Creating a Regional Transportation Authority in Detroit by Connecting City and Suburban Interests: A Different Kind of Stew

MOSES addresses the problems facing the city of Detroit and its suburbs. With nearly 70 congregations, two universities, including the University of Michigan, and dozens of allies in business, senior citizen, and environmental groups, MOSES successfully supported the creation of the Detroit Area Regional Transportation Authority. Primarily a congregation-based organizing project, MOSES sets aside denominational differences and focuses on what the congregations have in common for improving the quality of life for their communities. Their approach includes the following:

  • Amplify the Power of the Pulpit: MOSES has a diverse base of congregational members. Its strategies include one-on-one relationship building, convening a city-suburban clergy caucus, issue organizing, leadership training, holding large public rallies, and mobilizing people from each congregation in order to show their strength.
  • Choose Issues that Cut Across Dividing Lines: The regional transportation campaign enables MOSES, which was traditionally viewed as a neighborhood organization, to be a force in greater metropolitan Detroit and its suburbs. The campaign cuts across geographical, age, religious, racial, income, and educational lines. According to MOSES Executive Director Ponsella Hardaway, "We've had suburban congregations and urban congregations coming together and sitting down one-on-one and exploring our own emotions and feelings about race and the history of the region, because there have been such walls that have been built up over the years."

In this leadership story, Kovari, Hardaway, Barlow and their colleagues describe their approach to building community power and influence in the Detroit metropolitan area.