All Churches Together
The EMI Community Development Program
When invited, our staff trains leaders in church-based organizations to help their communities address practical problems—such as escalating homeowner’s insurance prices, drugs in schools, paving dirt roads, building sidewalks, eradicating public blight, and many other issues. We have seen this training yield important results in both low-income and affluent communities.
Started by Bishop Manuel Watson in 1992, ACT II attacks systemic causes of poverty and economic disparity. It teaches church members and close neighbors how to work together to engage the systems that impact their communities. Through 25 years of dedicated efforts, ACT II has had a $41 million+ impact on Baldwin communities.
ACT II also manages EMI’s race reconciliation initiative and is a formative partner in the Baldwin County Path to Peace Movement. Because many churches work together across race lines, multiracial relationships continue to form. These relationships help integrate the personal networks of different communities, which leads to greater employment opportunities for many.
What We've Accomplished
- More than 300 miles of rural dirt roads paved around the county
- Cleaned up an iron-contaminated, rural water system, all while reducing water rates Installation of a water system that now serves hundreds of families in several rural North Baldwin communities
- Brought several nonprofit housing programs together to form Repair Baldwin, which has provided home security, safety, access and/or housing-saving repairs to more than 350 homes in little over 3 years
- Wrote and initiated passage of the Alabama Property Owners Insurance Clarity Law which provided the data that shows coastal homeowners insured losses have been lower than the rest of the state, despite hurricanes
- Helped redesign, to the benefit of homeowners, the Alabama Insurance Underwriters Association (better known as the Coastal Wind Pool), bringing actuarially sound premiums back to the area
- Provided sole initiating leadership for multi-state workshops that acted on a state legislative resolution, urging “the Gulf Coast counties in Alabama, Alabama's Department of Insurance, and the Alabama Executive Office to explore and consider the formation of an Interstate Re-Insurance Coastal Band and/or re-insurance entity. ” These workshops attracted the Alabama Department of Insurance, representatives from Departments of Insurance or state Wind Pools from six other states, grassroots organizations from seven states and, joining by phone, the staff of US Congressmen from five states. (Alabama Senate Joint Resolution SJR22 in 2014 )
Completed 3 miles of sidewalk, primarily for the safety of students walking to and from school. As a secondary result, the ability to walk safely in a neighborhood tends to build community as people explore on foot.
Voluntary drug-testing in schools
Established 3 new neighborhood polling places to allow easier access to voting for these communities. This need was overlooked by officials until people in the community lobbied for better voting access.
Helped form police-community partnerships to combat a growing drug-trafficking problem that has contributed to the formation of small gangs and several instances of gun fire.
Spearheaded efforts to add stop signs and lower speed limits in dangerous or confusing roadways in the community. The additional signs and increased speed limit enforcement have slowed traffic in these high-risk areas.
Racial reconciliation affinity groups and public events / Facilitated a racial reconciliation-focused march and worship event where about 25 churches of different socio-political make-ups came together to build meaningful relationships with neighbors across political and racial divides. Act II helped clergy from these churches set up Affinity groups, smalls clubs organized around common interests, to encourage individual relationship building. There are groups of all kinds—bridge, gardening, Bible study, even frisbee—but they all have an affirmative, multiracial outreach component.
Organized community clean-ups in two neighborhoods of need several times in the past two years.