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Getting Started in Congregation-Based Community Organizing

More times than not, Unitarian Universalist congregations get involved in Congregation-Based Community Organizing (CBCO) when the minister, either as a member of a group of local clergy, or individually, is approached by another minister or an organizer and told of organizing efforts either beginning or currently underway. The minister then takes the question of participation to her or his congregation, typically through representation, frequently with the support of the relevant network and congregational understandings are reached. Projects frequently involve 20 or more congregations of various faiths and signing on means a commitment to work cooperatively and support interfaith organizational efforts financially.

If this has not happened, it is not likely that there is as active CBCO project operating in your area. Then, to confirm whether or not organizational efforts are in effect, contact each of the five networks listed below to see whether or not they are active in your area. If there is a CBCO project in your area, it makes sense to find out all you can about that project and consider participation. It is quite possible that there will be more than one, or none at all.

Either way you have to choose a network. You may want to know who is working nearby, the opinions of your colleagues who are working with one or another of the five networks, the financial cost of involvement and how each of them see the tasks immediately ahead and how all of that "fits" your congregation. This may seem like a terribly big decision, but our survey indicates high satisfaction with all five networks. Assuming no preexisting organization, among the first tasks will be work to organize a substantially large number of congregations as the umbrella organization for community organization efforts. This activity will be guided and supported by the national network you chose.

It is a good idea that interested people take some training. All networks offer training at various sites across the country at various times, and publish their training schedules. Some offer training targeted for clergy. Training may involve a workshop or two, or as much as two weeks of full-time engagement, followed by advanced training. A minister or members of a congregation having received training, having made a good connection with a network, and having worked within and between congregations, have started several successful projects.

For more information contact socialjustice @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Wednesday, August 24, 2011.

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