“One part of the world does not know what the other suffers. Many of them do not know, because they do not care to know: they keep out of the way of knowing it; and then plead their voluntary ignorance as an excuse for their hardness of heart.”
John Wesley, Sermon 98, Visiting the Sick
Over the years, the BREAD organization has been the engine behind improvements in systems that negatively impact communities in Columbus, Ohio. BREAD (Building Responsibility, Equality and Dignity) includes members from over 40 congregations and faith ministries, including Christ Columbus and North Broadway United Methodist churches.
In small-group meetings throughout the city, people discuss issues in their neighborhood. They focus on areas where improvement is needed. Later, the body comes together at the BREAD Annual Assembly, which convened this year on November 15, to listen to problems and vote on the top three issues to research with a solution. In 2023, issues will be presented at the Nehemiah Action Meeting. Thousands attend as public officials listen directly to firsthand stories of concerns and, as expected, commit to action.
BREAD seeks improvements in available affordable housing and environmental justice.
Columbus is one of the 25 cities on a list of the most challenging places to live with asthma, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation.
“Climate change,” a BREAD member said in a house meeting, “has increased the seriousness of my asthma and allergies. I never had a diagnosis of asthma until I was 60 years old, and now, I take three medications.”
With the extreme rainfall in recent years, some Columbus neighborhoods have experienced increased flooding, which can lead to mold. BREAD’s research reveals that experts believe mold can be a major contributor to respiratory issues.
Columbus has 22% less tree coverage than cities of comparable size and development. Residents in lower-income housing likely live near highways and industries with fewer trees and more pollution. Trees help absorb rainfall and filter pollutants.
BREAD’s solution is to create a private tree-protections ordinance that will prioritize saving large healthy trees and ensure equitable access to tree coverage.
Columbus is the second-highest economically segregated city in America. BREAD, advocating for expansion of affordable housing since 2019, sees hope as Franklin County voters recently passed a bill allocating funds to expand housing for those with moderate incomes.
Quay Barnes, a member of Christ Columbus, has been active in BREAD for over 20 years. She became involved in the group simply because she wanted to do so. “How can we do justice for people who can’t do it for themselves?” she asked. Barnes encouraged more churches to become involved.
Gloria Phillips, also of Christ Columbus has also been involved with BREAD for many years and serves as the church liaison.
BREAD’s accomplishments over the years have included:
- Acquiring $1 million to expand mental health care with the reopening of The Pathway Clubhouse; and
- Receiving over $80K in federal funds for Columbus City Schools to train
staff by the International Institute for Restorative Practices to help reducesuspensions.
For more information on BREAD and updates on justice issues, follow on social media.
Written by Amy Graham, Communications Specialist