ST. LUKE’S TO HOST KICKOFF EVENT FOR CENSUS AWARENESS EFFORT
NW Philadelphia parishes join POWER in outreach to community
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Germantown, and the Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Chestnut Hill, are joining forces with POWER to get the word out about the importance of being counted in the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census at a kickoff event at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, March 21, 2020, at St. Luke’s, 5421 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia.
Volunteers from the two parishes and throughout the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania will fan out in underserved Germantown neighborhoods to inform residents about how their community benefits from helping ensure everyone is counted. Data from the decennial census helps determine funding for social services and redistricting for voting districts at the federal level, and many local funding and policy decisions, including school districts, planning and zoning decisions, police staffing and a host of others, at the state and city levels.
“St. Luke’s is well aware of the importance of the census count through our work with at-risk, in-need people who come to our community meals twice a week,” St. Luke’s rector, the Rev. David Morris said. “As a part of our new Café St. Luke’s ministry, we connect local folks with resources they need, and we know how vital federal money is for SNAP benefits, for housing, for health insurance and for support for children and individuals with disabilities. We need to let people know that they must be counted, or they will be discounted.”
St. Martin’s rector, the Rev. Jarrett Kerbel echoes the importance of the census count’s accuracy in these areas of the city. “We know that undercounting is a threat in areas where access to information, technology, literacy, and trust are low. The people most at risk of being undercounted and discounted are those already suffering disproportionately. The hope is that an accurate count will be part of turning the tide in these neighborhoods.”
Volunteers will work in pairs, initially in Germantown neighborhoods. At the event March 21, volunteers will receive a map of the area they will cover, information about the census to leave with residents, and a brief training. Coffee and snacks will be provided. Afterward, volunteers can discuss their efforts and participate in prayer. St. Luke’s and St. Martin’s are eager to expand their efforts with community partners throughout the Philadelphia area and to share their model with the wider Episcopal Church. The same awareness tactics are just as needed in rural communities as in urban areas – anywhere that there is poverty, lack of technology, lower literacy, and lower trust are at risk.
Philadelphia interfaith community organizing group POWER, a member of the national Faith in Action network, is emphasizing the Census count and voter registration as areas to concentrate on this year, and is supporting the parishes’ efforts with information and coordination with other community partners.
Contact Joel Davis, co-chair, St. Luke’s Social Justice Committee
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
5421 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19144