POWER Local Organizing Committee
Image from Allentown Early Childhood Education Freedom School: Early Child Education Rally
from Deacon Carol Duncan
The Mission, Purpose, and Work of the Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields POWER Interfaith Local Organizing Committee (LOC)
What is POWER Interfaith?
The POWER Interfaith organization (People Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild) is a grassroots, multiracial, multi-faith network with over 50 Pennsylvania congregations committed to racial and economic justice to bring about systemic justice for those closest to economic pain in Philadelphia, Southeastern, and Central Pennsylvania. To achieve this commitment, POWER Interfaith is organized into five teams: Economic Dignity, Education Justice, Civic Engagement, Climate Justice and Jobs, and Live Free (justice reform).
What is St. Martin’s relationship to POWER Interfaith?
St. Martin's is a congregational member of POWER Interfaith. As a congregational member of POWER, St. Martin’s established a Local Organizing Committee (LOC). The LOC is a team within St. Martin’s to organize the congregation to work on one or more of POWER’s campaigns. St. Martin’s LOC meets monthly to foster relationships between the strategy teams of POWER Interfaith and St. Martin’s members. LOC members seek ways to contribute their time, talents, and gifts toward St. Martin’s ongoing work of inclusion, transformation, and public witness aimed at racial justice. St. Martin’s also financially supports POWER Interfaith by paying annual dues.
What is the mission of our LOC?
The LOC uses relational organizing to engage the St. Martin’s community to work towards racial and economic justice on a livable planet. The LOC and POWER Interfaith missions are aligned.
What is the purpose of our LOC?
Specifically, the LOC is focused on four goals:
- to connect, support, and empower parishioners who want to join a social justice campaign.
- to educate parishioners about the successes of POWER's operating model and campaigns.
- to mobilize the wider congregation for concrete actions to achieve St. Martin’s aspirational values.
- to discern and execute actions our congregation can undertake toward systemic justice for all.
What are recent examples of the LOC’s work and successes with POWER Interfaith?
POWER Interfaith is teaching LOC members the nuts and bolts of community organizing to help bring about changes our faith guides us towards. POWER Interfaith defines this model as helping “community leaders with the skills needed to reach out into their neighborhoods, identify common concerns, research possible solutions, and work with public officials and private businesses to put those solutions into effect."
- The LOC worked with POWER’s Civic Engagement Committee to set up phone banks and register people to vote. Many St. Martin’s parishioners participated in these endeavors.
- The LOC worked with POWER’s Education Equity Team’s campaign to achieve fair funding by the Commonwealth of PA for the Philadelphia School District.
- The LOC members and parishioners engaged in rallies, demonstrations and signed petitions throughout the state in support of this campaign. The LOC partnered with a local community school to witness the results of inadequate financial support for public school students of color. The campaign successfully produced a court decision that mandated fair funding of schools in the Philadelphia School District.
- The LOC worked with POWER’s Climate Justice and Jobs Team’s campaign to ensure that the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) transitions from the use of fossil fuels to a clean energy alternative and create clean energy jobs. The LOC signed petitions and letters to Philadelphia City Council and the Philadelphia Gas Commission requesting that PGW be funded to explore clean energy pilot programs. LOC members and parishioners attended budget hearings and presented testimony in support of this request. The campaign successfully produced the result that PGW was funded with sufficient money to conduct clean energy programs.
- The LOC’s team leader (Reverend Carol Duncan) joined POWER’s statewide “Freedom Express Bus Tour.” The tour stopped throughout PA and promoted “a faithful and inclusive vision for building a beloved community that is rooted in inclusivity, diversity, justice, and creation and inspire people of faith to denounce White Christian Nationalism.” This effort tied in with St. Martin’s “Under God” discussion by Dr. Philip Gorski on the rise of Christian Nationalism and what our faith guides us to do in response.
How can I get involved in the work of the LOC and POWER Interfaith?
POWER Interfaith local organizing committee’s current leadership is the Reverend Carol Duncan at St. Martin’s ([email protected]) and Matthew Arlyck ([email protected]) at POWER Interfaith. Contact Reverend Carol, Matthew, or speak to any St. Martin’s POWER Interfaith LOC member to learn more.
The Rev. Carol DuncanDeacon
The Rev. Carol Duncan (she/her) attended the Shipley School and William Smith College in Geneva NY, majoring in English Lit. After school, she moved to Canton, Ohio to run the remnants of a family business.
She married her husband Bob, who was Vice President Smyth Systems, a data processing firm specializing in country club and golf tournament systems. Their daughter Christie was born in 1968, Kate in 1973.
At St. Paul’s Canton she served on the vestry and as a church school teacher. With the Diocese of Ohio she served on the Peace and Justice Commission. She received the Betty Leo award for outstanding social justice work.
In 1988 she became the Housing Development Coordinator of ICAN Housing Solutions, a non-profit that developed permanent supportive housing for the homeless living with mental illness. She served as president of the board of Coalition for Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO), a nationally respected homeless advocacy organization.
She was ordained to the Diaconate in 1996. Her first parish was Trinity Alliance. In 2000 she returned as Deacon at her home parish St Paul’s where she served until 2011. Bob died in 2009. She retired from ICAN and moved to Philadelphia in September 2011. Her daughter Christie Duncan-Tessmer is General Secretary of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.
Carol is Co-Chair of the Economic Dignity Team of Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild (POWER). Its primary campaign is to create Philly solutions for Philly Poverty. A main thrust is to raise the minimum wage to $15 while supporting local businesses. Carol also serves on City Council’s Living Wage Committee and on the boards of Deaconess House Foundation, Teen UpRise, and Friends of the Chestnut Hill Library.
"My Trip on the Freedom Express" with the Rev. Carol
Write to Mayor Kenney for Voter Access Funding