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Foundation supports efforts by area churches

CONECT, Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut, a multi-faith, multi-ethnic, urban and suburban member organization of 27 diverse congregations and lay leaders in Fairfield and New Haven counties, has received a competitive grant of $25,000 from the Fairfield County Community Foundation.

The grant will be used to support leadership development, training and capacity building by the non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting social and economic justice in Connecticut.

The organization began five years ago when a group of founding pastors and rabbis first began to gather monthly to explore the vitality of their congregations and the struggles of their members. They quickly realized that, in addition to their individual congregations’ programs to serve the needs of their own communities, they could create greater impact by combining these efforts to work at a higher level of policy change.

Soon lay leaders and other congregants joined with their clergy in leadership training programs and meetings with ever-larger numbers of congregants to “tell their stories” and identify issues impacting individuals and families to distill areas of common concern.

The organization’s Founding Assembly held last fall was attended by 1,500 people, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other government, civic and business leaders. A platform of current issues that were found to concern so many families and individuals — health care and long-term care insurance, protection from predatory lending practices, equity in education, job training, and drivers’ licenses for the undocumented — was introduced.

“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, Fairfield County Community Foundation program director. “We are pleased to help these leaders raise awareness of and address the major challenges facing their community.”

CONECT founder and co-chairman the Rev. Dr. Anthony Bennett, Pastor of Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport was instrumental in obtaining the grant from FCCF. His fellow co-chairman is the Rev. Jim Manship, of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Parish in New Haven.

“We are tremendously grateful to the Fairfield County Community Foundation for its support as CONECT moves ahead to build its active membership to work together for the benefit of all Connecticut citizens,” Anthony said.

CONECT information is available at WeConect.org or WeConectnow@gmail.com.

Information about the Fairfield County Community Foundation can be found at fccfoundation.org.

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