The Michigan Organizing Project equips congregations and other organizations to work for justice in their community. What cannot be accomplished by one person, it can be achieved when we all work together.
The Michigan Organizing Project offers a way for groups to work together to change the underlying causes of poverty and injustice. Supporting education in Michigan and helping people to earn GED is also important.
We help individuals who want to pass the GED exam to prepare online for free while our consultants provide in-person support.
MOP was founded in Muskegon in 1991, expanded to Grand Rapids in 2000, and to Kalamazoo in 2003. In Kalamazoo MOP has focused on housing, health care, jobs and immigration policy.
HOW WE CHOOSE OUR ISSUES
The concerns worked on by MOP come out of yearly “listening processes” in the churches that are working with MOP. It involves people meeting in small groups (we call them “house meetings”) to reflect on their values coming out of their shared faith, and to compare their values with how they see our public institutions acting regarding people’s needs.
They then bring their concerns to a general assembly where all the concerns are listed, and votes were taken to choose the most popular concerns. These concerns are then studied by teams of MOP members who find out what is already being done, and what additional innovative approaches have been successful in other places.
HOW WE BRING ABOUT CHANGE
MOP has found that the most important factor in creating positive change is showing people in power that people of faith come together and speak with one voice on issues that matter to them. Therefore, MOP sponsors annual “action assemblies” at which the relevant decision makers are presented with carefully researched proposals that reflect a consensus among MOP member churches.
These decision makers are asked to commit to adopting and implement the proposals. In most cases, they either agree or at least promise to negotiate to find an acceptable “middle ground”. MOP then follows up to make sure that commitments given are carried out.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE RESULTS?
The Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to enact the first county-wide Housing Trust Fund in Michigan. Since then we have worked for permanent funding for the trust fund and to make sure that the program is run fairly.
MOP has also led the fight for immigrant rights in Michigan. We are currently at the forefront of efforts in Western Michigan to convince the Michigan Congressional Delegation to support comprehensive immigration reform. We have also won a new police policy protecting immigrants from enforcement of immigration laws by local police.
HOW DOES A CONGREGATION GET INVOLVED WITH MOP?
The first step is to identify group members who would be willing to host the listening sessions (House meetings) where congregation members share their values and evaluate the community in light of these values. MOP assists in this process, before a decision to join. Once the group agrees to join, they pay annual dues and get involved in research and action to make specific changes in the public policies they have identified.
HOW WE CHOOSE ISSUES
Historically, each year MOP has held an annual “listening process” to determine which issues are most important to the community. Each member organization held meetings of multiple small groups in their congregation to discuss which issues were of most concern to them. From there, all of those little groups gathered together in larger issues meeting to share their lists of concerns. The top three to four most common concerns were then taken on as issues for that year.
During the past two years, MOP congregations have noted that the issues to which we have committed are not issues that can be resolved in just one year (housing for the homeless, immigration reform, health care). Rather than dropping a problem and the group of people affected after one year, MOP congregations decided that we will continue to stand with them until our goals are achieved.
We also take you through the life of a Michigan young mother who chose to travel through Latin America. Check out her adventures as well.
Currently, our campaigns include:
- Housing for the Homeless
- Barriers to Employment
- Health Care
- Immigration Reform
- Worker Rights