By Joseph A. Darby, submitted to Post And Courier

We come before you today as community members and as clergy whose congregations are members of the Charleston Area Justice Ministry. The Justice Ministry brings diverse people of faith together to seek equity and fairness in our community and to see that every citizen of our community has equitable access to the things that make for a good quality of life.

We try to live out the imperative expressed in Micah 6:8 — a scripture embraced by many faiths: We seek to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our Creator.

It is in that spirit that we encourage the Medical University of South Carolina to purchase two mobile health units and initial staff funding for the Franklin C. Fetter Healthcare Network.

We make this request after about 1,000 people gathered and choose health care as the Justice Ministry’s focus this year. We do so after many meetings with community stakeholders and after researching best practices in other communities across the country.

We make this request because the Franklin C. Fetter Healthcare Network has an excellent track record of providing high-quality health care to underserved children, families and communities. Additional state-of-the-art mobile health units would make that work easier.

We have met with the leadership of MUSC on numerous occasions, and we are glad that those meetings have led to a renewed relationship between MUSC and Fetter, but that renewed relationship is only one step on the road to progress.

Our faiths tells us that those who have much are to better the lot of those who Jesus, in the Christian tradition, called “the least of these.”

MUSC is a state agency that has been blessed with considerable financial resources. We encourage it to use a relatively small part of those resources to purchase and initially staff these two mobile health care units.

The university’s doing so would clearly demonstrate its stated commitment to expand health care access in a number of ways.

Its doing so would show that it understands that no person, agency or entity has an exclusive premium on good ideas and that it is willing to work with the community in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

Its doing so would show that it is not an entrenched bureaucracy and is open to new initiatives — even if they weren’t its original initiatives.

Its doing so would show that MUSC has evolved and is deserving of positive regard instead of community suspicion.

Its doing so would clearly state that MUSC is about shared progress and not just good publicity.

Physical, spiritual and emotional health are priorities for all of our faith communities. It is in that spirit that we continue to advocate for MUSC to purchase two mobile health units that will enhance the outreach of the Fetter Healthcare Network.

Its doing so would affirm its respect for new ideas and live into the words of the New Testament writer James, who urged people of faith to go beyond hearers of God’s word and become doers of God’s word.

Goodwill is great, but good deeds are even better.

They’re not a matter of checking off boxes, but of doing the right thing.

The Rev. Joseph A. Darby is a member of the health care steering committee for the Charleston Area Justice Ministry and is senior pastor at Nichols Chapel AME Church. This op-ed also was signed by 623 members of the Justice Ministry.


Read the original op-ed here