Advocacy To Engagement
Advocacy – “Bear public witness, bringing a prophetic word to the powers and principalities of the world.” – NCP VISION STATEMENT
From Advocacy to Engagement – Takoma Park Presbyterian Church knows that community organizing training can teach a congregation how to deeply listen for a sense of call. During worship at Takoma Park, in small groups, over six months, worshipers discerned key goals, including “addressing local inequalities.” By surveying assets, the congregation realized their unused kitchen could create jobs (alleviating poverty). Vital community partners helped change zoning, fundraise, develop a business plan and identify and train clients. Takoma Park Presbyterian hopes their “community shared commercial” kitchen inspires other church kitchens! Takoma Park Presbyterian is only one of several congregations in National Capital Presbytery who have benefited through the community organizing efforts of VOICE (Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement), AIM (Action in Montgomery County) and WIN (Washington Interfaith Network). Each congregation initially joined to contribute to advocacy efforts and solutions to issues in the community: housing, medical accessibility, community safety, and food insecurity. Thus, each congregation fulfill a mission goal to work effectively for the welfare of their local setting; moreover, these congregations were challenged and changed by the leadership dynamics of community organizing.
Through your mission giving, National Capital Presbytery provides annual grants to VOICE, AIM and WIN; there are also grants to underwrite the first year’s membership dues of congregations affiliating with these networks. Through participation in communityTakoma Park Community Kitchen advocacy and change NCP congregations are true to their reformed heritage of engagement in the public square. The surprise of this funding pattern is the remarkable way that congregations apply community organizing techniques and sensitivities within congregations. The lessons of community organizing take root in a congregation to provoke streamlining of structures, trust building among leaders and members, and rightly designed programs that fulfill new missions. As a Presbytery, we are doubly blessed as we support congregational involvement with VOICE, AIM and WIN.
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Remember, we can do more together to serve God and demonstrate the love revealed in Jesus Christ than any of us can do separately. Together we are making a difference!