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Faith Communities Gather for MLK Day

IOWA CITY, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) -- Members of several separate Christian, Muslim, and Jewish congregations gathered at St. Mark's United Methodist Church on Sunday night to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a little early, and to call attention to the need for interfaith and community dialogue.

Leaders with the Consultation of Religious Communities organized the annual event, they said, to continue Dr. King's work.

"We just think that this is an important thing to do because the work that Dr. King started in not done yet," said St. Mark's Pastor and co-organizer Arnette Pint.

The interfaith community wants to celebrate King's achievements, but also to look forward together as one group to address issues of inequality, including poverty.

"I'm a firm believer that none of us can do it alone. It's just too big a problem, and poverty is on the rise. And minority populations are probably the most impacted by that," Pint said.

That work is as important now as it ever was, Pint said.

A recent Iowa Watch study showed that poverty in the African American and Latino communities in Iowa has increased since the 1970s. Today, 43 percent of African Americans live in poverty -- a 20 percent jump in 40 years.

"This does not have to be how we live," said Consultation of Religious Communities president Charlie Eastham.

At the service, the Consultation of Religious Communities took up a collection for Family to Family, an organization that connects new area families to a mentor family to help them find community services and events.

Bringing together different faiths in that way, Eastham said, helps breakdown barriers and foster the understanding that all people are the same.

"As we are more compassionate and understanding of each other, we can live more fully in peace, and we can, all of us, realize our dreams and aspirations," Eastham said.

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