Congregation/Civic Sectors Partnerships

Partnerships between congregations and Civic Sectors’ institutions resulted from the structural formation of the Religion Sector and the established components of “Regional Clergy Engagement.”  That formation supplemented by the use of those components, as described below, achieve the long sought capacity for community wide comprehensive congregation partnerships which includes the full benefit of “Congregation Based Resources” (CBR).

Civic Sectors’ institutions might include city departments, county departmental divisions, school districts, schools, community based service agencies, and state and federal agencies.

In almost every case, the process begins with (a) an articulation of the goals of a civic sector institution’s project, (b) an assessment to determine if a congregation partnership would serve to extend those goals and (c) the design of an application of the available components to the specific project plan.

Some of these components simply extend the initial outcomes for a project.  In other cases, the components enable the project to accomplish outcomes that would not have been otherwise feasible.

Within the process of partnership formation, considerations of appropriate roles of religion and “state” are able to be examined and aligned.  While projects draw on the same array of components, specific aspects of the project impact the final design.  Often components can be utilized without any question of the violation or even perception of a violation of religion and “state” parameters.  In other cases, options are placed on a “B list,” for review. If it determined that there is a clear policy that will govern that situation, it is moved to the A list.  This process often establishes the viability this option in a wide range of subsequent project formation.

Core Components

The Congregation Certificate component enables the professionals of a Civic Sector institution or institutions, through the “Agency Representative Team” (ART), to outline specific “Congregation Based Resources” (CBR) that would be assets in a specific project.  This replaces congregations’ periodic and random community involvement in serving a perceived community need.  All congregations systemically gain a professionally articulated statement clarifying how to share in collaborative response to that need.

Congregations identified from the “Database,” “Mapping” and “Gatherings,” when joining in the “partnership,” then take the initial step of appoint congregants to the “Congregation Representative Team” (CRT).  Their initial step is the review and recommendation of revisions of the proposed Certificate items from their perspective as the congregational specialists.  The implementation of the final “Certificate” is shared by the partnership representatives on the “ART” and the “CRT.”

The database and mapping provided the project specific congregation “Tracking System” which enabled the “ART” and the “CRT” to further recruit congregations from the project’s geographic area with capacity and needed assets that would benefit the project.  The “ART” and “CRT” are able to use the “Tracking System” to support each congregation in the project.

To support the Gathering process and the subsequent partnerships with the institutions of the civic sectors,  Trainings in Multi-Faith Awareness for institutions in all sectors, a Religion Sector Glossary, and Religion Sector Abbreviations became essential benefits and primary products of the initiative.

This process maximizes the opportunity for civic sectors’ institutions to benefit from sweeping assistance through the designed engagement of all congregations in a region, or a delineated subset of congregations, based on a specific project’s objectives and needs.  It also enables congregations to efficiently fulfill their commitment to serving the community greater good.

Outcomes frequently exceed the anticipated benefit of congregation partnerships.  Prior congregation partnerships had been ad hoc, therefore of a limited scope and length of the duration.  Partnerships consistently lacked the full richness of “Congregational Based Resources” (CBR) which had not been realized in the non-structured system.

Congregation Engagement Changing the Paradigm of Neighborhood Collaboration

A significant breakthrough has been the capacity to initiate the mapping component of “Regional Clergy Engagement.”  Partnership projects are built on a configuration of congregational geographic clusters, anchored by three “core cluster congregations” adjacent to each other. This creates a greater outreach visibility and strategic coordination.

In projects where congregations had a role in neighborhood constituent outreach, this visibility, and the realization of a multi-faith congregational partnership within the civic sector institution, resulted in quicker and more extensive outcomes.

The initial utilization of components and the formation of policy advanced the design of more complex and impactful applications, which were often models which could be utilized by other Civic Sectors’ institutions and other departments within a participating institution.

This simultaneously reversed the diminishing neighborhood bonding, or “bowling alone,” and increased the desired benefit of their systemic bridging within the community-wide institutions and jurisdictions.

Furthermore, the greater the extent of the “Regional Clergy Engagement” and the “Congregation and Civic Sectors’ Partnerships,” the greater the level of constituent engagement, by neighborhoods and throughout the community.  One example is the benefit of increasing the number of congregations participating in food bank sorting.  The structure can coordinate a specific sorting shift to include congregants from within a specific cluster, to increase their post sorting contact and potential congregational involvement in subsequent projects.  It can also coordinate shifts so that they include delineated congregations from throughout the community whose congregants reflect the community diversity of denomination, demographic and geography.  This can result in greater interest in and discourse based on an awareness of a greater diversity of personal perspectives.  From the shared experience of sorting food side by side, a relationship is formed with individuals who reflect demographics and philosophies different from their own.

This can result in greater individual attention to and engagement in local, regional and state deliberation on all community partnerships which address pressing community issues.

A structured Religion Sector, reflected in this section, provides for (a) an increase in a congregations ability to fulfill its commitment to serve the community, (b) the coordination by one or many community institutions of the recruitment of vast numbers of individuals for community service, (c) an individual sense of belonging to a “whole community” and not only a “self-selecting subset” – “BONDING AND BRIDGING” and (d) the increase of individuals in the community who are more engaged and informed about critical community issues and who share in the resolution of those issues in a more civil manner.

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Rabbi Jay Miller   RELIGION SECTOR 3.0
1.0  On the Town Square         2.0  Walls of Separation
3.0  Alignment: Among Congregations – Within Society
jaymiller@blueconnect.org      650.740.4411