FAN’s Annual Dinner was Sunday, November 19, 2017
Our hearts are still full and our resolve strengthened by the good spirit and success of our Annual Dinner on November 19. More than 450 people gathered in Renton to celebrate Faith Action Network’s statewide, interfaith movement for justice and raise critical funds to sustain our work for the challenges ahead. The theme “Justice is What Love Looks Like in Public,” as quoted by Dr. Cornel West, guided the evening.
People from 20 different faith traditions, unions and community groups were inspired by the message of keynote speaker Washington State Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu: “Our union as a nation is more durable than the forces of divisiveness,” she said. “We refuse to be isolated. We refuse to be divided; we must refuse the invitation to embrace hatred. People of good will – people of faith – must show up with a voice in the here and now because those optics matter for each of us, our children and for the future. Visibility matters.”
Travel author and FAN supporter Rick Steves joined us to encourage support of FAN’s mission. He promised to match up to $40,000 in gifts, with a passionate belief that advocacy is the best response to these times: “Advocacy is charity quadrupled. Think of the opportunity to speak up for the common good. It’s just common sense to give back.” Audience members responded to his encouragement by raising $53,175 that night.
FAN awarded community leaders for their social justice work. Yakama Nation chairman JoDe Goudy was awarded for his international leadership to dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery. In 2016, he traveled with a delegation to Pope Francis to ask him to revoke the 15th century papal bulls that caused domination and dehumanization of Native Nations and peoples, and still impact case law and operations of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. He reminded the attentive crowd that the Creator does not put us here for domination. Together the assembly commemorated the 30th Anniversary of the 1987 Apology Letter from faith leaders to Pacific Northwest tribes, with original signers Rev. Lowell Knutson and Rev. Jim Halfaker present, along with the family of Bill Cate.
Yakama elder Patsy Whitefoot was also awarded for her work on the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. She spoke of her own experience in a boarding school, and how important it is to heal the trauma from that history as a way of repairing relationships and making a different way for the children. She brought with her five girls from the Iksiks Washanal’a “Little Swans” Dancers to dance a welcome for those gathered.
The Muslim Association of Puget Sound received an award for their interfaith leadership during this most difficult year, with Imam Joban and President Khadeer accepting on behalf of their community. Michael Ramos and the Church Council of Greater Seattle received an award for their tireless efforts in organizing sanctuary and rapid response networks this year. And Keystone United Church of Christ pastor, Rev. Rich Gamble, accepted an award for his legacy of service as a founding board member of FAN, as well as the Justice Leadership Program.
FAN Co-Directors Rev. Paul Benz and Elise DeGooyer celebrated the victories of the past year and unveiled FAN’s state legislative agenda for 2018. They invited the attendees to bring their voices and concerns to Interfaith Advocacy Day on February 20 in Olympia and engage in the work of FAN through workgroups and events.
FAN Governing Board Co-Chairs Rev. Carol Jensen and Rabbi Aaron Meyer presided over the ceremonies, setting the context for looking back on how faith communities have responded to the new challenges of the past year. Rev. Jensen sent the crowd forth with a chant “love will not be defeated” as we educate, organize, speak out, march, advocate in the halls of power, vote, stand together and not give up—love will not be defeated.