OUR UNIQUE LENSES
“Justice is the ongoing, never-ending journey to remake community by strengthening relationships.”
Yeast leavens the whole dough. This is our vision for congregations, organizing networks, and institutions – catalysts for holy change in the larger community around them. We believe the community and the people in it are the experts and our job is to listen – to understand the talents, dreams, assets, and challenges. Communities have untapped leaders, who understand the history of a place, its critical issues, and what is meaningful to people. Leaders are not confined to the congregation, organizing network, or institution. Vibrant faith-filled community is responsible to the entirety of the “parish,” even if people in the larger community never become “members” or “worshippers.”
Creating racial and economic equity is our northstar. We prepare congregations, organizing networks, institutions, and their leaders to do justice, so that when they invest in the communities around them, the benefit is shared equitably by all. An equity strategy understands that all communities are interconnected, and the wellbeing of one community in relationship to another community has an effect on the wellbeing of all communities.
Income inequality has reached historic levels, and we gather and equip faith-based institutions to resist and reverse this trend. For the wealthiest sectors, the economy is thriving, but growth has left many people and whole communities behind. In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, unemployment soared, leaving many individuals and families unable to meet their most basic needs. The jobs created during the resulting Great Recession are often low-wage and part-time, an inadequate replacement for the full-time jobs lost. We are also in the midst of a much longer economic trend toward a service economy that keeps workers contingent and without benefits while concentrating wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer CEOs and shareholders. The middle class is shrinking. Wages for the lowest-paid workers are declining. All communities of color have higher rates of poverty and unemployment than white people. These trends endanger families and decimate communities of color.
PEOPLE: Expanding access to opportunity by tackling inequalities in the criminal justice, education, and immigration systems and by investing in training, skill building, and jobs for people facing the greatest barriers to employment.
PLACE: Anchoring communities, preventing the displacement of low-income people and communities of color, and ensuring that diverse neighborhoods are places where all residents can live, work, and thrive.
POWER: Nurturing equity movements to build power that can demand investments in people and place and ensure a political voice for all.
COMMUNITY ORGANIZING AS SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
“The death of the spiritual life begins when we no longer listen.” --Dietrich Bonhoeffer
We embrace community organizing as a spiritual practice. Listening and building relationships one person at a time breathes life and spirit and power into people and places. It connects us not just to each other but also to God. The community organizing we practice and train leaders in is holy work. Through it, we create containers for individual transformation, organizational transformation, and societal transformation.
The network’s own Dr. Cynthia Moe-Lobeda describes that transformation in four spiritual journeys. Through this work, God moves us and the neighborhoods we are accountable to:
from fear and despair to hope
from isolation to relationship
from inertia to action
from self-denigration to self-love
Amen. May it be so.