At a congregational meeting on Sunday, Sept. 18, Old First voted to become a founding member of the new interfaith, city-wide community organization, P.O.W.E.R. (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild). P.O.W.E.R.’s Founding Convention will be Sunday, Sept. 25 at 5:30 p.m. at Tindley Temple United Methodist Church at 750 S. Broad Street.
Old First had been involved in an earlier community organization, PIA (Philadelphia Interfaith Action). It now joins other Protestant and Catholic Churches, Synagogues and Mosques to make Philadelphia a city that works for everybody. Read the text of the Resolution by which Old First voted to join P.O.W.E.R.
If you want to know more about P.O.W.E.R., the best way is to participate in one of its action. But the FAQ SHEET below, that was prepared for the congregational meeting, might also begin to sketch an understanding for you:
Membership: Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild (P.O.W.E.R., an interfaith movement) is a broad-based community organization whose membership is made up of “religious congregations of any denomination or creed operating in the City of Philadelphia who have expressed a commitment to the purposes of POWER and who agree to share in the governance and budget of POWER. A list of involved congregations can be found at the end of this FAQ sheet.
Purpose: P.O.W.E.R. empowers ‘regular people’ — representing the diversity of communities across Philadelphia — to identify the problems facing them and the city, particularly where systems meant to serve them have broken down. P.O.W.E.R. builds relationships and conducts research in order to organize resources that can advance concrete policy changes to address these problems and breakdowns and improve our city for all its residents.
Non-profit: P.O.W.E.R. is organized as a not-for-profit organization according to the PA State Law of Nonprofit Corporation Law.
Non-partisan: As such, P.O.W.E.R. shall not take partisan positions in any campaign in support or opposition of a candidate for electoral office. Likewise it will not take a position on any issue raised in a campaign to support or oppose a candidate.
Affiliation: P.O.W.E.R is one of approximately 40 faith-based community organizations in a network network called the PICO National Network (People Improving Communities through Organizing). PICO provides training and support to lay leaders, clergy and staff. P.O.W.E.R. pays a membership fee to PICO, based on its annual budget. It is expected that fee in 2012 will be $6,000 to $9,000.
Goverance: P.O.W.E.R. has been governed through its start-up by a sponsoring committee made up of the clergy interested in its founding.
The By-laws, now approved by the state, establish governance by a Board of Directors that will be composed of 2 members from each member congregation. The Board will elect annually an Executive Committee whose officers will include an Executive Director, Co-chairs, Secretary, Treasurer and Communications Coordinator. There will also be organized a Finance Committee and a Nominating Committee and other committees as directed by the Board of Directors.
The Founding Convention on Sept. 25 will serve as a passing of the baton from the sponsoring committee to the Board of Directors.
Executive Director: At the Sponsoring Committee’s most recent meeting, it accepted the recommendation of the Executive Committee to hire the Rev. Dwayne Royster as Executive Director. Rev. Royster has been serving as a part-time organizer for P.O.W.E.R. He is also Pastor of Living Waters UCC and an ordained UCC pastor.
Funding: P.O.W.E.R. will be funded by its member contributions, figured on .5% of their annual budgets, up to $7,500.
It will also seek additional support from outside funders. P.O.W.E.R is currently supported by financial contributions from the William Penn Foundation, the Samuel S. Fels Fund, the Philadelphia Foundation, the Allen Hilles Fund, the Bread & Roses Community Fund as well as national funders including the Presbyterian USA Fund for Congregation-Based Community Organizing, the Presbytery of Philadelphia and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
Issue areas of focus: From the 1000+ 1 on 1 relational meetings and 45 research meetings that P.O.W.E.R. leaders have conducted throughout the city in the last year, 5 primary issue areas have been identified: Jobs, Education, Public Safety, Housing and Health Care.
Congregations and groups of congregations are encouraged to work on issues of their neighborhoods’ needs. Other P.O.W.E.R. congregations will support their efforts.
Citywide, P.O.W.E.R.’s initial organization-wide focus initially will be jobs and education.
By-laws: A copy was available at our congregational meeting and will be available at other times upon request.
More than 40 congregations from across the city have played a role in the building of POWER since 2009. Together these congregations represent more than 20,000 individuals who live, work and/or worship in Philadelphia. These congregations reflect the racial, ethnic, religious and economic diversity of our city. More are getting involved each week.
The following congregations are participating in the work of launching POWER:
Arch Street United Methodist Church (Center City)
Calvary/St. Augustine Episcopal Church (Mantua)
Calvary United Methodist Church (Southwest Philadelphia)
Chestnut Hill United Church (Chestnut Hill)
Congregation Levy-Ha-Ir/Heart of the City (Center City)
Congregation Rodeph Shalom (Spring Garden/North Philadelphia)
Cookman United Methodist Church (North Philadelphia)
Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Church (South Philadelphia)
Evangel Chapel (North Philadelphia)
Grace Christian Fellowship (Southwest Philadelphia)
Harold O. Davis Baptist (Logan)
Holy Innocents Catholic Church (Juniata Park)
Holy Spirit Lutheran Church (Oxford Circle)
Kol Tzedek Synagogue (Southwest Philadelphia)
Living Water United Church of Christ (North Philadelphia)
Mater Dolorosa Catholic Church (Frankford)
Mishkan Shalom Synagogue (Roxborough)
Morris Brown African Methodist Episcopal Church (North Philadelphia)
Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Center City)
Mt. Pisgah African Methodist Episcopal Church (Mantua)
Mt. Tabor African Methodist Episcopal Church (North Philadelphia)
New Life Ministries (South Philadelphia)
Old First Reformed United Church of Christ (Center City)
Philadelphia Praise Center (South Philadelphia)
Prince of Peace Lutheran (Lawncrest/Northeast)
Second Baptist Church of Germantown (Germantown)
Society Hill Synagogue (Center City)
Spirit and Truth Fellowship (Hunting Park)
St. Benedict’s Catholic Church (East Germantown)
St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church (Harrowgate)
St. Malachy’s Catholic Church (North Philadelphia)
St. Martin‐in‐the‐Fields Episcopal Church (Chestnut Hill)
St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church (Cedarbrook)
St. Rita of Cascia Catholic Church (South Philadelphia)
St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church (West Philadelphia)
St. Therese of the Child Jesus Catholic Church (East Mt. Airy)
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church (Germantown)
St. William Catholic Church (Lawncrest/Northeast)
St. Paul Baptist Church (North Philadelphia)
Sweet Union Baptist Church (West Philadelphia)
Tindley Temple United Methodist Church (South Philadelphia)
West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship (Southwest Philadelphia)
Woodcrest United Church of Christ (Cedarbrook)