Congregation-Based Community Organizing

CBCO Ministers Council GA 2013 Plenary Presentation Building Power & Beloved Community by Revs. Neal Anderson and Linda Olson Peebles

Congregation-Based Community Organizing (also called Faith-Based, Broad-Based, or sometimes Institution-Based) is a movement that seeks to establish interfaith, cross-class, multiethnic and multiracial grassroots organizations for purposes of increasing social integration and power in civil society and working for social improvement. There are five major national networks of congregation-based community organizations (CBCOs): local interfaith organizations that work for civic, regional, and state-wide social change, building power and creating justice at local, state, and national levels. Almost 200 Unitarian Universalists congregations are part of CBCOs.

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Cleveland UU's Stay Focused on Systemic Change in Criminal Justice. Although Cleveland Ohio has been one of the cities suffering some of the worst instances of police violence against unarmed African Americans, it has been a city in the shadows of the national spotlight highlighting activism around “Black Lives Matter”. That changed recently, and it changed in a way that Cleveland Unitarian Universalists (UU’s) were proud to be part of. Alongside our interfaith community based coalition partners, Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC), we were on the streets of Cleveland on May 26 to embody our four year call for criminal justice reform, a call that was reflected back and embodied in turn moments after our march concluded, with the announcement of a Consent Decree on police department reform between the US Department of Justice and the City of Cleveland. Read full story.

Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA) Ministry Day GA 2014 Keynote: Dr. Marshall Ganz on Public Narratives for Transformative Ministry. Dr. Marshall Ganz is a veteran activist, organizer, and teacher, whose work focuses on helping social change leaders harness the power of storytelling to mobilize social movements.

Intervalley Project Organizers Workshop at GA 2014 on Dr. Marshall Ganz's: Story of Self, Story of Us, Story of Now—Creating Public Narratives for as an Organizing Tool
Presenters: Sarah Jane Knoy-Granite State (NH) Organizing Project & Ray Gagne-Rhode Island Organizing Project

See and hear Dr. Richard Wood’s presentation at GA 2013: Building Bridges & Power: Advances in Congregation-Based Organizing

Best Practice

People’s Church of Kalamazoo MI—Winner of 2012 Bennett Award for Congregational Social Justice! Ten years ago, after a Sunday Service, a newcomer asked about the People’s Church social action program and a long-time member answered, “Oh, we don’t do that.” Today, the congregation supports a vibrant social justice ministry, from community organizing and community service, to advocacy at the local, state and national level, and an international partnership. A Standing on the Side of Love banner hangs in the sanctuary and the congregation received a Leadership Award from their interfaith community organization (ISAAC) for their role in securing funding from the city and state for early childhood education, as well as bringing a multi-million dollar grant for the Nurse Family Partnership to Kalamazoo. They also lifted up People’s for bringing an anti-racism focus to ISAAC’s ministry and applauded their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocacy in the community. Fifty people–adults, youth, and children—regularly help prepare and serve meals at an interfaith weekly program for homeless people. What has changed to make the congregation this year’s recipient of the Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA’s) social justice award? Read the full story including the action steps and resources the congregation used to strengthen their justice ministries.

Read more CBCO congregational stories.

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  1. Learn more about CBCO.
  2. Find a CBCO affiliate (PDF) near you.
  3. Connect with other UU congregations in CBCO.

More Resources and Stories

VA Governor Honors VOICE as Recipients of 2016 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Award

VOICE leadership receive award from Gov. Terry McAuliffe (4th from left). Rev. Dr. Linda Olson Peebles (3rd from left) of Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington was one of the founders of VOICE.

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Rev. Jill McAllister, People's Church of Kalamazoo, MI speaks at ISAAC (Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy and Action in the Community)

Rev. Jill McAllister of People's Church in Kalamazoo, MI, 2012 UUA Justice Award winner, at a 2011 ISAAC event
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