More than fifty years ago I asked my Provincial for permission to make community organizing my ministry as a Jesuit priest in Oakland, California. I was motivated by anger at injustice and the belief that people should decide their own future.
From Faith in Action’s roots in one community in Oakland in 1972, we now support faith-based community organizing in 200 cities and 25 states across the U.S., and in a dozen countries in Africa, Central America, Haiti and Eastern Europe.
While Faith in Action has grown into a global movement working to change policies that influence the lives of millions of people, we remain grounded in local communities.
Faith in Action is dedicated to the idea that people can transform the world when they build trusting relationships, listen to their neighbors, inventory their resources, speak directly with decision-makers, and propose and negotiate solutions based on local wisdom.
We begin with people who believe in miracles before they see them, for whom faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
Over time, people who’ve never before met their mayor win funding for a bridge to get their crops to market. They build a health clinic or a school. Their lives improve, their confidence grows. Local victories help people imagine bigger national changes.
What people learn about themselves and society and the relationships they build make it possible to work together to change national policies, to fight for land and water rights, agricultural policies that invest in local farmers, and systems that provide a safety net to workers who lose their jobs.
Faith in Action gives people tools to put their values and beliefs into practice. That is a great blessing for all of us.
We see Faith in Action International as a community of people who are working and learning together to create a better, more humane world. Everyone has a role to play, whether you are a monthly donor, clergy person, grassroots leader, community organizer or active participant in one of our campaigns to change U.S. foreign and development policy.
Our roles may vary but our contribution is vital. Everyone belongs.
Fr. John Baumann, S.J.