Where We Work
We are a national organization with a regional focus.
Our work centers on the American South–the region of the country with the highest religious participation rates in the United States. The South that has had a decisive influence on the social, political, economic and cultural character of the nation. It is thick with history–colonization, slavery, migration for labor, the Civil Rights movement, patterns of struggle, and resilience in the face of unthinkable odds.
The South continues to be the fastest-growing region in the country. The U.S. Census Bureau notes that from 2010-2011 38 of the 50 fastest-rowing counties were in the South. In 2013, eight out of the ten fastest growing metropolitan areas were located in Southern states. This growth is due in part to an increase in Latinos in the region, the “re-migration” of African-Americans to the region, and a growing economy with emphasis in the banking and manufacturing sectors.
Yet the rising Southern tide is not lifting all boats. Today the South is at a crossroads as the gap between the rich and poor widens with devastating consequences:
- Approximately 1 in 6 people (18.9 million) in the South live below the poverty line.
- 15.7 percent (over 7.2 million) of Southern households are food insecure with families not knowing where and when they will receive their next meal.
- Over the past decade Southern communities from the Gulf Coast to Appalachia were disproportionately impacted by devastating ecological disasters including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005), the Deep Water Horizon (BP) Oil Spill (2010), the Alabama-Mississippi Tornado outbreak (2011), and Elk River Chemical Spill (2014).
The South is fertile ground for mobilizing faith communities to work on economic disparities by leveraging a tight existing network of community stakeholders, faith communities, and organizers in the region. At the Faith Matters Network,we believe that Southern communities already have the tools necessary to close the inequality gap. We can do so by launching movement sparked by moral imagination-–the humility to see the world as it is and the audacity to imagine the world as it could be—among people of faith that ignites the creativity, ingenuity, and collaboration to make our vision of more just, compassionate, and sustainable communities a reality.