COMMUNITY GEMS: Social justice, equality at heart of Jefferson Twp. pastor

Community Gem Tom Stricker is active active in social justice issues. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Community Gem Tom Stricker is active active in social justice issues. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

“He never says no to anyone who needs help.”

Tom Stricker would like to see the people of the community sit down and talk, with understanding and without judgment.

“I believe that the more we understand who we are as individuals, the more we understand our unity with other people and how important diversity is,” said Stricker, 71, of Jefferson Twp.

Stricker is devoted to helping people in the Dayton area, in particular those who are marginalized or underserved, according to Edward Lehman, who nominated Stricker as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem.

Stricker is tireless when it comes to promoting equality and social justice, Lehman said.

“I think he’s extraordinarily generous with his time. He never says no to anyone who needs help,” said Lehman, of Beavercreek.

Lehman pointed to many examples of Stricker’s dedication, including almost 35 years assisting at the Dayton Correctional Institution.

He started there as a contract chaplain after being ordained as a Catholic priest and eventually became a volunteer. Stricker, who has been married to wife Patty for nearly 30 years, now does his ministry work through his affiliation with the Federation of Christian Ministries, which he said began as an organization of married priests who wanted to continue to do ministry. The group has since broadened its membership.

He now visits the correctional institution twice a week.

“I find it a real ministry because many of the people are really struggling there and they need to have people with a listening ear,” he said.

Stricker, who grew up on the west side of Cincinnati but has lived in Dayton for more than 40 years, has worked with people in poverty, others who are homeless, as well as those who are re-entering the community.

Lehman said that Stricker also helped to create the Dayton Peace Bridge, and through Stricker’s role as a pastor in the Living Beatitudes Community he has worked on a Black Lives Matter public awareness campaign that included large signs at Christ Episcopal Church, 20 W. First St. A new set of signs celebrating Pride Month were later mounted at the church.

Stricker said that the nonprofit faith community also is planning a program next year that focuses on intersectionality and unconscious bias. Stricker is concerned about equality for everyone, including all minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, the poor and the incarcerated, Lehman said.

Lehman met his friend about 30 years ago, through Dignity/Dayton. That group was the precursor to the Living Beatitudes Community, which both are now involved in.

Stricker is a leader in turning faith into action on social justice issues, Lehman said, and he also shows concern for the environment, conserving resources by doing such things as avoiding plastic straws and bottled water.

“He truly lives his values. A lot of us talk about that and don’t really follow through, but he does,” Lehman said.

Stricker said that the community can transform as we are together more and understand each other better, including the struggles that others face.

“Understand that we are all different, and that’s a good thing,” Stricker said. “That’s something we want to hold on to.”

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