About SDOP

What We Do and How We Do It

"We are all children of one God. There are no children of a lesser God in this world, and we must stop acting as if there are." - Bishop Robert McElroy 

What is faith-based community organizing?

Our role is the development and transformation of people who learn to transform the world. We teach and support our grassroots leaders to unite communities, address our collective needs, and improve the quality of life for our families. Together, we are building a new vision of what is possible in San Diego County.

1. We listen to each other to understand local concerns.

By listening carefully to what matters to our community we uncover the issues that unite our neighbors.

  • We challenge leaders to listen to the concerns and ideas of our neighbors through individual one-on-one meetings, house meetings and listening campaigns. As a result, community leaders establish a broad following and choose issues that matter most to our communities.
  • We influence public policy from the ground up, starting with local problems faced by families and then doing careful research. As a result, we have created some of the most valuable policy innovations in housing, education, health care and public safety in the United States.

  • We bring people together based on faith and values, not just issues or anger. As a result, our congregations have the ability to act on a comprehensive vision for the common good of their communities, cities and regions.

  • We help congregations identify and solve local neighborhood issues before addressing broader issues at the city, state or national levels. As a result, our congregations are deeply rooted in local communities.

2. We teach local leaders to make their voices heard in public life.

We use proven tools and strategies to elevate community voices to fight for the values we all believe in.

  • We provide intensive leadership training that teaches people how to use the tools of democracy to improve their communities. As a result, we are led by ordinary people who have learned to successfully use the levers of power to bring resources to our communities.
  • We teach the art of compromise and negotiation. As a result, community leaders find common ground with public officials who are both Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal, to bring needed changes to communities.

3. We turn faith into action.

We empower 300 worshippers at church on Sunday to become 300 advocates at City Hall on Monday.

  • We build community organizations in religious congregations, which are often the only stable civic gathering places in many neighborhoods. As a result, our congregations are able to engage thousands of people and sustain long-term campaigns to bring about systematic change at all levels of government.
  • We take the time for leaders to meet with public officials and policy experts to research how things work and who really has the power to make changes. As a result, community leaders become the experts and are able to get to the root causes of problems facing their communities because they are the ones closest to the pain and most likely able to figure out real solutions.
  • We do public business in public through large action meetings. As a result, our congregations gain the reputation for being able to gather together large numbers of people over and over to hold themselves and public officials accountable.