The title of this blog comes from an article in the April 2008 issue of Sojourner magazine that talks about Barack Obama's three years of working as a community organizer on the south side of Chicago. The article describes how community organizers like Barack work to tap the resources of the church and the community, not just their financial and human resources but also the power of hope to rebuild communities. At the same time of this publication, the Rev. Henry G. Brinton, pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, VA wrote an article titled "Faith and Power" in the March 31, 2008 issue of Presbyterian Outlook. Rev Brinton talks about faith-based community organizing and how his congregation along with other Presbyterian congregations across the country are working together through the 170 + faith-based community organizations to "work on behalf of the poor and the working poor, and all are helping people of faith to become comfortable with exercising power." Recently, the Jewish Fund for Justice and the Unitarian Universalist Association developed resources to help their synagogues and congregations learn more about faith-based community organizing and how it can help strengthen and renew the life of their congregations and communities.
Barack's presidential campaign has elevated the subject of faith-based community organizing to a higher level of media coverage. Many folks think that faith-based community organizing is new work but it has been around for more than 50 years. I am proud to be part of the Presbyterian Church (USA) because it has played an integral part in the development and growth of faith-based community organizing in the US and overseas.
The articles from Sojourner and Presbyterian Outlook demonstrate that faith-based community organizing transcends left and right theology, that it embraces doing both evangelism and social justice, that it works in suburban, rural and urban communities, and that it organizes God's hope wherever it deeply roots itself.