Why Build Bridges?
When a community has no bridges between diverse neighborhoods and people, it breeds misunderstanding, fear, and anxiety. Hampton Roads’ future depends on the bridges we build now.
People of faith and their partners in the community, when acting courageously for the good of neighbors and neighborhoods, are ideally suited to build bridges through honest dialogue and committed action.
Born out of the racial unrest around the country following the 2014 shooting deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and other African Americans, HUBB exists to build such bridges in Hampton Roads by creating avenues for listening, learning, and acting together in the pursuit of racial justice and healing.
Today, HUBB is made up of more than 100 women and men representing various religious congregations and other community partners from across the region. We gather monthly for dialogue and reflection, and we support this website and social media for the purpose of serving as an information hub to promote various events, resources, and trainings related to racial justice and interfaith understanding.
To build bridges of hope and trust amongst an interfaith, interracial network of clergy, congregations, and community leaders in Hampton Roads.
We do this by:
Learning from our history and from each other
Responding to racial and religious conflict through dialogue and action
Engaging our congregations, institutions, and the broader community in the holy work of racial healing and interfaith understanding.
In early 2015, Dr. Antipas Harris and Rabbi Jeffrey M. Arnowitz started a project called Hands United Building Bridges, or HUBB for short. The organization was created as a way to respond to the racial unrest and distress across the country. We began as a multiracial, interfaith discussion group that met regularly to address race and race-related issues effecting our local communities and the nation. Our first meeting was twenty concerned and curious leaders around a table from three different faiths and a myriad of backgrounds. We now comprise more than 75 faith leaders, civic leaders, law-enforcement officers and others, representing a full spectrum of faiths and a beautiful tapestry communities.
In 2020, we are intentionally expanding our programming to include more people from our congregations and beyond, and our aim is to become a “hub” for the broader community, promoting a variety of events and activities related to race and racial justice. Many individuals and organizations in our region are doing terrific work in this regard, and our intention is to amplify these voices and opportunities to help them reach a greater audience and ultimately engage more people in this holy work.
From discussions on challenging topics like race, education, faith perspectives, poverty, criminal justice, housing, de facto segregation and more, members learn how not to be disagreeable even when they do not agree. As community leaders, it is important to model living together with people who are different. After a few years of dialogue, there are several bridges that have been built among the variety of represented clergy. HUBB continues to engage more faith leaders and hopes to extend the richness of dialogue to the broader community, as well.Over the last three years we have experienced lots of successes, as well some common obstacles that we have slowly but surely learned how to navigate. We have gleaned wisdom on how to start a group diverse not only according to religion and ethnicity but also on the scale of liberal to conservative streams within faiths. We have developed a methodology for how to convene the group, how to build trust among participants, how to choose topics and perhaps most importantly, how to transfer the relationships built into bridges between disparate faith communities. Here in South Hampton Roads we celebrated the week leading up to MLK Day with a series of educational and social programs presented by our participating clergy and their faith communities that brought out over 1500 people to learn together and encounter each other!
Learn more about the dedicated group of clergy and organizational leaders that head up the Hands United Building Bridges team!