Warren pastor speaks at ACTION banquet

YOUNGSTOWN — Second Baptist Church pastor Todd Johnson of Warren said it is important for people to come together and be part of a courageous community

Johnson, who was the keynote speaker at the 17th annual banquet for ACTION (Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods) held at the Basilica of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, said what makes a courageous community is confirming the dignity of every human being in that community.

“This is what ACTION stands for with equality, fighting against racism and injustice; speaking up for the poor even if it costs you popularity; speaking the truth to power and government officials even if it damages your relationship. These are some of what a courageous community is about,” Johnson said.

He said courageous communities have people who affirm the dignity of every human being.

ACTION recognized institutions and individuals for contributions to the community. The annual Frances Kerpsack Awards were presented to Jeffrey M. Magada, founder and executive director of Flying High; Mike McNair, editor of The Buckeye Review; Ian Beniston, executive director of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation; and Sam Covelli, owner and operator of Warren-based Covelli Enterprises.

Johnson, who spoke on “Rooted to Soar” said the event was amazing, with the many different people honored by ACTION for their work in the community through work, contributions and philanthropy.

“It was a wide diversity of people who are concerned with ACTION and its agenda,” he said.

The faith-based community organization also had guest author Sheryl St. Germain, who read excerpts from her collection of essays, “Fifty Miles,” which treats challenges arising from addiction.

Proceeds from the event help underwrite ACTION’s key initiatives to enhance the quality of life for residents of the Mahoning Valley. The organization is dedicated to confronting ongoing challenges such as racism, predatory lending, rebuilding the future for returning citizens and mitigating problems related to the food desert that affects scores of urban neighborhoods.

Organizers said ACTION seeks to unite faith groups, schools, neighborhood organizations, tenant councils and other non-profits to work for social justice. Goals include creating a safer community, improving the quality of education, providing a voice for young people, supporting the rights of immigrants and strengthening communities in the Mahoning Valley.

ACTION is based on the premise that residents themselves hold the solutions to the problems facing their communities. ACTION’s organizing approach involves training and developing local leadership to identify common issues.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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