Churches offer ‘beacon of hope’

Emerging group to enlist the help of multiple communities


After the Long Island Council of Churches’ executive director was ousted in September, a new group, the Long Island Alliance of Churches, has formed, officials of the group say, to serve underprivileged and marginalized members of society.

“We can be a beacon of hope for our communities,” said the Rev. Lynne Hall, the LIAC secretary, who is also the pastor of the Church of the Good Shepherd United Methodist in West Hempstead.

Hall left the Council of Churches after the group’s executive director, Dyanne Pina, was asked to step down from the organization.

“In a world that’s filled with so much despair and anger, we can provide a place for people just so they know all their needs can be met, and to be a voice for the voiceless,” Hall said, speaking of the Alliance.

The group is now reaching out to religious institutions, community organizations and hospitals to help identify those who need the most help.

Pina said of her depature from the Council of Churches, “I was informed by members of the executive committee that due to the financial situation of the organization, they had to eliminate the position of executive director. It was a bit surreal, but once I got the impression that they didn’t want me to come back, it was time for me to move on.”

“If they are doing God’s work, we wish them well,” said Hank Boerner, spokesman for the Long Island Council of Churches, speaking of the new Alliance.

Now working as the executive director of LIAC, Pina described the opportunity as a “new birth” to serve others in the hope that the group can spark change throughout Long Island.

“I am faithful that this organization will facilitate a synergy that will boldly and loudly pump the heartbeat of hope, giving a new meaning to the word — confidence,” Pina said. “I believe faith will move this organization from concept to fruition, and I believe faith will transform a person for the transformation of a people.”

Activities that LIAC would like to implement include a rehab and re-entry program for incarcerated adults and juveniles, job training and a food pantry.

“I knew that this type of agency that we’re starting now can be of great benefit and bring great hope to people who are needing just some basic things, beyond just food and security,” said the Rev. Luonne Rouse of the First Church of Baldwin United Methodist.

“We’ll bring the strengths of everybody together to help one another along the way,” Rouse added. “That’s why we’re looking not just at targeting churches and individual donations. We want to go higher.

“We’re looking and asking for individuals who are part of a foundation, not just to give us money, but [to share] the foundations of their success, because they have some expertise that we want them to bring to our [endeavor].”

Using the Alliance’s integrative approach, Rouse said, the group wishes to expand its four-member board, and that it doesn’t just want financial contributors, but people willing to volunteer, and share their valuable knowledge and experience with those who need it.

With the goal of promoting diversity, Pina said, LIAC is confident that it will receive support from different religious groups in a collaborative effort.

“It would be such a powerful thing for us to come together and work alongside each other in a world where there’s so much divide,” Hall said. “I’m sure there’s going to be different opinions, but I think that if we stick to our core goals, I don’t see any obstacles. This can only get better.”

Additionally, Pina said, she thought it would be good for community leaders from each area to meet with the group, reporting on specific issues they want to share. “We want to get as much input as we can,” she said. “It’s not us and them, it’s we.”

LIAC’s headquarters will be at the Church of the Good Shepherd United Methodist.

“This is a great idea,” said Rouse. “And as Victor Hugo said, ‘I don’t think anything is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.’ And somehow the actions of the Long Island Council of Churches gave fuel to this idea, and we just believe the time for it is now.”