Over 500 people turned out for the ISAAC Banquet at the WMU Bernhard Center Saturday, to hear Dr. Rubén Martinez speak and to honor Lifetime Achievement Awardee Rev. Robert Rasmussen and awardees Northside Ministerial Alliance, Hispanic American Council, and Youth Violence Prevention leader Venessa Collins-Smith.

“We are here to leave a better social order than we found,” said Dr. Martinez, MSU professor of sociology and a nationally known scholar. “Government’s purpose is to promote the common good.” “Do we want to live under an authoritarian regime that attacks the free media, promotes fear and hate, threatens the justice system, and promotes militarization to protect its own wealth?”  “As members of a democracy it is up to us to ensure the course of humanity tilts toward a higher civilization.”

ISAAC leaders called the crowd to action in four ways.

  1. Spread the word about the ABC’s of Safe Sleep for Babies: Alone (sharing the room, but not the bed), on the baby’s Back, in a Crib without pillows, toys or blankets, and join Cradle Kalamazoo in other ways to reduce the very high infant mortality rate for black babies in Kalamazoo.
  2. Encourage human resource leaders from your workplace to register with ISAAC, 341-4213, for the June 3 Critical Cultural Competency Workshop on recruiting and retaining people of color.
  3. Invite 8th-12th graders you know to join Future Leaders for Peace and become agents for change, starting June 17, 1 pm, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, where the ISAAC office is.
  4. Build the Beloved Community by joining ISAAC in ways to get to know each other better across all the divisions among us.

“We are the World” was sung by Rev. Christopher Moore, Assistant to the Pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. “Colors of the Wind” was sung in Spanish by Nathaly Ninoska Olavarria Valencia Anderson from Hispanic American Council.  “Awesome” and “I need you to survive” were sung by ISAAC Singers from Christian Church – Disciples, First Presbyterian Church,  Grace Covenant Ministries, People’s Church, Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, and Westminster Presbyterian Church, led by Minister Dorla Bonner of Galilee Baptist Church.

Blessings of the food were given in the Jewish tradition by Paul Solomon from Congregation of Moses and in Unitarian-Universalist tradition by Rev. Rachel Lonberg from Peoples Church. The closing prayer in the Muslim tradition was given by Imam Hafiz N. Akbar from the Kalamazoo Islamic Center.

Sheriff Rick Fuller and Captain Stacey Randolph recognized all the elected officials, clergy and other community leaders at the banquet. The Rev. Seth Weeldreyer from First Presbyterian introduced the singers, and Ms. Lori Mercedes-Santiago introduced the keynote speaker.   The Rev. Dr. Randall Warren from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church encouraged everyone to “be a GEM” and Give Every Month to the work of ISAAC.

State Rep. Jon Hoadley presented proclamations signed by the Governor, State Senator Margaret O’Brien and all the State Representatives from our area to Rev. Robert Rasmussen, the Northside Ministerial Alliance, the Hispanic American Council, and Ms. Venessa Collins-Smith.  Rev. Lisa Batten from Wesley Foundation and Dr. Charlae Davis, ISAAC Executive Director gave the ISAAC awards to those awardees and to the Fetzer Institute, the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, the YWCA and WMU Catering.  Elder Doug King, pastor of Grace Covenant Ministries and president of ISAAC, served as MC. He was joined on stage by the clergy of the 23 ISAAC member congregations and two member organizations (NAACP and Hispanic American Council.)

ISAAC is an interfaith organizing network of congregations and strategic partners working together to create an equitable community in Kalamazoo Community. Call 269-341-4213 for more information.

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