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Gov. Blunt unveils initiative to strengthen ties with faith-based charities

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

9/27/07 – Missouri Governor Matt Blunt says he wants to strengthen ties between state government and faith-based charities that provide social services.

A five-person team will head the Faith-Based Missouri initiative. Blunt says they'll travel around the state and meet with leaders of religious groups in order to improve relations.

"I think that our churches and places of worship and religious charities are anxious to help, anxious to help meet those needs. I see it when I see response to natural disasters...but we want to insure that we're maximizing our full potential to work together to meet very real needs," Blunt said.

The governor emphasized that he doesn't support the notion of someone being proselytized in order to receive services.

"It's really a lot about choice, insuring that choice exists. Conversion will often occur, and nobody should apologize for it when it does, but it's not about forcing anybody to make a religious decision," Blunt said.

The members of Faith Based Missouri are:

* Dr. Reynaldo Anderson of St. Louis, Assistant Professor of Education at Harris-Stowe University, and a member of Saint Peter African Methodist Episcopal Church in St. Louis.

* Rev. Andrew Rollins III of Kansas City, an ordained Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

* Sheriff Greg White of Jefferson City, sheriff of Cole County, MO, and an ordained Baptist minister.

* Ed Martin of Jefferson City, Chief of Staff to Gov. Matt Blunt, and former Director of the Human Rights Office for the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis.

* Angel McCormick Franks of St. Louis, Director of the Office of Supplier and Workforce Diversity.

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