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Having a little faith; In an effort similar to Project 17, congregations invited to brainstorm ways to improve life in the region

Thursday, October 4, 2012

People of all denominations in Southeast Kansas are invited to a presentation aimed at making a "strong connection" between local health and leadership from the faith community, a news release said.

"Leadership and Faith: Southeast Kansas" is a three-session program offered by the Wichita-based Kansas Leadership Center and designed for people of faith who believe they are called to build stronger, healthier, more prosperous communities, a news release said.

Fort Scott will be the site of gatherings on Oct. 24, Nov. 13-14 and Dec. 4.

"It's basic leadership training, but people of faith may have a different viewpoint," Project Director Sue Dondlinger said. "It's really all about getting people more involved in tackling tough things going on in the region."

A meeting last spring in Pittsburg attracted 28 people and she hopes to get at least that many at the Fort Scott events.

The faith project began in December 2008, but has expanded "all over the state" in the past year.

It involves the same leadership training as Project 17, a regional initiative to help improve the quality of life and economic opportunities for Southeast Kansas, "just on a smaller basis than those in Project 17 will receive," Dodlinger said.

"So it's all going to go hand in hand," she added. "It takes the basic leadership model and we really focus on what people in church congregations can do that makes sense for churches to be doing to make the community better. Sometimes it's different than what you'd expect the community to be involved in."

Meetings were held at five locations last spring, including Pittsburg, Chanute, Iola, Eureka and Independence, and three, including one in Fort Scott, are scheduled for this fall.

In Pittsburg, those who attended last spring's meeting are pondering whether to launch a large project, or having lots of people tackle smaller ventures, Dodlinger said. Chanute participants are talking about chipping away at people falling into poverty.

Registration is available online at http://kansasleadershipcenter.org/index..... Program fee is $25, but scholarships are available to those for whom cost may be a barrier. Deadline is Friday, Oct. 12.

The program will also be offered in Coffeyville and Howard. "We see tremendous outcomes from programs connected to faith communities," Ed O'Malley, president and CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center, said in a news release. "We believe it's because the participants -- members of congregations -- have a very personal connection to the idea of improving the world around them."

The multi-faith component here is very important, Dondlinger said in the release. "A significant part of building the kind of leadership capacity necessary to make progress on the issues of Southeast Kansas involves honing collaboration skills and finding a shared purpose," she noted.

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