Sometimes it will be a church, sometimes a mosque, sometimes a synagogue — but once a month religious leaders and religious workers, mostly from McAllen and a sprinkling from Edinburg, Mission and Hidalgo, gather.
This is the Greater McAllen Ministerial Alliance (GMMA) and they come together to support each other, learn and enjoy fellowship.
“We have members from the Roman Catholic tradition, several flavors of protestant traditions, Unitarians, the Jewish and Muslim traditions. We also have missionaries, chaplains and lay religious workers,” said Rev. Linda Whitworth-Reed, co-pastor First Presbyterian Church, current president of GMMA. “We are an interfaith alliance of religious organizations serving the greater McAllen area. Membership is open to clergy and other designated leaders of faith communities and specialized ministries (such as Comfort House) in our community.
“We’re learning about the different social services which are available to people in the community and everyone is not aware of their attributes,” she said. “We’ll have our monthly meetings at different venues each month to give the members new experiences. We’ve had them at Mujeres Unidas, Hope Family Health Center and different religious centers.”
Recently they had a panel discussion of the different health clinics available and learned about El Milagro, Hope Family Health Center and Nuestra Clinica giving the members tools to better help those they serve. Spalding for Children and the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance have also made their services known.
“For me, a pastor of a downtown church, there are people who come to our church with needs and I wasn’t always aware how I could help them. These sessions with the GMMA are a info gathering time and helps us all do our jobs better,” Rev. Whitworth-Reed said. “On the other hand, it helps us learn of the needs of organizations providing for people in our community and we’re able to take those needs back to our own faith communities to help garner them support.
“What people fail to realize so often is pastors and religious workers carry quite a load themselves. Any religious leader is subject to receiving a phone call 24/7 that someone is in the hospital or is in need of care,” she said.
“I think the thing I’d really like to stress overall is how we’re really seeking to build community across apparent divides and finding out that what divides us is so minor compared to what unites us. I think this does more to promote peace than anything.”
Their two major events are the Martin Luther King Day celebration and the Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Service.
This year the Community Thanksgiving service will be held Tuesday, Nov. 23, at Temple Emanuel with Rabbi Steven Rosenberg at 4300 Chai, located just north of the Nolana Denny’s. The service will be at 7:00 p.m. with McAllen Mayor Richard Cortez taking part in the service. Refreshments will follow.