Congregational Partners – Frequently Asked Questions
What is the pledge to which a Congregational Partner commits? “Advocating for social justice in the ‘halls of power’ is a part of our mission and we partner with the Virginia Interfaith Center to help us do that.”
What is the advantage of joining the network of Congregational Partners? Congregational Partners join their voices with people of faith from across the state. Together, our faith communities represent a powerful, moral voice for social change. Participation in the network also provides faith communities with access to Virginia Interfaith Center’s wide range of advocacy resources, from education curriculum and legislative updates to advocacy training and leadership development.
How do we determine what issues to work on? The Virginia Interfaith Center relies heavily on our faith communities to help determine our advocacy issues. We encourage faith communities to discern issues by communicating with their local communities and reflecting on their religious traditions. The VICPP Board and Chapter leaders then develop a strategic agenda, usually focusing on one top-tier issue and a few additional issues. The Center has previously worked on issues related to hunger, homelessness, economic justice, the environment, sustainable agriculture, education, healthcare, criminal justice reform and human rights.
Does becoming a Congregational Partner require that we support every position the Virginia Interfaith Center takes on individual issues? No. Becoming a Congregational Partner simply means that a faith community affirms our shared calling to advocate for a more just and sustainable world. How you and your faith community carry out a ministry of advocacy in your local context is up to you. When the Virginia Interfaith Center takes a position on a particular issue, it is a recommendation that we hope individuals within your faith community will consider and engage with.
Does participating as a Congregational Partner require a financial commitment? Yes. A part of being in VICPP’s statewide network of Congregational Partners is a regular financial contribution, at a level that make sense for your budget. Congregational Partners can make VICPP a line item in your annual budget or special mission allocations, collect a special offering for VICPP, or host a fundraiser that benefits VICPP’s advocacy. Congregational Partners are also encouraged to let VICPP know of endowments or other funding sources in your community to which we can apply for funds, and attend or sponsor our annual VICPP awards dinner fundraiser in the fall. Your contribution makes a difference!
Is VICPP a lobbying organization? VICPP is a 501c3 organization that works on economic and racial justice issues. The organization educates and equips its leadership and volunteers to speak directly to government officials as one method of doing advocacy, but the work is always done in a nonpartisan manner and the advocacy work is well within the limits established by the Internal Revenue Service. The network of Congregational Partners empowers and supports faith communities and individuals to seek social change through a variety of means, including education, direct action and religious witness.
Will becoming a Congregational Partner affect our tax status? No. Becoming part of the network will not affect your tax status. 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from certain political activity like, for example, endorsing candidates for political office. VICPP does not take positions on candidates, only on issues. Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations are permitted to engage in public education, hosting of candidates’ forums when all candidates are invited, encouragement of voter participation, and endorsement of initiatives, among other activities. For more information, contact the VICPP office at (804) 643-2474.