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Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller Addresses Faith Leaders After Painful Week

Commitment to face safety and homelessness challenges with involvement from faith community.

ALBUQUERQUE – Today, Mayor Tim Keller hosted the annual gathering of faith leaders from across the city. This morning’s breakfast marked the return of the in-person tradition after two years apart due to the pandemic. Speakers from the City and the faith community prayed for healing for Albuquerque’s Muslim community, in pain after the deaths of four men, and urged collaboration in the work to address homelessness across Albuquerque.

“We saw clearly last week what we have always known in Albuquerque. Our trust and faith in each other, in our city and in our community, is what gets us through our challenges. This is a faith that cannot be legislated or written into ordinance, it is only built through sharing in real work,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “At the City, we are finding new ways to take responsibility and to act to address our challenges every day, but I have always said we cannot do it alone. I am so grateful for everything your congregations already do for the most vulnerable, and now it’s time to step forward again on a homelessness crisis that has become much more urgent. I want us to walk forward together without fear, ‘for God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, and love, and discipline.’ Timothy 1:7.”

“We must start acting as we speak. We say that the most vulnerable among us are our neighbors, now we must walk that walk. We can’t just say it. Believe it,” said Pastor Bruce Jefferson of Mount Olive Baptist Church. “I challenge every faith leader here today to be like the good Samaritan, who took in his neighbor in need when others simply walked past. This is our problem today. As the bible says, ‘the harvest are plentiful, but the laborers are few.’ The challenge of homelessness is all around us, but today those truly engaged to do the work are too few. This is the group to step up and change that.”  

Faith and City leaders joined Mayor Keller in addressing the group to outline tangible ways that the faith community can target their efforts. This includes providing physical spaces like day shelters, coordinating their volunteer work with service providers, or utilizing their property to house people.

The Mayor, Chief Medina, and faith leaders held space to acknowledge how the events of the past week have affected the families of those lost, and the city as a whole. The City reiterated its commitment to protecting faith institutions so that all feel safe to pray and worship.

“There is nothing but gratitude from our community,” said Tahir Gauba, the Islamic Center of New Mexico’s public relations director. “It has been an emotional rollercoaster and we appreciate all the support we received from the interfaith community.  I want to thank Mayor Keller and Chief Medina for their leadership from top to bottom. Together we have made clear that this violence does not represent our city. Thank you for standing with the Muslim community to reject and denounce violence, and to love and care for those who are hurting now.” 

The City’s ongoing dialogue and collaboration with the faith community is an essential part of building a strong, supportive, and inclusive Albuquerque.

Full video of the interfaith event is available here.