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About Us Brief Milestone 2000 2001 2002 USC study  
About Us   
 What is our purpose?

     We are a national organization which
encourages evangelical, pentecostal and holiness
churches to participate in existing local
congregation based community organizations.



A Brief Description of CSCO

After several years of planning and individual meetings with hundreds of Christian leaders across the country, Christians Supporting Community Organizing ("CSCO") was founded in January 1997 by a broadly-based group of respected Evangelical, Holiness, Pentecostal and related Christian leaders.

CSCO seeks to enlist local congregations of its faith perspectives in the growing congregation-based community organizing movement in America. The community organizing movement is an effective effort for social, political and economic justice, for leadership development and church growth and for building churches as faithful communities. It now involves thousands of churches and other faith-based institutions across the country in its activities. Yet few churches of our CSCO faith perspectives are involved.

To make participation in congregation-based community organizing "thinkable," CSCO has developed a biblically-based theology. Our parts of the church share the centrality of Scripture. Although justice for the poor, the discriminated against and the marginalized is a major theme in the Bible, it nevertheless is too often neglected in our circles.  CSCO continues to deepen the biblical, theological and historic bases for its action and makes on-going biblical reflection and study an integral part of its work.

In general, our parts of the church (with the exception of many African-American strands) view their faith as a personal or private matter and view social problems as the result of failures of individual morality. Yet a majority us, like a majority of Americans, are deeply disturbed by many things taking place in American life. For those who are people of color or experience low-income, there are the ongoing problems of racism and classism. People all through our congregations share a growing economic insecurity, with longer hours spent working and commuting. We sense that the country has lost its direction and has a diminished moral framework for civic life.

The American community organizing movement is offering a constructive response to the present crisis in America. The initiators of CSCO believe our Evangelical, Pentecostal and Holiness congregations, now largely absent from this movement, should be part of it. We are convinced that we can contribute to community organizing and community organizing can contribute to our mission. Community organizing addresses real problems, fosters mutual respect among groups of people, understands that both government and private corporations must be held accountable and is deeply respectful of democratic processes and traditions.

Historically, Evangelicals played major roles in movements to abolish slavery, end child labor, achieve women's suffrage and unionize workers. By 1920, much of this history was lost. Early Pentecostal work was multi-ethnic and committed to community but these commitments also dissipated with time. A major part of CSCO's work is to review and restore these histories so that they can inform a strong commitment on the part of today's church to social and economic justice. We want to revive historic traditions, now largely lost, when our faith perspectives were at the forefront of the anti-slavery, women's suffrage, child labor reform and similar social movements. CSCO continues to deepen the biblical, theological and historical bases for its action and makes on-going biblical reflection and study an integral part of its work.   

In addition to providing a vehicle to address justice issues, congregation-based community organizing is also a vital tool for building the body of a congregation. It deepens existing personal relationships, challenges members to link faith to action and provides opportunities for leadership growth and development. It enables members to act on their own deeply felt concerns and relates these concerns to larger problems in the surrounding community. Because congregation-based community organizations are diverse in character, membership in them links local congregations to other Christians, as well as people of other faiths, with whom they share basic values. These broadly-based organizations also create the opportunity for people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds to come together, develop relationships with one another and act on common values and interests. It also provides an opening for evangelistic work by bringing us into contact with non-believers in a context when our deeds open a door to our words.  

CSCO's strategy has been to develop a national committee of respected leaders from among our faith perspectives. Because of who we are and because of the theological and historical work we collectively do, we seek to persuade our congregations of the biblical, theological and historical faithfulness of congregation based community organizing as a vehicle for mission and community building. Further we seek to help link our congregations to the more than 200 congregation-based community organizing projects that are now in every major metropolitan area of the United States.  

CSCO's Founding Meeting took place in January, 1997. A constitution, rules for credentials, member financial obligation and program were adopted by the Founders. A national "Leadership Team" was elected. Since that time, Annual Meetings have taken place to elect or re-elect the national Leadership Team and to adopt an annual program. In addition, the Annual Meetings are a time of worship, deep reflection, celebration and continuing education.

Christians Supporting Community Organizing was initiated by its organizer, Marilyn Stranske, a respected Evangelical leader, and a small group of others who view congregation-based community organizing as an important vehicle for community building and mission. The initiating group included Dr. Vernon Grounds, Chancellor and President Emeritus of Denver Seminary, Dr. Robert Linthicum, Executive Director of Partners in Urban Transformation and author of Empowering The Poor and City of God, City of Satan, Rev. Kenneth Luscombe, Director of the Office of Urban Advance, World Vision International and Dr. Alice Mathews, now an endowed faculty chair holder at Gordon-Conwell Seminary.

Financial support for CSCO has come from its members, public and private foundations, denominational bodies and other individual donors.

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  CSCO, P.O. Box 60123, Dayton, OH 45406; email: cscocbco@aol.com phone: 508-799-7726