Church Divinity School of the Pacific

Community Organizing and the CDSP Curriculum

“Models of effective leadership found throughout Hebrew and Christian scripture are broad-based, face-to-face, and public. These are also core characteristics of community organizing. CDSP began working with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), which is, according to its website, ‘the nation’s largest and longest-standing network of local faith and community-based organizations,’ to learn and practice leadership in the model of community organizing. Our faculty reframed the advisory relationship to recognize its public, and political, nature. Our faculty and staff engaged in one-on-one conversations, allowing us to learn from and about the driving narratives and values that inform our call to our particular ministries. And, most importantly, we explicitly incorporated community organizing training, concepts, and practices into our curriculum. As a result of these and other changes, CDSP is preparing our graduates to lead by recognizing and calling forth the power of individuals and institutions in our shared work of being and building the body of Christ.”

—Caroline McCall
Director of Field Education and
Assistant Professor of Congregational Studies

“Our partnership with CDSP has been important on many levels. Many people who come to the work of organizing do so through their faith, and it is important for them to be able to approach the work of organizing through a theological lens in order to be grounded within their own experience, tradition, and story. Another reason the partnership is important is that CDSP is preparing and equipping future leaders of the church and the IAF works with some of those same leaders and the institutions that they lead. It is important to us that the institution of the church be healthy, vibrant, and connected to its larger community. The extent to which we can help train future clergy as well as lay people to be better prepared for a changing world, better able to face conflict and issues of power, better able to meaningfully engage the stranger and ‘other,’ the better off we all are.”

—Anna Eng
Lead Organizer, Bay Area Organizing Committee
Industrial Areas Foundation

Sample Syllabi:
“Organizing for Public Ministry”

a curricular requirement for CDSP M.Div. students taught as a January-term intensive by IAF organizers and a CDSP faculty member

January 2018

January 2017

January 2016

January 2015