CONECT

Reflection from CONECT Co-chairs on the Conflict in the Middle East

CONECT was founded almost 12 years ago as a non-profit, non-partisan, membership organization made up of religious and civic institutions: urban and suburban, multi-faith, and racially and ethnically diverse, in New Haven and Fairfield Counties of Connecticut. We organize a broad, diverse, and powerful mix of faith and community institutions to build relationships, develop leadership, take action, and win concrete change on a broad range of social, racial, and economic justice issues that affect our member congregations, institutions, and communities.  

Our work is often slow, as we believe in the power of relationships built through deep listening, story telling, and the ability to hold a wide variety of views. Our work is made even more powerful, and challenging, when it is interfaith. There are many things that separate our faith traditions, but we unite to identify and take public action on the social issues that we mutually agree upon to make a real difference in the lives of people in Connecticut, something all of our global faith traditions inspire us to do. 

This past week, we spent hours in individual conversations locally, hearing pain, grief, fear, and worry for the lives of loved ones living in Israel and the Gaza Strip. We heard many in our communities feeling misunderstood, not valued, under siege, deeply connected to people thousands of miles away, with a visceral fear that “my people,” “my family” are about to be annihilated. We heard many stories, experiences, and emotions among our Jewish and Muslim leaders – mourning, anger, and anguish, fear for loved ones in harm’s way, worries about already mounting hateful backlash against each community here in the US. We are disgusted by and condemn the bomb threats against Congregation Mishkan Israel and the Bridgeport Islamic Community Center and stand in full support of their right to worship freely and safely. In addition, we are grateful for the inspiring joint statement published by two of our members, the Bridgeport Islamic Community Center and Congregation B’Nai Israel, last week.

Last night, during a two-and-a-half hour Strategy Team meeting, after a weekend of worshiping in our individual faith communities, we came together as one to listen again and strive for a way forward. To honor the voices, experiences, and communities that have historically been and continue to be the most marginalized, the Strategy Team agreed that if we could not come to a unanimous statement, we would not issue one. Instead, the Strategy Team came to a consensus for the Co-Chairs to share a reflection about where we have been and where we are now.  We, as Co-Chairs, are holding the tensions of our membership, our own personal convictions, and our commitment to remaining in relationship. Our power to act publicly for the common good is strengthened when we choose to remain in committed relationships across all lines of difference, even when it is most difficult, especially when it is most difficult

We recognize this reflection may be unsatisfying to some. Additionally, we acknowledge that we are speaking as two Christians on issues that most directly affect Muslim and Jewish peoples. Nonetheless, we feel compelled to offer this reflection on both the opportunities and challenges of CONECT’s interfaith work. We bear witness to what the best of interfaith work can be throughout our nearly 12-year track record of wins in our state. Two weeks ago, we witnessed how powerful interfaith work could be as we gathered at member synagogues to learn and engage in anti-racist relational power built on the pillars of trust, time, and togetherness. Now, we witness the most challenging aspects of interfaith work, balancing our commitment to our faith traditions and faith communities, while continuing relationships across our diverse membership. We remain committed to ongoing one-to-one relational meetings within and between our congregations leading up to our time together in our November regional gatherings.

As we have always done, we remain committed to engaging in local peaceful, democratic dialogue. We remain committed to listening to the voices of those directly impacted. We pray for an immediate cease fire, an end to all violence and terrorism, the safe return of all civilian hostages, and the immediate entry of humanitarian aid, water and food supplies to civilians in Gaza. Finally, we pray for a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. 

Respectfully,

Rev. Philippe E. C. Andal, Ph.D., Co-Chair
Senior Pastor, Community Baptist Church

Elizabeth Keenan, Ph.D., Co-Chair
Friends of CONECT Action Caucus

Press Statement: CONECT Applauds House Passage of Clean Slate fix, HB 6918, Calls for Quick Senate Vote

HARTFORD, CT [May 17, 2023] – Last night, H.B. 6918: An Act Concerning Erasure of Criminal History Records was voted out of the House in a 149-1 vote. 

Rodney Moore, a tri-chair of Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut’s (CONECT) Criminal Legal Reform Team, shared the following statement in response to its passage:

“Thank you to Rep. Steven J. Stafstrom for leading on this and the full House for passing this important technical fix bill to get the Clean Slate law up and running. In 2021, when Clean Slate was signed into law, Connecticut gave its returning citizens hope for a real second chance.  

Every day that Clean Slate is not fully implemented is one less day, one less month, and one less year for people to seize the opportunities that this state agrees they deserve. Justice delayed is justice denied. H.B. 6918 is an important and necessary step towards fulfilling those promises made. We urge the Senate to vote now and quickly send this measure to the Governor’s desk.”

More information on Connecticut’s Clean Slate law can be found here.

Press release

Press Statement: CONECT Applauds the State’s Updated Form and Petition Process for Pre-2000 Convictions Eligible for Clean Slateupdate 

When this state passed one of the country’s most robust Clean Slate laws, it was a promise to our neighbors that they were done paying for sins they have long since atoned for. As a state, we have not yet made good on that promise, but this new form will make it substantially less challenging for folks with convictions older than January 1st, 2000.

Press release

CONECT Plans Jan 29th Kick-Off Assembly

Save the date — Sunday afternoon, Jan 29th at 3pm, CONECT leaders will gather for a Kick Off Assembly at the Bridgeport Islamic Community Center (703 State St., Bridgeport). We will continue our work on Clean Slate, Mental Health Crisis Response, and Fair Education Funding with key legislative and community allies! Flyer HERE. Register HERE.

2022 Candidate Assembly – Oct 23

Join hundreds of CONECT leaders on Sunday, Oct 23rd at 3:00pm for our 2022 Candidate Assembly at Congregation B’nai Israel (2710 Park Ave, Bridgeport) or on zoom. Candidates for Governor (Lamont & Stefanowski), Secretary of State (Rapini & Thomas) and Treasurer (Arora) are CONFIRMED to attend. Masks required & in-person attendance encouraged! Register at: bit.ly/Oct23Assembly