top of page
< Back

Coalition Building and The Arc of God’s Love

Valerie Jennings

Aug 26, 2023

The Black Catholic Deacons of Chicago held their 13th Annual Sunrise Prayer Service and Mass

Coalition building is necessary when the goal is to bring about change on a social problem that is beyond the influence of a single organization.

On this weekend eve of the 60th anniversary of the March On Washington for Jobs, and Freedom, the Black Catholic Deacons of Chicago, and the Diaconate Office of the Archdiocese of Chicago celebrated the 13th annual Sunrise Mass followed by the 2nd annual Peace Symposium, sponsored by the Black Catholic Initiative, and the Tolton Spirituality Center.

This year’s theme – “These Streets Are Holy”.

It resonated with the two guest speakers Phillip Bradley of NonviolenceWorks and Michael Okinczyc-Cruz of Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership. These are two coalition-building organizations aimed at transforming people organizing from a grassroots level in practicing the principles of Non-Violence while also practicing Catholic Social Teaching traditions.

Okinczyc-Cruz stated that building coalitions was at the heart of the Civil Rights movement. His examples included personal stories of his parents who worked in the migrant farm workers coalition movement during his childhood in California.  Okinczyc-Cruz provided examples of working in a coalition of pressing policymakers on issues that impact constituencies such as health disparities, employment, violence in all its forms, schools, the criminal justice system, housing, and more. The advantages of working in a coalition are:

·        Range of capacities beyond what a single organization has Increased access to resources

·        More channels for engagement with a wider set of individuals

·        Increased understanding of the values and attributes of other sectors

·        Coordinate efforts

·        Share information easily

Bradley is passionate about the work done by early pioneers of the Civil Rights movement and the legacy left behind by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The NonoviolenceWorks organization uses The Beatitudes (Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10) intertwined with the six principles of nonviolence:

·        Nonviolence is a life for courageous people

·        Nonviolence seeks win to friendships and understanding

·        Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people

·        Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform

·        Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate

·        Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice

Both presenters strongly embraced that as King stated “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” which is an affirmation of our faith. Changing behavior takes a long time, but it eventually happens. As in Hebrews 11:1-3 “To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.” 

In coalition building, it’s our faith that enables us to stay focused on visions for a more just world, sustained by the belief that as we join those who’ve struggled for liberation and justice will eventually win. Those who embody nonviolence and peaceful coalition building must hold on to faith – not in a prolonged protracted way, but to draw on faith that fuels the work of resisting unjust conditions.

As we move toward a more peaceful and nonviolent society it’s important that we remember that God is love, God is with us, God walks with us, God leads us and God guides.

The arc of God’s love is greater than one can begin to envision.


bottom of page