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November 21, 2019

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Letter: Bluffton Area Ministerial Association endorses ACRTA’s levy on May 7

In Scripture we hear of a time when Jesus was asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  The response was, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.”  While the one asking the question understood loving God, there was a follow-up question, “And who is my neighbor?”

Christians of all times and generations have been left with this very same question throughout history.  We are in a constant state of asking that question with regards to who our heart, soul, strength, and mind should love as ourselves.  Is it the literal neighbor who resides in the home next to mine?  Is it the neighbor who sits next to me in the pew at church?  Is it the neighbor who lives across town?  Is it the refugee, the homeless, the destitute, the downtrodden, the oppressed, the enslaved, or the stranger?  Who is my neighbor?

The answer, of course, is yes to all those listed and more.  As Christians we are called to care for all of our neighbors, no matter the form they take or the function they fulfill in our lives.  Yet on rare occasions, the response to the question of, “Who is my neighbor?” is given a very clear and concise definition.  Such is the case with the recent Allen County Regional Transit Authority’s (ACRTA) request for financial support from all of its neighbors.

In 2018 there were 1,303 trips made to Bluffton for elderly members of our community and persons with disabilities in order to transport our neighbors to their appointments, treatments, and to provide a quality of life which all members of Allen County may enjoy.  This service, which relies on recently reduced state and federal funding in order to function, is seeking a small sales tax increase on the May 7 ballot that will not affect the cost of utilities, rent or groceries, in order to continue serving our neighbors with the critical and essential service of transportation.

Our neighbors, the elderly and disabled persons who rely on this service for their quality of life, are in need of our love and support in order for such services to continue.  Families who rely on this service in order to work, to pay their bills, and to care for their loved ones—our neighbors—are in need of our love and support.  So it is with this humble yet great love and support that the pastoral leaders of the Bluffton Area Ministerial Association (BAMA) would like to express their endorsement of the ACRTA’s sales tax levy on the May 7 ballot.

We would encourage any and all people of faith to seriously consider offering their own love and support to this issue, as it is a way in which we might express our love to our neighbors; providing for them as God has provided for us.  Were we to ask the question, “And who is my neighbor?” would we not be told to look to those in our community who rely on such public services for their quality of life?  Let us love and support our neighbors as we have been called to do and support the ACRTA on May 7.

With Blessings,
Bluffton Area Ministerial Association
Rev. Jeremy Mann, Pastor of Emmanuel United Church of Christ
Wanda Stopher
Theda Good
The Rev. Elizabeth Kelly
Carol Inkrott
Nancy R. Schweingruber
Rev. Karol Farris, Pastor of Bluffton Presbyterian Church
Rev. Tim Wilmetti
Rev. Carol Clements