The Rev. Milford Lewis Griner: Why the census matters to churches


Published: Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 12:12 a.m.

The 2010 U.S. Census is upon us, and this year, all of Alachua County and Gainesville can take a part in making sure that every citizen, and even non-citizen as required by law, is included in this effort.

Alachua County Commissioner Rodney J. Long is the 2010 Census "Champion" for Alachua County, and he has organized a team of subcommittees made up of community leaders and residents, whose task it is to make sure that every segment of the population of the city and county is accurately included in the census.

The kick-off meeting of the 2010 Census Complete Count Committee for Alachua County was held on Oct. 28 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Multipurpose Center in Gainesville. At that kick-off, seven subcommittees were formed to begin this very important work. Each subcommittee has specific tasks and assignments tailored to ensure that this year's census count is both successful and accurate.

As a pastor and community leader, I have agreed to serve as the chairman of the faith-based subcommittee. Candie Nixon, a member of Showers of Blessings Harvest Center, is co-chair. The task of the faith-based subcommittee is to reach out to pastors and churches of all denominations all over the city and county and provide important information as to how completing the census form can be very beneficial to their respective congregations.

The census can benefit congregations in many important ways. Every year, more than $400 billion is distributed by the federal government to state and local government based on the information gleaned from the census forms.

Churches and other local ministries can then use this information to apply for grants and loans. Churches can also help guide funding decisions for local schools, hospitals and child-care centers, and can play a part in important decisions that government leaders will make in the next 10 years.

Congregations should and must have a voice in the future of their communities, and an accurate census count will help preserve that voice.

I am asking for the support and participation of every pastor and congregation in Gainesville and Alachua County to ensure that the 2010 census is successful. The form this year is very easy, asks only 10 questions, and only takes about 10 minutes to complete.

By law, the U.S. Census Bureau cannot share an individual's personal information with anyone else. So the information sent in by members of congregations will be safe.

The faith-based subcommittee has been holding regular meetings to plan our part in the census, and how best to distribute important materials and information out to the church congregations. If you are a local pastor reading this column, please join us. We need you on our committee to work with us. Time is growing short.

Before we know it, Census Day, April 1, will be here. Our subcommittee is making great plans, including a census rally in March at a local church. Participation of church leaders is vital.

For more information, e-mail me at mlgriner@yahoo.com, or call me at (352) 665-4066 or (352) 377-5022. Co-chair, Candie Nixon can be reached at ctnixon@alachuacounty.us, and (352) 264-6754.

Pastors, this your great opportunity to take the lead and help promote the 2010 census. As pastors and church leaders, truly, it is in our hands!

The Rev. Milford Lewis Griner is co-chair of the Faith-Based subcommittee of the Census 2010 Complete Count Committee.

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