October 2011: From Rev. Linda Olson Peebles. Nearly 900 citizens gathered at a local high school in Woodbridge, VA on October 30th at a massive action organized by Virginians Organize for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) to call on banks to assist families struggling with the housing crisis in the area. VOICE, a coalition made up of 42 religious congregations and civic organizations in Northern VA, invited Senator Warner; Ken Wade, an executive from Bank of America; and Jerry McCoy, VP from JPMorgan Chase to participate in the event.
There were eight northern Virginia Unitarian Universalist (UU) clergy at the action: UU Church of Arlington’s Rev. Linda Olson Peebles, Rev. Carlton Elliott Smith, and Rev.Michael McGee; Bull Run UUs’s Rev. Nancy McDonald Ladd; UU Church in Reston’s Rev. Erin Gingrich; UU Congregation of Fairfax’s Rev. Mary Katherine Morn and Rev. Laura Horton-Ludwig; and Accotink UU Church’s Rev. Scott Sammler-Michael. There were more than 150 UU leaders in the crowd.
Rev. Nancy McDonald Ladd gave a stirring Call to Action at the closing and said: "For we are faithful and powerful people. We do not need to pass the buck. This is our job, and it is your job and we are not afraid. This is our time to make right what has gone so terribly wrong, and banks, it is your time too." Calling out the specific representatives from the various local financial institutions, she indicated the crowd and asked: "These are the leaders who have faith enough to never give up. These are the leaders who see the suffering of the people and do not back down. These are the leaders who will never stop working to uncover the sources of injustice. These are the leaders who stand with Senator Warner, the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, with organized people and organized money. These are the leaders who stand with one another, whatever it takes. These are the leaders who will make a way, no matter what. These are the leaders who will bind up the broken and build a new city where once there were only ashes and broken glass. Will you stand with us?"
At the event, Bank of America announced they would commit approximately $216,000 to fund non-profit mortgage counselors while JP Morgan Chase agreed to meet with VOICE leaders before Thanksgiving.