Dear IMPACT Members, Fellow Citizens of Charlottesville and Supporters:
The mission of the Interfaith Movement Promoting Action by Congregations Together or IMPACT, is to empower the faith community of greater Charlottesville to create significant social change through unified direct action. We are made up of 27 congregations, including Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Unitarian Universalists and numerous Protestant denominations. We are ethnically, socio-economically and politically diverse. Our many differences could divide us, but our congregations have chosen to work together for fairness and justice for all in our region. We do this to live out the central value of loving our neighbor as ourselves, as our sacred texts teach us:
- The Jewish perspective in Leviticus 19:17-18: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
- The Christian perspective in Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
- The Islamic perspective taken from the Qu’ran, Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 13, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 45, the prophet Mohammed says: “None of you has faith until he loves his brother for his neighbor what he loves for himself.”
- And the Unitarian Universalist Church affirms the “inherent worth and dignity of every person” and “justice, equity and compassion in human relations.”
Because of this call, we denounce all forms of hatred and bigotry, especially those that targeted the Charlottesville community this summer: the Ku Klux Klan Rally on July 8, 2017 and the Unite the Right Rally on August 12, 2017. These groups and rallies are perpetuated by fear, despair and scarcity which runs counter to the narratives of community, love and abundance described in our sacred texts. We will continue to do our part in fighting these false narratives through building power and unified direct action, to ensure our community reflects one that our creator intended. Further, because we are in this fight for the long haul, we will continue to have hope for a fair and just community. In the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
In Love and Power,
IMPACT Board of Directors
IMPACT Team Members are working to build their networks. Find where you are in your congregation’s network here!
IMPACT’s mission is to empower the faith community of greater Charlottesville to create significant social change through unified direct action.
Charlottesville has over 700 direct service organizations that give direct aid to victims of systemic injustices; in 2006, local clergy decided to dig up the roots of these problems. They began to build IMPACT, an organization with the power to take direct action that addresses the systemic causes of injustice, inequality and poverty.
IMPACT is not a direct service organization. We do not provide individuals with direct charitable services such as food or shelter. Rather, IMPACT is a direct action organization. We focus on addressing the root causes and the systemic reasons that people to need charity. We empower local leaders to identify community problems, develop solutions, and negotiate publicly with the decision-makers who can implement these solutions.
Since its founding IMPACT has grown to a membership of 27 congregations that represent over 15,000 people in Central Virginia. Comprised of Roman Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Unitarian Universalist, and Muslim traditions, IMPACT is spiritually, racially and economically diverse. Our work builds strong relationships across racial, ethnic, and socio-economic lines.
Although our membership is drawn from faith-based institutions, our mission is not to push religious doctrine; IMPACT is a vehicle for people of faith to act on their call to do justice. Faith is our motivation, not our mission. Our faith calls us to discover and address problems in our community.
In its short existence IMPACT has won victories on an array of community issues including transportation, housing, dental and mental health care, education, and interpretive services. These are all large-scale changes to the community that actually change the lives of individuals on a micro-level.
Every year members take part in a grassroots listening process to uncover problems in the community. This process is conducted through small group meetings and individual conversations. Once problems are surfaced, members democratically select which to tackle.
Once a problem is selected, our trained volunteers conduct extensive research with local stakeholders. After the problem is defined, they develop solutions to be implemented by local decision-makers. To ensure follow-through, we seek public commitments from these decision-makers.
These commitments are made at our Nehemiah Action Assembly– the largest public meeting of the year in Charlottesville. Every year we organize the power of over 1,500 community members to press for commitments to more just and equitable policies.