United Church of Chapel Hill is a founding partner congregation in the Orange County Justice United, which is a community organizing group focused on building power for sustainable social and economic change. The organization has identified six broad issues on which to focus its leadership development, relationship building, research,and organized action efforts. These are: health care, education, living wages, immigrant families, affordable housing, and the environment. There are many ways to get locally involved in these issues.
- Structure: Orange County Justice United In Community Effort (Justice United) is a broad-based, multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-issue, strictly non-partisan citizens’ power organization dedicated to making change happen on social justice issues. It is served by a professional organizing staff and is affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation – the oldest and largest community organizing network in the country. Justice United is a parallel organization to Durham CAN (Congregations, Associations, and Neighborhoods), which has a long history of success.
- Progress: Initial steps in Chapel Hill started back in 2006, but the public launch in 2009 happened at UCCH with more than 450 leaders from 37 diverse institutions. Action teams are currently organized and working on the following priorities: fair jobs and wages, affordable housing, environmental justice, education, immigrant families, and health care. Previous success for change has been reflected in the prevention of a citation for the Rogers Road Waste Transfer Facility and getting Chapel Hill to adopt a living wage policy indexed to inflation.
- Get involved: Simply attending a full assembly meeting once or twice a year sends a strong message to the politicians who are present. Attending County Commissioners, Town Council, or Board of Aldermen meetings to support specific issues has a critical impact. Anyone wishing to support one of the priority areas is welcome to join in discussions with those teams, contribute to research on the issues, help formulate and carry out communication and action strategies, and/or attend monthly countywide meetings. Participation at any level is a wonderful opportunity to put our faith and values into action.