Principles of Faith-Based Organizing
Paper Presented to:
Rutgers School of Social Work, Rutgers University
Dr. Jose Carrasco
San Jose State University
..."Principles of Faith-Based Organizing: When it comes to the practice of community
organizing in the US, credit must be given to Saul Alinsky who is considered by most organizers
to be the grandfather of community organizing. As such, many of the principles that
underlie Faith-based organizing can be found in Alinsky’s book, Rules for Radicals. While most
professions operate within well-defined environments governed by authoritative relationships,
community organizers must operate in uncertain environments governed by power-relations. As
a means of providing discipline and guidance to their work, organizers in the Faith based model
adhere to a set of select principles.
An example of these principles follows:
• Empowerment is a spiritual awakening inspiring peoples’ imagination towards creativity.
• Organizing is about people, not issues.
• You work with people where they are, not where you want them to be.
• Never do for others what they can do for themselves.
• The power is in the relationship.
The local congregation-community level is where the organizing process begins. This
process includes leadership training in organizational models, vision and values clarification, one-on-one visitation, issue assessment and research, action planning, action engagement, evaluation, and conflict resolution. All local organizations have their own leadership and address their own local issues. Moreover, representatives elected by each of the local organizations serve as part of the federation’s governing body, which sets policy and oversees the federation’s activity. In addition, a full-time organizing staff is hired and maintained by the federation to advise, provide training, and to assist in the development and implementation of the local and federated organizing process. Moreover, unlike other organizing models, central to
this model is an active and participatory constituency.
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