“Become a bridge to each other. We are building a movement!” – Local Leader Marina Ortiz, North Seattle on the Immigrant Accompaniment Network
The building of a bridge. It begins with faith. I see that faith embodied in our communities as they cultivate powerful connections, enriched by the leadership of people like Ms. Ortiz. Together, we are building community power and lasting local leadership, rooted in faith.
Dear neighbor, the leaders who connect us urgently need your support. Please, make a gift to the immediate & enduring work being done through the Church Council of Greater Seattle today.
Here are 4 local leaders of the Church Council, to tell you about their organizing circles. Their full interview are linked below each of their photos. We invite you to take the time and hear from them in their own words by supporting community-centered organizing work is so crucial right now.
Local Leader Marina Ortiz, North Seattle on the Immigrant Accompaniment Network: “We are working on families supporting families. The idea is for congregations to see the families we connect with. There is so much need. With charity, you see someone has a need and you help. And then with convivencia [inter-dependent living], you see more. You become a bridge to each other. We are building a movement of North American people sharing voice and walking with immigrant people.”
The incredible work of our Accompaniment Network this year includes COVID 19 Emergency Response in which 1023 meal boxes were distributed, and rent relief continues to be collected and distributed, system navigation accompaniment for dozens of asylum seekers in the wake of COVID, sanctuary support, workshops and trainings, and more!
Local Leader E.N. West, Columbia City on the Faith Land Cohort: “I was having 1 on 1 meetings with churches and kept hearing “This justice work you are bringing us is important, but what is pressing is this building.” We needed to respond to the actual needs of churches. It’s exciting to see participants use the structures we’re sharing to energize their congregations. Our goal is to shift how we all engage in the issue of faith land, grounding it in the land itself. The land speaks.”
This year we are piloting a new process: convening a cohort of congregations for a 6-month dive into our faith traditions and community organizing practices, discerning next steps together toward aligning the use of faith-owned land with the visions of faith communities.
Local Leader Karen, Seattle on why we need community leaders: “Local leaders are so important because not only is it food, but it’s giving company to the community, saying no estan solos, estamos con ustedes (you’re not alone, we are with you). Maybe we can give people hope, and the world needs more hope. If we don’t take the initiative, time, and energy to assemble groups to help people, we would be stuck. When we are focused on ourselves, we aren’t opening ourselves up to hear and help out the community. The community leaders who make the effort to get people’s attention and get people together make such a big impact on so many families. If you all didn’t unite then all those people wouldn’t have received their food. That little kid wouldn’t have received his milk.”
Karen is a leader within her community, seeking and strengthening connections with and between her neighbors, congregations, and groups like the Church Council. She became involved in the Church Council’s Food Box Program this summer first as a recipient, then as a volunteer, and ultimately as a hugely impactful connector of her neighbors to food boxes and other resources.
Local Leader Cesar Linares, Burien on the Organizing Fellows: “Cultivating leaders is about helping people become the leaders they are. Owning the capacity I have in my own community, where I went to grade school and high school. Making sense of all I’ve learned, organizing with it all. And how to sustain the work over time. Doing this organizing work is opening my mind and heart for what that might look like.”
Cultivating talented, sustainable, effective organizers is critical to the future of faith-rooted organizing locally. 10 fellows have been part of the Church Council over the past 6 years. This year Mr. Linares co-led the effort that protected the Human Services Budget in Burien. Not one penny was cut, thanks to community action & voice. Uplifting the voices of these young leaders not only makes concrete change in our communities. It is also a fundamental step in the Council’s work of dismantling our own white supremacist structures.
At this moment, our web of local leaders face 2 urgent financial needs; they need our support:
- We host an emergency fund for immigrant families who fall between the cracks of other systems. The COVID Immigrant Accompaniment Fund needs $10,000 to meet the next tsunami of need as COVID continues. 100% of these gifts flow out to immigrant families.
- We are $28,000 away from paying for the base cost of the innovative programs & stellar organizers who keep today’s community power growing. We can’t distribute emergency funds or support our 11 circles of local leaders without staff organizers and back office support. A group of friends who believe in the power of community are raising $14,000 toward this $28,000 need. We’re halfway there! And we need your involvement to keep building this bridge.
Please make a financial gift toward the cost of local organizing – adding another 50% toward the COVID Accompaniment Fund. Together we will keep those organizers at work and fill that emergency coffer.
Thank you for your leadership!
Featured photo: from a community organizing meeting hosted by Cesar’s family, co-convened with support from Church Council organizers, in 2019