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Greater Cleveland Congregations Pledges to Use Interfaith Muscle for Social Justice

During her tenure as Dean of Cleveland's Trinity Cathedral over the past decade, Tracey Lind has seen interfaith groups come and go. Mostly go. Until recently, few suburban congregations saw the need to collaborate with city churches. And collaborations between Muslims and Jews were not common. Lind claims the newly formed Greater Cleveland Congregations, or GCC, aims to change that. She says the recession has prompted more groups to work together.

TRACEY LIND: It's now begun to affect the suburbs in ways that they've awakened, and suburban congregations want to come together. There's a new group of clergy in this town who have approached some of us who have been here a longer time, and said, "Hey, let's try again."

Jawanza Colvin is one of those new religious leaders. In 2009, he took over the helm of Cleveland's historic Olivet Institutional Baptist church, formerly led for over three decades by legendary civil rights leader Otis Moss. Colvin thinks tonight's founding assembly of the GCC will provide a powerful image.

JAWANZA COLVIN: I don't have a long history here in Cleveland, but I know anytime you can get people of different faith traditions, people of different demographics, people of different regions, that, in and of itself, is an accomplishment.

Colvin shares the chairmanship of the new organization with Rabbi Joshua Caruso of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple - and with Trinity's Tracey Lind, who thinks the GCC has the numbers to make a significant impact

TRACEY LIND: 70% of Ohioans are affiliated with a community of faith, and 38% of Ohioans actually worship on a regular basis. I don't think there has been this kind of gathering of congregations across denominational lines since the Civil Rights movement in this city.

Some 1800 people are expected to gather this evening at 7:00 at the Masonic Auditorium on Euclid Avenue.

David C. Barnett was a senior arts & culture reporter for Ideastream Public Media. He retired in October 2022.