Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri

With one week to go before Missouri’s primary election, faith and civic leaders gathered Tuesday in Springfield to urge voters to say “yes” to two ballot issues.  One would expand Medicaid in Missouri, and the other would impose a $5000 annual fee on new short-term loan businesses in the city of Springfield.

Leaders from Baptist, Methodist and non-denominational church groups said their faith compels them to act justly.  They said the working poor currently don’t have a way to pay for health care and that what they call “predatory lending” traps people in a cycle of debt.

Michele Skalicky

Hours before President Donald Trump said he’ll stop separating families at the border, a couple of hundred protesters stood along the south side of E. Sunshine, starting in front of U.S. Senator Roy Blunt’s office.

The event was organized by Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri and Families Belong Together, a coalition of local organizations and faith leaders.

Jeremy Sullivan used his lunch break to protest the separation of children from their parents.

Michele Skalicky

An event in Springfield Monday had various speakers touting the need for a cap of 36 percent on interest rates on short term loans in Missouri.

Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri called it the Legislative Spring Break Press Conference.

Members aren’t happy with proposed legislation by Missouri State Representative Steve Helms, chair of the Subcommittee on Short Term Financial Transactions. 

Michele Skalicky

At times it seems that civility is dead.  People are constantly at odds with one another, and shouting matches are all too common, especially online.  Social media is often used as a battleground where people who disagree on various issues fight with words.   People who were once friends no longer talk because their political or other beliefs are different.  

Despite that, there are many things happening in the Ozarks that show civility and attempts to understand one another are, in fact, very much alive.

Scott Harvey / KSMU

On the eve of President Donald Trump’s visit to Springfield to speak on tax reform, two groups sounded off on his policies and called for moral leadership.

Earlier Tuesday, it was the Missouri Democratic Party asking Trump to reverse course on attempts to dismantle Obamacare.

Phil Snider
Scott Harvey / KSMU

Local faith leaders are condemning racist acts by hate groups that occurred Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Members of Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri on Monday specifically called out white supremacists, nativists, nationalists and Nazis before at least 75 spectators inside the Council of Churches of the Ozarks’ Springfield office.

Bishop Edward Rice of the Roman Catholic Church of Southern Missouri said he was “nauseous” when he saw the images from over the weekend in the media.   

Ryan Welch / KSMU

Rep. Lynn Morris says his bill attempting to cap the interest rates charged by payday lenders will have to wait until next year.

Morris, a Republican from Ozark, spoke in Springfield Friday a week before lawmakers end this year’s legislative session. His bill would place a cap of 36 percent on what payday and title loaners can charge customers.

“It’s going to take more than a year to pass this bill, but what I promise to you all is I will make this one of my priorities.”

Royce Reding
Michele Skalicky / KSMU

Update 3:30 pm: A vote on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has been delayed, as NPR reports. There were not enough votes to pass the bill as of Thursday afternoon, although a vote could come Friday.

Original story:

Scott Harvey / KSMU

Unity was among the keywords recited during an interfaith service Friday morning in Springfield just as inauguration festivities were beginning in Washington, D.C.

Roughly two dozen faith and community leaders offered prayers, readings and musical selections inside historic Washington Avenue Baptist Church at Drury University. Many called for strengthening goodwill toward others amid a divisive political climate.

Rev. Mark Struckhoff said the purpose was to “pray for love to reign.” 

City of Springfield

A resolution passed by Springfield City Council asks the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to address “potential deficiencies” in its proposed rule regarding pay day and car title loans.

Members of Southwest Missouri Faith Voices talked to council Monday night about the problems they say high interest loans cause people already living in poverty.

Michele Skalicky / KSMU

Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri organized the event to draw attention to people who have taken out pay day or title loans and who can’t get out of the cycle of debt.  They want the Missouri legislature to cap the interest rate on those types of loans at 36 percent.  According to Mark Struckhoff, executive director of Council of Churches of the Ozarks, the average rate in Missouri is 451 percent.

Jennifer Trogdon spoke at the rally—she knows firsthand how difficult it can be to get out from under a high interest loan.