Over the past several years, three monthly meetings in Philadelphia–Monthly Meeting of Friends of Philadelphia (Arch Street), Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, and now Germantown Monthly Meeting–have joined a broad-based interfaith coalition founded in 2011 under the name Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild, or POWER.
POWER, affiliated at the national level with the PICO Network, aimed then (and still does) to bring congregations together “across lines of race, income level, neighborhood and faith tradition to build broad-based power for policy change.” In addition to fifty-plus congregations affiliated with POWER Philadelphia, POWER now has both staff and member congregations at work in Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery, and Chester Counties (POWER Metro) and York, Lancaster, Dauphin, and Lebanon Counties (POWER Central PA). There is also POWER Northeast, with a focus on the Lehigh Valley.
Five major thrusts of POWER’s work are as follows: The Live Free Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform, currently addressing cash bail; the Health Care Campaign; the Economic Dignity Campaign, working on concerns such as the living wage; and the Education Campaign, pushing for a fair funding formula for public education in Pennsylvania. Recently, Quakers have been in collaboration with POWER on a sixth campaign, Climate Justice. POWER and Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) are working together to press PECO Energy both to shift towards solar and to create green jobs in low-income neighborhoods in Philadelphia.
Central Philadelphia Meeting has a group of Friends especially involved with the work of POWER. We meet monthly; individuals from other meetings are welcome to attend. We would also be glad to describe our experiences in the organization to other Friends meetings located in regions where POWER is organizing. We feel that Friends have a lot to offer in interfaith work–and that we have much to learn as well.
For more information, feel free to contact me: Sara Palmer, co-coordinator of CPMM’s involvement in POWER.