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faith based community organizing

March 24, 2016 | Author: | Posted in religion and theology


1 . Getting organized : faith-based alliances make a difference by Stephen Hart

Aurora Solis is typical of the people involved in faith-based organizing . Solis , a Mexican immigrant who grew up in a low-income home works in a staff position at a high school in San Jose , California . She has been a U .S . citizen for only four years . But she was recruited by her pastor to serve on the parish “local organizing committee ” and bring together parishioners and others living in the church ‘s neighborhood She became a leader in neighborhood [banner_entry_middle]

struggles and by 1997 was president of People Acting in Community Together (PACT . Today she speaks with poise and humor to large audiences , and negotiates with the mayor of San Jose

Across the country faith-based community organizing is enabling people to confront issues of economic justice . A recent survey by Interfaith Funders shows how large and diverse this movement has become . Unlike almost every other justice movement , it is strongly multiethnic injecting moral passion and religious tradition into public debate , but in a way that respects the nation ‘s cultural diversity . It allows congregations to become active on political issues without the divisions sometimes engendered by church social action in the 1960s and ’70s

In its current form this is a relatively young movement . It was pioneered in the 1970s by the Industrial Areas Foundation , after IAF founder Saul Alinsky died and Ed Chambers took over . Ernie Cortes ‘s work in Texas was the first practical expression of the new approach , which departed significantly from Alinsky ‘s style , not least in taking seriously religious issues and the well-being of congregations . By now the movement has grown far beyond the bounds of the IAF , with which only about one-third of the local projects are affiliated . The rest work with one of three other organizing “networks : the Pacific Institute for Community Organization (PICO , the Gamaliel Foundation , and Direct Action and Research Training (DART . theless , the movement remains coherent , following a common philosophy and organizational strategy

Organizing is a form of politics , broadly understood . Faith-based community organizations do not usually provide direct services . Rather they address issues , pressuring governments or corporations to bring more resources into modest-income neighborhoods or to adopt policies that better meet their needs . Organizing also distinguishes itself from “advocacy ” the kind of work done by church lobbying offices in Washington and state capitals . Advocacy is typically carried on by privileged people on behalf of those less privileged . The idea behind faith-based organizing is that the agents and beneficiaries of change should be the same people–ordinary people empowered to become effective and articulate actors on the public stage

The campaigns undertaken by local projects address issues important to the congregations . An example is the work of VOICE , a Gamaliel affiliate in Buffalo . The city ‘s West Side is an ethnically diverse neighborhood plagued by falling property values and drugs , often dealt from abandoned houses . In 1997 Our Lady of Loretto Catholic Church , a VOICE congregation in this part of… [banner_entry_footer]

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