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Published: Saturday, 2/10/2001

Summit to assist faith-based groups

The Rev. Francine D. Brown is working to bridge the gap between government and area faith-based organizations. The Rev. Francine D. Brown is working to bridge the gap between government and area faith-based organizations.

The Rev. Francine D. Brown, a local leader in President Bush's army of faith-based organizations, is bringing together more than 100 clergy and laymen from area service agencies to attend a conference Tuesday at SeaGate Convention Center.

Mrs. Brown, pastor of Peace Tabernacle Church, was hired by Toledo Metropolitan Mission last October to direct its new program called Bridging the Gap.

“The mission for Bridging the Gap is developing programming and special projects to assist faith-based communities and groups in northwest Ohio in becoming more familiar with and involved in the process of welfare reform and social issues,” Mrs. Brown said.

She organized the first regional Faith-Based Summit for Tuesday to boost communication and to keep clergy, congregations, and leaders of faith-based organizations in northwest Ohio informed of government programs and policy changes that might affect them.

President Bush has created an Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in the White House and is working to make it easier for religious groups to obtain federal grants to provide community services.

“I think that his heart is sensitive toward the faith-based groups to better equip them to minister to the community,” Mrs. Brown said, “and I think it is very refreshing and a great breakthrough.”

Her optimism was buoyed by a recent report from the Center for Public Justice, an independent research agency based in Washington, that rated Ohio as one of the top four states for services offered by faith-based organizations.

Tuesday's summit will include panel discussions and seminars designed to assist regional organizations in obtaining grants.

“There is funding available that these groups are not aware of,” Mrs. Brown said.

She also is working to build better communication among the clergy and lay leaders involved in community services.

Already registered are clergy and lay leaders from nine counties in northwest Ohio, Mrs. Brown said.

“Part of what this program will do is strengthen established congregational clusters,” she said. “Regardless of denomination, we can make a joint effort to help our community. I believe our biblical mandate is being called upon in a greater way.”

The Regional Faith-Based Summit runs from 8:30 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. The $10 registration fee includes lunch. Information: 242-7401.

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