There is something exhilarating about sitting in a room full of relational professionals. Today's faith leaders work hard -- well into the night -- carrying the pain, hopes and fears for so many families and individuals in their parish or community. As tired systems, isolation and polarization increase amongst political, religious and racial groups; clergy are left forever mending a multitude of broken hearts and families.
This type of heavy care begs for stronger community-wide investments in protecting the weak and vulnerable. It appears that pride and power continue to trump a needed harmony of loving neighbors and others as much as self. How can Colorado support our many faith leaders in lifting and protecting the weak and vulnerable in our neighborhoods? How can we empower and position a deeply needed 'faith voice' in today's debate on injustice?
Rev. Dawn Duval, Metro Organizations for People's newest statewide organizer is on a mission to bring together, inspire and empower faith communities across Colorado on today's heaviest political, economic and health issues. Her contribution to this piece starts here:
Last November, 12 Colorado clergy affiliated with Metro Organizations for People (MOP) gathered in New Orleans for four days with over 550 clergy from across the country through the People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO) National Network to launch a Prophetic Voices Initiative -- a national effort to organize clergy on behalf of working families.
The experience impacted Rev. Paul Carlson of Our Saviors Lutheran in Denver:
The New Orleans gathering of 550 plus clergy from all over the country, committed to practicing their faith in the public square, was inspiring for its passion, diversity and clarity on matters of theology and relevant public/political issues. It confirmed my own conviction that the country needs this kind of faith voice as a significant part of our national conversation. New Orleans, though a starting point, showed that faith communities working together can be a political force for justice.
As the nation moves into the 2012 election cycle, clergy, who work closely with struggling communities, have an important voice for informing the public narrative in Colorado and in turn, push for changes that create opportunities for all families. According to Rev. Paul Kottke from University Park UMC in Denver:
After participating with the PICO clergy gathering, I am more convinced than ever that the religious voice is critically important for our society in the 21st Century. Not for the tired battles of doctrine or dogmas but for forming community based upon the diversity of God's creation, for finding deep meaning in the midst of struggle, and for articulating a vision that is not driven by the election cycles of our country but rather by God's beloved covenant.
One of the first projects of the Prophetic Voices Initiative is to move 20,000 clergy to sign a "Clergy Call to Action" -- an urgent invitation for clergy across the country to address economic and racial injustice. In Colorado we will use the New Orleans gathering toward a goal of moving 1,500 clergy to sign the "Clergy Call to Action" and gather at clergy tables throughout Colorado in 2012 to discuss how to bring a more powerful faith voice to the issues confronting our state and nation.
We invite you to join us on Tuesday, April 24 at Queen of Peace Church (13120 E Kentucky Ave, Aurora, Colo.) as we launch our new statewide vision and plan to organize clergy and faith communities across the state in 2012 and beyond.
For more information email Jonathon Stalls at Jonathon@mopdenver.org or visit Metro Organizations for People's website at: www.mopdenver.org and The PICO National Network's website at www.piconetwork.org.