The grassroots organization Durham CAN (Congregations, Associations, and Neighborhoods) recently underwent a transformative process, described as necessary heart surgery by Clergy Co-Chair Rev. Molly Brummett Wudel. Rev. Wudel urged the group to have the courage to eliminate any tendencies towards narrow-mindedness, apathy, or acceptance of the status quo within CAN, which hindered their ability to engage in genuine, challenging, and revolutionary efforts toward justice, equity, and meaningful change. She reminded them of the vital heart surgery required to "bind together the inclusive power of people and resources while returning to the foundational principles of organizing to become the most formidable and impactful organization we can be."
A total of 641 individuals gathered from 31 member institutions, focusing on Affordable Housing, Bilingual Building Inspectors, Gun Violence, and ARPA funding issues. Duke Memorial United Methodist Church in Durham, North Carolina, warmly welcomed a diverse group of faith-based, community, and neighborhood residents who shared a common desire for positive change in their city. According to Rev. Heather Rodrigues, the purpose of their collective gathering was to pursue justice more effectively.
Rev. Wudel expressed her conviction that the heart of CAN remained strong, recognizing the existing power within the gathering. She encouraged everyone to unite as a potent and diverse collective force, embracing their strength and proclaiming, in the words of her daughter, "Special power. Special heart. Ba-bum, Ba-bum, Ba-bum. Ba-bum."
The institutions and partners affiliated with CAN proudly demonstrated their strength and resolute determination by publicly reaffirming their commitment to the cause. They pledged their support in human resources and financial contributions exceeding $80,000. The 26 institutions represented more than 10,000 citizens of Durham and also committed to CORE team training, advocating for ARPA funding, and promoting the appointment of bilingual building inspectors.
Bishop Herbert Davis, one of the founding members of Durham CAN, played a significant role in outlining the vision for the forthcoming crucial work in Durham. He passionately explained the organizing principles of CAN and emphasized the significance of collaboration with the public and elected officials. Bishop Davis highlighted the distinctive nature of CAN, which has yielded remarkable outcomes for the community's most marginalized members.
The gathering resonated with impassioned stories shared by mistreated laundry workers, communities burdened by recent surges in gun violence, and the pressing need for day shelters for the unhoused and affordable housing solutions for all.
Rev. Tanya Johnson, going off-script, underscored the importance of compassion among the attendees. Her heartfelt reminder reinforced the significance of their collective efforts. Rev. Johnson concluded by inspiring unity, declaring that Durham CAN had been called to this vital work, aiming to build a more robust network of individuals, amplify their collective power, and achieve meaningful progress.