The ‘whole cloth’ of S-H-A-L-O-M is made up of six threads, each describing an essential element in the weaving of new community.
S is for the sustainable transformation that requires systemic engagement and structural change. Not simply a quick fix, nor program focused on immediate needs, sustainable transformation is the long-term improvement in community life — social, structural, and systemic changes that last. It often takes a generation to achieve and evaluate, and requires a long-term commitment.
Health, Healing, Harmony, and Wholeness
H focuses on community health, healing, harmony, and wholeness; Shalom in its fullness — for individuals, communities, and the world. “Health is the state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being…not merely the absence of disease” (World Health Organization). The skill associated with the H in Shalom is how to grow healthy communities by understanding the determinants of health and applying health assets.
Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD)
A in Shalom stands for Asset-Based Community Development — an approach that begins with the existing resources and strengths of a community rather than on its needs and deficiencies. Moving from charity to systemic change requires new ways of thinking about communities and the underlying causes of poverty. ABCD skills help communities identify, mobilize, map, and align internal resources and hidden assets. John McKnight, the originator of ABCD, explains the ABCD process “builds community from the inside out.” This approach enables people to see their community as a ‘glass half full’ of assets rather than ‘half empty’ with needs.
Love for God, Neighbor, and Self
L is for loving God, Neighbor, and Self. Love is the heart, soul, mind, and strength of the Shalom approach to community development. The skills required are spiritual practices developed over time to demonstrate the ‘value-added’ of Love-in-Action and faith-motivated community development.
Organizing for Community Transformation
O stands for organizing, a process where people who live in proximity to each other, or who share a common goal come together to form a coalition that acts in their shared self-interest. The practical tools and skills needed to organize for direct action includes how to analyze and work with power, assess self-interests, conduct individual meetings and networking. When speaking about the organizing methods of his movement, John Wesley, founder of Methodism stated, we “organize to beat the devil.”
Many Cultures, Many Faiths
M in Shalom stands for many cultures and many faiths working together to raise the quality of life in their community. Multi-faith, multicultural, multinational, and multifaceted collaboration can overcome past and present historic preconceptions and prejudices. It is the skill set required in order to mobilize assets, engage in community development, and build Shalom in our communities. By engaging systems, focusing on community health, mapping assets, loving God, neighbor, and self, organizing for transformation, and strengthening multi‐faith, multicultural relationships, Communities of Shalom transform the world, one community at a time.