Rev. Rayfield Burns
"If People Matter So Much to God, They Should Matter to Me Also"
For Rev. Rayfield Burns of Metropolitan Missionary Baptist in Kansas City, Missouri, being involved with PICO affiliate Communities Creating Opportunity (CCO) over the past 20 years has taught him a thing or two.
“I became involved in CCO in 1989. At the time, I was still a layman in my church, but I was very intrigued by organizing,” recalls Rev. Burns. “We had a problem with an old abandoned building across the street. The landlord was absent and it was an eyesore. The head pastor at the time tried to work with the city to tear it down, but he couldn’t do it. So he turned it over to the local organizing committee in the church.”
“Through research and action, our organizing committee got the city manager to commit to putting funds towards demolishing the building. It was a real insight. The pastor had a lot of influence, but he still couldn’t get the job done by himself,” recalls Rev. Burns.
While this initial involvement peaked his interest, organizing took on more meaning as he entered the ministry.
“Through their involvement with CCO, I’ve seen members of my church grow in their ability to speak out and take action. The process PICO uses to organize also builds strong leaders in the church setting.”
“Getting people involved, finding solutions to problems, one-to-ones. The model can be applied anywhere. Building relationships is part of the PICO model, but it helps in general.”
Reflecting upon why he is still involved in CCO after almost 20 years, Rev. Burns’ answer is simple.
“If people matter so much to God, they should matter to me also. Organizing has helped me realize my own humanity, my own self-worth, and to better see the dignity of other people, to see that there’s worth in all of us.”
“Over the years, CCO has proven itself to be a friend of the community. We’ve just about touched the lives of every person in our community. I’m very proud to be a part of that.”