fair to showcase local ministries - Catholic Courier

Fair to showcase local ministries

Representatives from more than 40 local ministries will be on hand from 4 to 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse, 150 French Road, Pittsford, for a community ministry fair. The event — sponsored by the Greater Rochester Community of Churches, which is now doing business as the Faith In Action Network in Rochester — also will include roundtable discussions on a number of ministry-related topics.

The ministry fair is the Faith In Action Network’s inaugural event, and organizers hope it will help build connections between individuals and the many ministries that work to better the Rochester community, said Marvin Mich, the network’s president.

"This is a new year and there are a lot of problems in the world, but there’s a lot of good stuff as well. We can do great things when we work together, and that’s what this is about, doing great things for Rochester," said Mich, who also is director of social policy and research at Rochester’s Catholic Family Center.

Event exhibitors will talk about their ministries and distribute ministry handouts. The fair will feature ministries that work in a wide range of fields, including those that strive to provide alternatives to violence, help people being released from prison, and provide services to elderly, homeless, hungry or young people. Many of the ministries are affiliated with the churches that belong to the Faith In Action Network, Mich said.

Ministry-fair participants are invited to take part in the roundtable discussions, called circle conversations, that will be held during the fair. Each 45-minute conversation will focus on a specific area of ministry and will be facilitated by a leader in that type of ministry. Participants may share their own related experiences and their opinions about goals, effective strategies and helpful resources in the areas of ministry being discussed. The circle conversation topics are intergenerational ministry; urban-suburban ministry; global collaborations; re-entry and jail ministry; refugee ministry; becoming a "green" congregation; addressing hunger; racism and poverty; proactive restorative justice and nonviolence work; immigration and farmworker rights; and interfaith networking.

Mich said the ministry fair’s organizers originally had hoped to draw about 60 people to the event. Exhibitors and participants alike have shown an unexpected enthusiasm about the fair, however, so Mich said he now expects between 150 and 200 people to attend.

"It already feels like a success, with a wonderful response from exhibitors and from people leading the circle conversations," he said.

Such networking and bridge-building have been longtime goals of the Greater Rochester Community of Churches, and even played a role in the coalition’s decision to do business as the Faith In Action Network, Mich said. After engaging in a listening process with marketing professionals, board members decided the new label more accurately describes the coalition and what it does. For the past several years the Greater Rochester Community of Churches has held an annual Faith In Action banquet, which typically draws about 400 people, Mich added.

"People knew that event already, so the term isn’t new for us," he said, noting that the term also was chosen as the coalition’s new name in the hopes of appealing to a broader segment of the population. "It’s also to connect with people who might not identify with the institutional churches but want to plug into our network."

Mich said he believes the ministry fair will be a good inaugural event and will have a positive effect on the community.

"Good things will happen. Paths are going to cross. There’s going to be good conversation," he said. "I think it’s going to be a great experience."

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