I’m off to the PICO National Gathering of Clergy, in New Orleans. I’m hoping they will make specific reference to the Occupy movement and ways clergy and faith communities can work either directly with it or pulling alongside in the same direction. Peninsula Interfaith Action (PIA), the PICO-affiliated faith-based-community-organizing group to which my congregation belongs, has been working on economic justice issues since its founding, and they often overlap with the issues raised by this movement.

Just last summer, PIA leaders were putting together a presentation on the banking crisis and its connection to our communities, including actions we could take, such as asking our cities to take their money out of the bailed-out banks unless those banks agreed to certain behavior toward the people of the city. We could see the connections, but we were really worried that others wouldn’t and therefore wouldn’t be interested enough to show up. I mean, banks. Yawn. Now people are talking about banks all the time. Several weeks ago, I was in line at a grocery store in Palo Alto and the woman ahead of me and the checkout clerk were chatting about moving their money into a credit union. Interesting cross-section of classes, there: chances are, as it’s a pretty upscale grocery, the woman in line has a lot more money than the checker, but they were united.

So the community is concerned about these issues, and making connections between their money as depositors and what banks do as lenders, and likewise, between what banks do as lenders and the housing misfortunes of their neighbors and communities (and maybe themselves). Part of what PIA does for me is help me see myself and members of my congregation as community organizers. That implies a lot of skills that I’d like to hone.

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