How People’s Church is Involved in the Wider Community
Each year our Social Justice Coordinating Committee (SJCC) selects local organizations to be recipients of our monthly special Collections, which total about $1000 per collection. An article is written by the SJCC in the newsletter preceding the designated Sunday and a spokesperson is invited to speak briefly about the mission of the organization before the collection is taken.
Recent or upcoming recipient organizations are:
On a regular basis, our members bring donations of food and personal products for Loaves and Fishes and Ministry with Community (day shelter), with special “fill the truck” efforts conducted at high need times of year.
All through the year, members are involved in an array of projects in the community, including:
- Tutoring at Lincoln School, a high poverty, high need school
- Mentoring offenders returning to the community
- Adopt-A-Highway cleanups
- Periodic special organized advocacy efforts (e.g., to remove contaminated soil from the abandoned paper mill site near major water source, to adopt an anti-discrimination ordinance in our county for sexual orientation).
Systems Change Advocacy
This work is done primarily through our involvement in ISAAC (Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy and Action in the Community). Members of our congregation played significant roles in ISAAC actions that:
- Helped establish the evidence-based Nurse Family Partnership program in our county (and restore state funding for NFP in Michigan)
- Created the initiative for high-quality preschool for all 4 year olds in the county (KC Ready 4s)
- Expanded county funding available for preventing/addressing homelessness and the emerging pilot of the evidence-based FUSE program
- Conducted transit work that resulted in a county-wide transit authority and expanded public transportation including the paratransit system.
In recognition of these contributions, People’s Church was presented the Founders Leadership Award from ISAAC in 2010. A letter of welcome to our ministerial candidates from the ISAAC clergy leaders is included here.
In recognition of our sustained and extensive program of social justice, People’s Church received the Bennett Award for Congregational Action on Human Justice and Social Action from the UUA in 2012. The Bennett Award application letter details the full range of our historic to current (2012) social justice work, from local to international in scope. The award letter stated:
Our Partners in the Community
ISAAC, is an affiliate of the Gamaliel Foundation, the Community Based Community Organization (CBCO) where we have played a leadership role since its inception in 2002. Involvement in ISAAC brings us into continual partnership with diverse congregations and leaders throughout the community, such as the Metropolitan NAACP, Hispanic American Council, Great Start Collaborative, affordable housing coalition member organizations, disability advocates, health equity activists, law enforcement and community members impacted by youth gang violence, and in working relationships with our elected representatives at the city, county and state level.
We also work closely with the following organizations in the projects described above:
- Lincoln Elementary School, through Communities in Schools (CIS) with Kalamazoo Public Schools
- ERAC/CE (Eliminating Racism and Claiming/Celebrating Equality) which provides anti-racism training and ongoing caucus opportunities
- Michigan Prisoner Re-entry where members serve on mentor teams assigned to individuals in the reentry process
- Kalamazoo Community Foundation which has funded some of our internal anti-racism training and social justice work through ISAAC
- Michigan UU Social Justice Network on minimum wage and LGBTQ rights campaigns