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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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JONAH hears God's call

They do ministry through community organizing

Congregations are very good at dealing with individual issues, such as feeding the hungry or sheltering the homeless,” said Paul D. Oppedahl, pastor of Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Chippewa Falls, Wis. “That’s like parking the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, which is better than nothing, but there’s a biblical mandate for dealing with what’s at the top of the cliff: building a fence to prevent falling in the first place. In order to do that, you need to have the power to make a difference, and the only way you can do that is if you have a shared voice.”

Photo by Steven Kinderman
Oppedahl, pastor of Our Saviour Lutheran, Chippewa Falls, Wis., distributed brochures and talked with people about JONAH, a congregation-based organizing group.
Congregation-based organizing, Oppedahl said, is a way to do that work on a deep level.

Oppedahl is a founding leader of JONAH, a year old congregation-based organizing group in Eau Claire, Wis. The Lutheran, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Unitarian, Quaker and Unity congregations involved have a mission “to deepen relationships within and among faith communities” and “empower people in addressing the root causes of social injustice.”

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