Bringing the City Together in Unity
COSILoveYou’s mission is to unite and ignite the church to love the city of Colorado Springs. One way that we achieve this is through hosting an annual event, the Leadership Gathering, which took place last Thursday on January 30th. Local pastors and civic leaders, including Mayor John Suthers, were invited to share a meal and discuss how the faith community can engage with pressing issues in Colorado Springs.
COSILoveYou Board Chair, Yemi Mobolade, talked about the vision and atmosphere of the event: “The Leadership Gathering is an opportunity for a diverse group of church leaders to come together, converse, and catch up. There’s a buzz in the air when you walk in the room, with conversations and laughter – it truly feels like a reunion.” One of the most important aspects to the Leadership Gathering is diversity – in church size, denomination, and culture. “Society understands that Sunday is the most segregated day of the week,” said Mobolade. “Breaking barriers in the same room tells a powerful story. A lot of people think we’re divided, but we love each other and get along.”
The Leadership Gathering is a unique place for faith and civic leaders to be in the same room and intentionally learn from one another. It gives pastors the opportunity to take direction from civic officials about how the Church can engage with the city. Civic officials in attendance this year included Mayor John Suthers, the Chief of Police, and select City Council members.
This year, the Leadership Gathering focused on how to encourage partnership between the Church and the city, and how to move forward from current divisions in our community. Mayor Suthers emphasized the crucial role that churches play in the lives of young people, particularly teenagers, and how mentoring can have a great impact on our community. He encouraged churches to step into mentorship roles and invite young people into their spaces – to show them the importance of school, leading a law-abiding life, and faith. Mayor Suthers explained, “You can get involved on a macroscopic level in talking to your congregations, but ultimately you have to ask them to get down to the microscopic level of one-on-one because that’s where the real difference is made.”
When asked about how to move forward from divisions, Mayor Suthers acknowledged the need for a diverse police force. “It’s important for our law enforcement to be reflective of our community,” said Suthers. He encouraged minority pastors to support city efforts through raising up young leaders to join the Colorado Springs Police Department and serve in positions of city leadership. He also spoke of efforts to enhance training for the Police Department through the Illumination Project, with the goal of promoting communication between citizens and law enforcement.
Mayor Suthers applauded churches for their immense support of local nonprofits, both financially and through volunteerism. He encouraged pastors to continue in their support of nonprofit efforts through the many existing volunteer opportunities in our city. El Paso County Commissioner, Longinos Gonzalez, spoke of the urgency for churches to get involved in foster care, and the need to invest in the Southeast area of Colorado Springs. Dr. Michael Thomas, Superintendent of School District 11, also emphasized the need to come alongside students to help them succeed. Mobolade explained the importance of churches taking initiatives from civic leaders: “It’s important that we let the city direct us. Each church has different priorities, but we don’t want to fight amongst ourselves or spread so thin that we can’t focus. So we’re asking the mayor for a call to action.”
The Leadership Gathering advances connections between a diverse group of churches, and between churches and the city. It catalyzes pastors to participate in long-term engagement with the city, and creates conversation around the Church’s involvement. At COSILoveYou, we urge those in our community to continue to strive for unity by reaching across theological and cultural barriers to make a tangible impact in Colorado Springs.
To get involved with a nonprofit supporting the city’s initiatives, check out the links below:
Love Your Neighbor
Springs Rescue Mission