MIFA—Uniting the Community through Service By Bill Pichette

MIFA Cropped

A murder and a call to action. In the spring of 1968 a young minister came to Memphis to help fight for economic equality and lost his life. In the wake of the martyrdom of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a group of Memphis ministers knew they had to take action and not just “tend to their religion.” After months of discussion, the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA) was founded. Grace-St. Luke’s was there. Grace-St. Luke’s is still there, as MIFA is a current recipient of a three-year GSL Outreach grant, one cog in the wheel that keeps this phenomenal organization moving forward.

Though those early years were a struggle, the idea that clergy and members of varying faiths could come together to help serve Memphis has proved itself in the numbers.  In their Fiscal Year 2017 (July 2016–June 2017) MIFA has supported the city’s senior citizens by delivering 554,162 lunches through Meals on Wheels, provided advocacy for the care and dignity of 4,585 seniors, and facilitated 68,274 volunteer hours of senior companionship. They have aided 3,524 families with financial emergencies, provided utility, rent, and mortgage assistance, distributed 11,131 food pantry vouchers, and coordinated emergency shelter for 795 families while helping 176 families stay in their homes through mediation. Meanwhile, MIFA has aided 252 families—over 900 persons—in finding permanent housing.

A murder and a call to action. South Memphis has several abandoned cemeteries. One of them, Rose Hill, was the site of three execution-style murders in 1996, with the bodies left under a recently buried coffin. This horrible crime was a turning point for the troubled graveyard which holds the remains of loved ones like the Lee/Robinson/Hays children, siblings and cousins lost in a house fire, civil rights activist and MLGW foe Cornelia Crenshaw, and Memphis music pioneer Charlie Burse. Pastor Leonard Dawson of Cane Creek Missionary Baptist Church led a group of clergy and volunteers to clean up, fence, and coordinate maintenance of the hallowed ground, an ongoing effort of over twenty-two years. Now MIFA has given us an opportunity to help.
Your Outreach Committee will be coordinating a cleanup and beautification project of Rose Hill Cemetery with Cane Creek Baptist Church as part of MIFA’s CommUNITY Days of Service, celebrating their 50th Anniversary. This is part of their efforts to engage 50 congregations countywide in service projects over the first two weekends of September. Our target date is Saturday, September 8—stay tuned for details!

For more information about the Rose Hill Cemetery project or GSL’s outreach to MIFA, contact Bill Pichette at bill [at] willittlepitcher [dot] com   Parishioners may find out about volunteer opportunities at MIFA by contacting Linda Marks at lmarks [at] mifa [dot] org.