VOICE is a coalition of about 50 religious congregations in Northern Virginia. These institutions work together for the common good of their communities through nonpartisan grassroots politics. St. Joseph’s VOICE ministry has a twofold function:
(1) COMMUNITY ORGANIZING – We participate in the larger organization’s political organizing structure and methodology. Community organizing is about ensuring that all people, especially those on the margins, can exercise their God-given call to participate fully in the civic and social life of their communities. In practice, organizing entails:
(1) finding out what social justice things people in the parish and the surrounding neighborhood are passionate or worried about;
(2) translating those passions or angsts into specific, actionable issues; and
(3) coming together to hold elected leaders, business leaders, and other power brokers accountable to work for change on those issues. Focus issues often have to do with ethnic and religious equity, education, community safety, the dignity of work, and affordable housing.
(2) EVANGELIZATION – The breadth of its interfaith, cross-sector, and civic engagement makes VOICE rich soil for Catholic mission. Our Church teaches that we should inhabit and transform “all spheres of human society with the light and the leaven of the Gospel.” St. Paul is a prime example. He engaged not only individuals, but also the institutional fabric of his time and place. In Athens he spoke in the marketplaces and in the Areopagus—central nodes of economic, religious, political, and cultural power. What are the “marketplace” and the “Areopagus” of our “Athens”? How are we leavening our institutional fabric, such that the “dough” of our public culture “rises” into the full richness and justice that God intends? VOICE is a crossroads where our leavening power can touch a broad array of public life.
VOICE was founded in 2008. Since that time, VOICE has organized in communities throughout the region in order to meet needs across a variety of issue areas, including affordable housing, foreclosure crisis accountability, immigrant rights, health and dental care, and youth. Click here to read more about VOICE’s history and accomplishments.
Membership requires attendance of region-wide VOICE actions and other critical public actions at the local level, such as city council meetings, school board meetings, etc. Plus, individuals can participate in many “behind the scenes” ways, such as conducting research, liaising with other social justice and advocacy organizations working on the same issues, building relationships with new community partners, coordinating with the parish’s other social justice ministries, etc. Anyone who is passionate about social justice is encouraged to give VOICE a look!