The Inter-religious Organizing Initiative (IOI) is a growing collaborative of leaders from different faith bodies and denominations, national and regional congregation-based organizing networks, funders of congregation-based organizing efforts, and religious justice organizations. The Working Table of the IOI exists to advance two goals:
- Deepen the institutional and congregational capacities of our faith traditions to be more powerfully engaged in public life for the sake of justice; and
- Develop processes and capacities for building power necessary to win policy changes that expand justice at the national level.
To meet these goals, the IOI Working Table strives to:
IOI members have seen the effectiveness of congregation-based organizing to revive and activate congregations and their communities, and to spread the practice of democratic social change. Because IOI members know first-hand the many benefits of membership in organizing groups, the Working Table dedicates significant attention to strengthening members’ capacity to promote organizing efforts.
Our own active involvement has provided us with insights, not commonly accessible to those on the “sidelines of the action,” in how best to support the growth and sustainability of this social movement. And, since our faith representatives all hold leadership positions within their faith bodies, they know how best to promote organizing efforts to their congregants. Further, with the regular participation of organizing networks, we can tap their ongoing learning and stay current on their organizing campaigns and development needs.
IOI recognizes that by increasing congregational membership in organizing networks we add to their financial stability, increase their base of power, and amplify their effectiveness in meeting low and moderate income communities’ agendas for social justice, while simultaneously strengthening congregations.
Following a model at work in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the IOI encourages each of its faith-body members to have a national level staff person assigned to direct the role of organizing in the denomination, and to establish national congregation-based organizing teams (CBOTs) made up of church leaders who are also active in local organizing affiliates. These teams hold trainings, convene local leaders, give talks to congregations, and make themselves available as a general resource in their national offices.
Energized with expanded participation, a successful history of experimenting with new program directions, and encouraged by the steady growth in our capacity-building strategy, IOI stands poised to expand its reach and deepen the capacity of each denominations’ congregation-based organizing team. IOI is committed to:
- Establishing a CBOT Gold Standard Toolbox: promoting best practices and lessons learned by our national denominational CBO Teams;
- Coordinating Advocacy Office with Organizing Efforts: strengthening partnerships between faith-based advocacy and organizing sectors around regional and national issues;
- Widening its outreach to more African American faith groups and to the Muslim community;
- Convening an Interfaith Justice Values Discussion: gaining knowledge of members’ social justice histories, building deeper relationships, developing guidelines when honest differences surface, collaborating with organizing networks as they deepen their interfaith contexts.
- Creating a Congregation-based Organizing Database: compiling a comprehensive, regularly updated database of congregations involved with organizing networks.
- Holding a CBOT Summit: engage with CBOT leaders, judicatory heads, interested faith advocacy office personnel, prospective congregational leaders, senior organizers and new IOI members, with the intent of launching a new wave of activity and effectiveness.