Reverend Susan Schalzbaur serves on the board for Missouri Faith Voices. She sat down to talk to us about what makes Missoruri Faith Voices so powerful and how it motivated her to be in seminary and put her #faithinaction.
I’m Reverend Susan Schmalzbaur. I’m currently on the board of directors. I became involved with Missouri Faith Voices because my pastor at my church got an email and he told me about this group that was happening in our community. And it was about really working for justice in Missouri, and he thought I’d be interested, so I went to the meeting.
And there were all kinds of pastors and people from the community, people from the Jewish community were there. People from all walks of Christianity were there. And it was people who were concerned about really doing and working for justice in Missouri. They were concerned about things like making sure people got healthcare because currently people did not have access to the healthcare that they needed.
Missouri would not expand Medicaid like the rest of the country and so we were meeting on those kinds of things. It was born because people saw pain, people saw their neighbors in pain. People seeing that people didn’t have access to healthcare. I don’t know how many pastors that I met through my work that they had. Members who were in debt and when they found out why, they discovered that they had fallen victim to predatory lending. There were things that were unjust. And so people came together based on their faith to say something about that. And so faith voices gave space for people to really see these issues, see these issues for what they were, and look for solutions.
And one of the really beautiful things about Missouri Faith Voices. Is just the model of organization that the people closest to the pain are the ones who are needed to be responsible for the solutions.
Missouri Faith Voices gave people closest to the pain, the space, the opportunity to use their voices. And so through this work I’ve seen people share their stories to the people who make decisions and their stories move people in a way that is powerful. It’s strong, it’s mystery, it’s everything. And I think, you know, that’s why Missouri Faith Voices, it’s that connection that you don’t have to leave your faith at the door. When you see something that needs to change, that your faith can have something to say about what is going wrong in our society. That faith has space in the public square. That’s really why Missouri Faith Voices was born, because our faith has something to say about how our state, our country, our cities are run.
I think my proudest moment in Missouri Faith Voices was seeing a woman who had been a victim of predatory lending be able to tell her story in front of the city council, and when she was speaking, you could hear a pin drop because it was only her voice.
Continuing to take the next step, continuing to be a place where people are able to voice their faith in connection with public policy. Continue engaging, persevering, continuing to stay for that next step. For that next time, continuing to stand up. What does it mean to me? Well, what it means to me as it was a place where I first heard my call to ministry the strongest. I don’t think I would be a pastor right now. I would not be in seminary right now without the experience of interacting with pastors who took their faith seriously and concerns about conditions for their neighbors here right now. So I guess it means my call.