The Missoula Interfaith Collaborative has been bringing congregations and communities into collaborative ministry for over six years now. We coordinate Family Promise, an emergency shelter system for families without homes. Our Housing Advocacy Network assists those looking for housing and direct services. Missoula Works, our staffing agency, places individuals into life-changing positions of employment. For a reasonable price, Recycling Works will pick up your used glass and compost bi-weekly in our endeavor to generate revenue while caring for the environment.
MIC does a lot to bolster the immediate health and well-being of our city. When it comes to the long-term effects of shared collaboration, however, we’re not stopping there. Bridges and Leaders, our newly developing community organizing program, is reviving what it means to live an enriching public life. In a world that continues to preach isolation, individualism, and divisive politics, we’re on a mission to take back our communities one relationship at a time.
Relational meetings with our neighbors and people of influence stand at the core of our organizing efforts. We promote the strengthening of neighborhood gathering places that link people to community. We teach power analysis and listening skills. We learn to articulate our interests in relation to the interests of others. We train everyday Missoulians to be leaders and actors in their own right when it comes to the systemic pressures affecting their daily lives. Essentially, we’re working to build the kind of truly diverse, relational power needed to bridge divides and shift paradigms that limit us from living our best lives possible while in relation to others and the needs of the whole community.
We’re doing this kind of organizing for many reasons. We’re concerned the public sector has become deflated. We think the understanding of politics has diminished into something it’s not or was never meant to be. Most importantly, we’ve been inspired by all of you, people of faith, who help us reimagine our God-given political birthright to do more than just pray for the common good of all.
I’m not advocating for partisan politics in God’s church. Rather, I’m referencing the ways our traditions encourage us to engage in public life with integrity. They show us how the ability to function wholly within the public sphere is a matter of deep concern to God. Why else do we share stories about God’s anger toward injustice? Why else do we uphold prophets whose teachings convict us to move outside ourselves into community? Such wisdom-led women and men help us embrace tension and accountability within our relationships so the work of everyday people can progress and eventually heal our world.
We have a lot of work to do to assure our city continues to be a safe, healthy, and affordable place to live for all. As we move into a season of celebration for many people of faith, may God’s evident blessings inspire you to act beside us and reimagine with us what’s possible when we work hand-in-hand.