The Rev. Charles Swadley (right), Faith Outreach Coordinator for the Virginia Interfaith Center, addresses the crowd at a Prayer Vigil in front of the office of State Sen. Tommy Norment in Williamsburg on Monday, Oct. 17.   Photo by Karen Cameron


On Monday, the Williamsburg Chapter of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy’s “Prayer Vigil” was held outside State Senator Tommy Norment’s office at the Sun Trust Building. Leaders from several faith groups led a litany of sacred scripture, reflection and prayers for healthcare.

Because Norment has refused to participate in open forums or in personal conversations about affordable and accessible healthcare for all Virginians, about 30 frustrated people from diverse religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds brought the message to him with placards and offering testimony of the impact of not having health insurance.

Then on Tuesday morning Norment received a box full of letters from constituents pleading their concern and hope that he might be moved by a moral imperative to use his position of power in the Virginia General Assembly to support accessible and affordable healthcare..

“I see patients on a daily basis suffering from more advanced disease states than usual due to lack of health insurance,”
said participants Dr. Christine Llewellyn, a radiologist at the VCU Medical Center who carried a multicolored sign to the gathering.

The Virginia Interfaith Center is deeply concerned about the rights of people living in poverty – including the right to quality healthcare. We base this commitment on the core value that each human being has inherent dignity and that society is whole only when we care for the most vulnerable among us. Affordable and accessible healthcare is an essential safeguard of human life and a fundamental human right.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has the opportunity to use federal money to fully fund access to these services, either through expansion of existing Medicaid or by developing our own program. The ability to provide critical healthcare services, including preventative ones, to approximately 400,000 of our most vulnerable residents who do not presently quality for Medicaid or are not making enough to afford their own coverage.

Kim Bobo, executive director of the Virginia Interfaith Centery, encouraged the interfaith group of the Greater Williamsburg community to have hope and to believe the day will come soon when Sen. Norment and other legislators will recognize the human needs and the moral imperative to support healthcare for all citizens.