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CONECT Leaders Honored!

Spring has brought a series of honors and awards to a number of CONECT leaders and institutions.  CONGRATS to all of them!

Pearlye “Lulu” Sams Allen – leader from Mount Aery Baptist Church – was honored by the Greater Bridgeport Chapter of the Negro Business & Professional Women’s Club on May 18, 2014 with the Sojourner Truth Award (their highest honor).

Sandra Carolina & Deborah Dean – leaders from Bethel AME Church – were also honored by the Greater Bridgeport Chapter of the Negro Business & Professional Women’s Club on May 18, 2014.

Min. Odell Cooper – leader from Mount Aery Baptist Church – was elected the first-ever President of the Alumni Association of the Black Ministries Program (BMP) at Hartford Seminary and led the first ever BMP Alumni Reunion & Banquet on May 15, 16 & 17, 2014.

Liz Keenan – leader from St. James Catholic Church in Stratford – was awarded the Robert E. Jirsa Service Award by Southern Connecticut State University on April 14, 2014. The Award is given annually to a full-time faculty member who has made extraordinary contributions and demonstrated outstanding leadership in his or her service to the university.

Fr. James Manship – pastor of St. Rose of Lima, New Haven and co-chair of CONECT – will receive the Bishop Joseph Donnelly Award from the Archdiocese of Hartford, Office of Social Justice Ministry (to be awarded at an annual dinner in Oct. 2014).

Kim Washington – leader from Community Baptist Church & founder of Mothers Demand Action – was honored by the Greater New Haven Black Social Workers Association with an award at their May 17, 2014 Harambee Awards Breakfast.

St. Rose of Lima Church, New Haven – founding member congregation of CONECT – will receive the Charlie Schlegel Award for Cooperative Parish Sharing – from the Archdiocese of Hartford, Office of Social Justice Ministry (to be awarded in an annual dinner in Oct. 2014).

CONECT takes action on healthcare system woes

Rev. Timothy Jones, pastor of Community Baptist Church in New Haven, leads a closing prayer and blessing for Rev. Bennett before his departure to Europe.

Rev. Timothy Jones, pastor of Community Baptist Church in New Haven, leads a closing prayer and blessing for Rev. Bennett before his departure to Europe.

On March 3rd, CONECT’s Healthcare Team took action to demand better performance and accountability from officials at Access Health CT, at the state Department of Social Services’ Medicaid office, and from the state Healthcare Advocate.  50 CONECT leaders turned out and heard moving stories from four people who have struggled with the new healthcare system.  State Sen. Gayle Slossberg, chair of the Human Services Committee, and Sen. Joseph Crisco, chair of the Insurance Committee, both attended and praised CONECT for its action on these issues.

On March 4th, Rev. Anthony Bennett, pastor of Mount Aery Baptist Church and co-chair of CONECT, departed for Germany as part of a multi-state Metro IAF delegation taking action on gun violence.  On March 5 & 6th, in Nuremberg, these leaders set up a booth inside of one of the world’s largest gun shows targeting law enforcement buyers as part of the Do Not Stand Idly By strategy to use the public buying power of our cities, counties, and states to press gun manufacturers to invest in smart gun technology and to tighten their distribution systems to cut down on illegal guns flowing into our cities.

In the photo above, Rev. Timothy Jones, pastor of Community Baptist Church in New Haven, together with other CONECT Clergy leaders says a prayer over Pastor Bennett prior to his departure at the end the March 3rd Healthcare Session.

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Blumenthal, Himes Mark March on Washington Anniversary with CONECT

160 leaders from across CONECT and Mount Aery Baptist Church gathered together on Wednesday night, August 28th, to mark the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.  Rev. Anthony Bennett, pastor of Mount Aery and co-chair of CONECT, chaired the gathering, framing the night not only as a chance to remember but also a time to gather strength for the on-going fight for racial and economic justice.

A diverse group of six leaders shared stories and reflections with the gathering:

  • Ms. Dorcas White, a member of Mount Aery and a veteran of the Civil Rights movement,
  • Rabbi Jim Prosnit, a leader with CONECT from Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport,
  • Ms. Therese LeFever, a leader with CONECT from St. James Catholic Church in Stratford,
  • Mr. Alan Feldman, a leader with CONECT from Congregation Beth El in Fairfield,
  • Ms. Jeimy Zepeda, a leader with CONECT from St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in New Haven,
  • Mr. Blair Dawson, a younger member of Mount Aery.

Rev. Bennett and Mr. Donald Day, a long-time Mount Aery member and retired Bridgeport firefighter, then raised two current-day concerns for US Sen. Richard Blumenthal and US Rep. Jim Himes:

  • How will they respond to the recent Supreme Court ruling striking down sections of the Voting Rights Act?
  • What would they do to rectify the seemingly biased system of jury selection here in Connecticut?

Both Himes and Blumenthal spoke and responded, stressing their own desire to rectify these problems and at the same time expressing their realistic sense that both will take a long-term effort to be fully addressed.  Blumenthal, attending a CONECT gathering for the first time, recognized the organization and commented how its ability to bring diverse groups together was similar to what made the Civil Rights movement a success.

Rev. Bennett closed out the evening by getting every one on their feet to sing “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around, ” an old Civil Rights song.  As CONECT leaders filed out, they reported feeling “energized” and “privileged” to share the meaningful and moving night with such a diverse group.  One leader from Westport exclaimed, “we need to do this more often!”

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, State Sen. Andres Ayala, and Rev. Cass Shaw, the new president and CEO of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport

In the News:

CONECT Helps Cut Anthem Rate Increase Down to Size with Public Hearing.

Using a deal CONECT helped forged back in 2011 between the CT Department of Insurance and the Office of the Healthcare Advocate to allow the Healthcare Advocate to call for public hearings for significant health insurance rate increase requests, we were able to push for a public hearing on Anthem Blue Cross / Blue Shield’s 12.5% rate increase request.  The hearing happened in late June, with our public comments and a story shared by a family from Temple Israel in Westport, and by late July, the Department ruled that Anthem’s request was excessive.  After revisions ordered by the Department, Anthem’s request of a 12.5% average rate increase was revised to an average .1% decrease.   Given that this ruling covers some 66,000 policies, it’s safe to say we helped save CT consumers millions of dollars.  To see our Op-Ed Piece in the CT Mirror on the value of public hearings in the rate review process, click here.  To see coverage on the hearing and ruling, click here, here, and here.

Gov. Malloy Joins CONECT in Do Not Stand Idly By Strategy on Gun Violence at June 2 Delegates Assembly

Read all about it:



CONECT Clergy Gather to Welcome Rev. Bennett Back from European “Gun Safety Trade Mission”  

Rev. Anthony Bennett, co-chair of CONECT, joined an 11-member, multi-state delegation of leaders from Metro IAF affiliate organizations that traveled to Europe to engage gun manufacturers around the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign, which is pressing manufacturers to invest in smart gun technology and tighter distribution systems.  See the March 13, 2014 CT Post New Bites piece hereFor more information on the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign, click here.  For a detailed report on the team’s trip to Germany, click here

CONECT Healthcare Forum on Eve of Affordable Care Act (ACA) Rollout — 176 people came out to hear from Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and others about how the ACA will be implemented in Connecticut on Monday, September 30th at Congregation B’nai Israel.  Watch coverage of the event on News 12 CT
here.

CONECT wins Safer Driving campaign – CT passes legislation allowing all CT residents to get Drivers’ Licenses regardless of immigration status! 

National and local coverage includes:

Advocacy Group Scores,” Wall Street Journal, May 30; PDF Version

CONECT Release May-29-13

Senate Sends Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants Bill to Gov’s Desk,” CT News Junkie, May 30

Senate Approves Driver’s Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants,” Hartford Courant, May 30

Conn. Senate approves immigrant driver’s licenses,” CT Post, May 30

Interfaith Group Takes Leading Role on Political, Civic Issues,” Hartford Courant, May 27

House Approves Driver’s Licenses For Undocumented, ” Hartford Courant, May 23

Undocumented could get driver’s licenses,” CT Post, May 23

House Green Lights Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants,” CT News Junkie, May 23

“Weighing IDs For Illegal Immigrants,” Wall St. Journal, May 6

“Right choice to let license law live on” CT Post, editorial, May 1

 

Other Press Coverage:

Crimes against Immigrants in Fair Haven addressed by community leaders in CONECT held at St. Rose of Lima Church  New Haven Independent article.

$25,000 Grant Awarded to CONECT!September 30, 2012, The Fairfield County Community Foundation awarded a competitive grant of $25,000 to support the work of CONECT to advocate policies for social and economic justice. The grant will be used to support leadership development, training, and capacity building. “CONECT plays a vital role in bringing together community leaders of all faiths to serve as a united voice for their congregants,” said Nancy von Euler, FCCF Program Director. “We are pleased to help…

Upcoming Events:

CONECT Fall Assembly — Thursday, October 23rd, 7:00 pm, St. James Catholic School Gymnasium, 50 Harvey Place, Stratford, CT.

Check with your congregation’s Core Team for more details.  For a flyer with more details, click here.

CONECT Clergy Caucus Meeting — Thursday, November 13th at 12:00 noon.  Location TBA.

 

Please Consider a Tax-Deductable Gift to Support CONECT Today!



CONECT is a non-partisan, multi-faith organization of 28 diverse congregations throughout Fairfield and New Haven Counties, who have organized as one community, to affect change in the areas of social and economic justice and policies for the common good. Please contact us for more information about the Founding and future activities.  We train leaders in the art of public life to give power to our voices and create strong congregations and community partnerships.“The first skill we learn in community organizing is how to listen; how to engage community members in conversations. We have learned that true change, in our own lives, in our families and in our communities, emerges out of the relationships we create with one another.”  We look forward to meeting you!