PHOTO | Montgomery County

Town Hall Meeting for Faith Leaders (PHOTOS)

Leaders of various faith communities in Montgomery County gathered at the Council Office Building on Sept. 16 for an annual town hall meeting.

PHOTO | Montgomery County

PHOTO | Montgomery County

Faith leaders had a chance to talk about specific issues including plans to extend Pre-K programs, affordable housing, land use, property tax exemption for religious use, and programs for the needy and seniors.

“I always say ‘if you really want to know what’s going on in Montgomery County don’t ask a politician; ask a pastor because it’s much more likely that members of your congregation will share with you what’s weighing heavy on their minds,’” said Montgomery County Council President George Leventhal.

(In the photo at the right) Habib Ghanim, Sr., the president and CEO of the USA Halal Chamber of Commerce, makes a point and asks a question as the Montgomery County Council hosted this meeting for faith leaders.

More than 100 faith leaders attended the meeting in Rockville. Several topics were discussed, but affordable housing was the most talked topic of the night.

“I’ll be blunt: I don’t think we nearly do enough. … and the fact that the rest of the country refuses to do anything is what makes us look really good; but really good is not sufficient. We don’t have affordable housing to deal with the people who are here today,” said Councilmember Marc Elrich on affordable housing.

Councilmember Roger Berliner said he would rather take “a more constructive approach.”

“Go down to the Silver Spring Library and know that on that property, we will have one of the largest senior citizen affordable housing units in our county,” Berliner said.

Faith town hall 9Faith leaders also asked about plans to extend services for Pre-K programs in the county, and shared their disappointment on the fact that Montgomery County Public Schools removed religion references from its calendar.

Councilmember Nancy Navarro said the council has taken “a baby step” toward establishing a children’s trust but “it doesn’t happen overnight.”

Navarro also hopes to make community use space more affordable and even proposed an app to access Montgomery County resources to help those in need.

Leventhal recommended facilitating discussions among the faith community to help find space to worship.

Faith leaders and councilmembers said they hope to work together to find solutions for issues that impact the community.

MyMCMedia’s Aline Barros was live tweeting (see below) throughout the meeting.

 

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