Responsible Banking Initiative draws clergy support and large crowd

Yesterday, leaders of L.A.-based synagogues, mosques and churches spoke at rally in support of the Responsible Banking Iniative, a pending city ordinance which aims to increase local banks investment in small businesses and communities and seeks to prevent home foreclosures.

An estimated 800 people attended the rally, according to a spokesperson for L.A. Voice PICO, the organizing group behind the event, which took place at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Los Angeles.

Speakers included Rabbi Ron Stern of Reform congregation Stephen S. Wise Temple and Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann of IKAR, a synagogue that operates out of the Westside Jewish Community Center. Toward the end of the 90-minute program, Stern stood up, from his seat onstage, to lead everyone in a closing prayer, alongside Father Margarito Martinez of Our Lady Our Talpa, a Catholic church in Boyle Heights, and Pastor Byron Smith of Curry Temple, a Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Compton, CA.

“So you’re going to hear a prayer from one who’s brown, one who’s white and one’s black,” Stern said, which caused the people in the audience, mostly silent and attentive throughout the evening, to laugh.

“The power of this city comes from the times that we stand together like this,” Stern added, in a more serious tone.

The people in the audience represented over 20 synagogues, churches and mosques, all apart of L.A. Voice PICO, an interfaith, community-organizing network with congregational membership.

IKAR congregant Joseph Levy attended for personal and political reasons. “A lot of people I know directly and indirectly, parents and friends, [have] been in the situation of losing their homes,” Levy said. “There’s a lot of injustice and imbalance in the system and it’s kind of encouraging to see a community come together from a grassroots perspective.”