Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert met for the first time Thursday with the Mayor’s Faith and Community Task Force, the latest iteration of a clergy advisory board started by Mayor P.J. Morgan in 1989.
Stothert asked the 37 Christian pastors and a rabbi at the meeting to help her identify problems and craft policies to address them.
She appointed the Rev. Kevin McDonald, associate pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in west Omaha, as chairman. Co-chairman is the Rev. Bruce Williams, pastor of north Omaha’s Hope of Glory Church and founder of Williams Prepared Place, an addiction recovery center.
The group met in a Mayor’s Office conference room.
Stothert asked the clergy to identify community issues that need attention. They cited the breakdown of the family, crime, racism, illegal immigrants’ difficulties and a need for more jobs for people being released from prison.
“This group is going to be very helpful to me,” Stothert said after the meeting.
She expressed optimism that the diverse group will be able to work with her to find solutions that help.
McDonald noted a number of efforts underway, including the Omaha Empowerment Network and Omaha 360.
The clergy at the meeting Thursday included no representative from Omaha’s small but fast-growing Islamic population. Carrie Murphy, a Mayor’s Office deputy chief of staff, said that she didn’t know if any of Omaha’s Islamic organizations were among the 80 or so groups that the Mayor’s Office invited but that their involvement would be welcome.
The group will meet quarterly. Its next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 27.