We are the Faith-Based Initiatives group of the Camden, Philadelphia and the Region course at Rutgers-Camden. Our intent is to share information to the greater public of how Faith-Based organizations throughout and neighboring Camden affect the community, in hopes that it will inspire individuals to jump in and get involved as well. We believe that the city of Camden has much more to offer than the violence and crime that floods the media. Our group will be working with churches and attending meetings to shed light on the good in the community and provide information and opportunities to get others involved.



Faith Based Institutions have long had an important place in our cities, and Camden is no different. Their presence is inescapable and extremely important in filling gaps among social services. According to Hudnut (2004), “These pioneer institutions for urban rebirth create change in three ways: 1) they change lives for the better; 2) they deliver social services that otherwise would not reach needy people; 3) they advocate (and fight for) systemic changes in policies, structures, and behaviors that are at the root of injustice. All three can be found in Camden” (p. 209). Every few blocks in Camden you will find a church, or faith based institution, where you will find all three of those things happening. Perhaps the most grassroots and advocacy oriented is CCOP, Camden Churches Organized for People. This organization is part of the PICO Network and seeks to bring together people from all churches and parishes in Camden to unite for progress and change. They have seen extreme success in bringing people together, getting them involved and rallied around the issues in their city, and ensuring that all social service providers were aware of what everyone else was doing. To see their long list of accomplishments in the City, you can visit their website at

Below is a list of other faith based institutions that have been present in the city for a long time.

In April of 1976, an International Eucharistic Congress was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in which four residents of Camden attended a session given by Mother Teresa. Inspired by her session, these four young residents formed a conference of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, thus forming the Cathedral Kitchen. For several years, the founders scraped together both donated food and funds to support their program. In the 1980s, they began an operation called “the casserole program” involving hundreds of people baking homemade casseroles to give to the less fortunate at the Cathedral Kitchen. In the 1990s, the Cathedral Kitchen was finally granted tax exemptions and the recognition as a 501 (c)(3) corporation, a huge step that allowed the Cathedral Kitchen to be eligible for grants and also be the beneficiary of tax donations. In 2007, Cathedral Kitchen raised enough money to open a new building and reached a personal goal of serving over 100,000 meals in that year.

St. Anthony of Padua served their first lunch in the basement of St. Anthony of Padua church in June 1996. There were many volunteers ready to serve on that day, but residents were so fearful of AIDS and HIV, both individuals infected and affected, that only one person came to receive lunch. Yet, with the church's persistent determination, St. Anthony of Padua was serving 12 residents every Tuesday by Thanksgiving. Four years later, the church moved to their new location on Concord Avenue, and opened their doors on Fridays as well, where they still reside and serve those suffering with HIV/AIDS.

St. Joseph's Carpenter Society was founded in 1985 with a goal to help families to better their quality of life by creating safe neighborhoods in Camden through home ownership. In 1993, SJCS created the Campbell Soup Homeowner Academy, This academy provided information for community members and potential homeowners to help them become more informed and financially responsible. Since 1993, over 6,700 residents have participated in these home ownership classes, which are required if they want to own a home, In June of 2000, SJCS was awarded the President's Service Award, the most well-known and reputable awards given to both individuals and organizations involved in solving critical social problems.

Since 1984, the Heart of Camden has rehabilitated over 220 homes in Camden. Their numbers do not stop there, recently completing a 28 space parking lot on Broadway, The Heart of Camden hopes to have these spaces used for various community events. With hopes to keep Camden clean, seven heavy-duty trashcans were also installed on Broadway. New lighting, sidewalks, and garden boxes were also added to make the 1700 block of Ferry Avenue a model of how Camden could be improved. The Heart of Camden was also one of the first organizations to work with the New Jersey Tree Foundation, in which they take part in two large tree plantings per year, assisting in bettering the appearance of Camden.

Contact information for these organizations can be found below.

Recent Policy

Most people can only imagine what it is like to be hungry, cold, struggling to clothe your children, worried about their safety, stressed because the electric bill was due last week and the rent is due this week? One can envision the feelings of isolation and the sense that the weight of the world is on people who struggle for basic needs and security. This is a challenge that an extremely high amount of Camden’s residents face each day.
Faith-Based Organizations have been a consistent source of refuge to the marginalized in the Camden community. As times have changed and the need to provide and receive basic needs, faith-based organizations have continued to work toward achieving their mission of “Improving the quality of life and empowering Camden residents with the tools needed to rebuild Camden”.

Cathedral Kitchen mission is to provide essential life services that support the health and well-being of those in our community. For the past three decades the core programs has been to serve meals in their dining room. Serving meals Monday-Friday 4-5 pm and Saturday 12-1pm consisting of nutritious meals with proteins, vegetables and or salads, a starch, beverage and dessert. CK provides over 200,000 meals but also provide 7,400 meals for local after school program, traditional housing programs and other agencies. Food that CK doesn’t use they call local food pantries or smaller soup kitchens to pick up the food so it doesn’t go to waste. CK always relied on volunteers to make their program possible. There are 7,000 slots to be filled each year to serve meals, saving CK thousands in staffing costs. Serving food isn't the only thing that volunteers due other roles consist of picking up or delivering food or helping in the office. Volunteers come from diverse backgrounds and faiths from all ages that come from the city or the suburbs. Bringing an extreme dynamic coming together for a good cause “people of all nations” can work together.


Volunteer application-

Summer time is Cathedral Kitchens biggest time of needs. The kitchen is closed on Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Christmas, and News Years Day. On Thanksgiving the Volunteer Center of Camden County uses the kitchen to provide a holiday meal and also provides room for the staff to enjoy their meals with their families.

For younger volunteers easy tasks can help that can be done at home in school or with their faith based organization to provide utensil packets, place mats of decoration with short messages, and centerpieces to make the CK dining room for festive and creative.

(CAT) Culinary Arts Training was launched back in 2009 its first job training initiative. Program targets residents of Camden who are unemployed or underemployed, unskilled or at risk of homelessness. This program has no tuition fee textbooks, study material; chef uniforms and shoes are all provided and funded by CK. Afterwards students are employed by agencies that have a high demand of job assistance in shelters, halfway houses for the local Camden population. CAT operates twice a year for 17 weeks with a curriculum of various cooking and baking methods along with food safety and sanitation. As of 2013 164 students have graduated from CAT and 73% have gained employment within three months.
Class 9
Class 9

CAT application and requirements-

Other program like “Project Smiles” is a dental clinic that provides FREE basic dental treatment to Camden residents who have no insurance. Open Wednesday and Friday year round based on appointment after 9:30 am also based on the volunteer dentist’s availability.

Project Smiles phone number: (856) 964-6771

The location of Cathedral Kitchen is 1514 Federal Street in Camden New Jersey. A recent strategy envisions an expansion for CK to increase the culinary training opportunities alone with generating an income to support CK main mission. When the building next to CK went up on market a plan was set in action. 2012 a project called “Serving up Hope in Camden” underwent. Generous donations pushed renovations to the building with plans to develop it into a large production kitchen. Goals of providing income to afford the opportunity to expand the culinary training program include dry storage area for supplies and donations, a rooftop garden for fresh vegetables and herbs. Most important build a café that would be open to the public managed by CK chefs and staffed by the students and graduates of the culinary program.

“When Cathedral Kitchen says the change lives one plate at a time, I’m living proof of that,” says the lead cook Lebaron Harvey who spoke in front of full room of guest and the mayor of Camden on opening day.

As of Friday April 17, 2015 Cathedrals Kitchen’s Café opened and in May will be open to the public.

Cathedral Kitchen was able to obtain all their goals for the expansion when they first started about four years ago. The new renovations of a roof top garden, along with a new baking program that will kick off in August with its first class of already 12 students enrolled. The Café has 35 employees that are teaching 16 new employees as nine of those were already trained through the program.

Cathedral Kitchen was able to raise 2 million out of their goal of 2.3 million from individuals, corporations and private foundations that have made “Serving up Hope in Camden” possible.

external image -d322999be89e7438.jpg

The Franciscan’s (St Anthony of Padua Parish) offers after school programs for youth. Their mission is to teach the importance of being environmentally friendly. They also provide free gently used clothing for those in need.

St. Joseph’s Carpenters Society (St Joseph’s Pro-Cathedral) provides classes for adults on how to purchase a home, how to handle the responsibilities of home ownership, promotes community ties, and provides stability. Sisters of St Joseph also promote immigration and equality for this population. (Visit Nuns on a Bus website to find out more)

Heart of Camden rehabilitates abandon homes and helps low to modern income families to secure [[#|a mortgage]]. Heart of Camden was also involved in the rehabilitating of Waterfront South Theater. Renovating an obviously rundown Camden is also a project in which they actively facilitate and participate. Other accomplishments include “Ferry Avenue Streetscape” and “Peace Park.” They were instrumental in having the Broadway trash cans painted as well as having trees planted throughout the city and in community gardens.

As one can see that Faith-Based Organizations provide quite a selection of services and projects that support the community and help those in need. Listed below is a contact information list for anyone in need or for those who would like to be part of the stewardship.

Camden Churches Organized for People (CCOP)
2270 Federal Street
Camden, N.J. 08105
( (856) 964-6771

St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society
20 Church Street
Camden, N.J. 08105
(856) 966-8117

Heart of Camden
1840 Broadway Street
Camden, N.J. 08104
(856) 966-1212

Cathedral Kitchen
1514 Federal Street
Camden, NJ 08105

Cathedral Kitchen
1514 Federal Street
Camden, N.J. 08105
856) 966-8869


One of privileges we have as members of the Rutgers-Camden community is viewing a daily, picturesque view of the City of Philadelphia. On a brisk summer day, one might even take a walk over the Ben Franklin Bridge from Camden, New Jersey to Philadelphia to take in its iconic scenery – an Instagram selfie here, a Facebook cover photo there. To public perception, Philadelphia might seem like the place to be; it’s ‘always sunny in Philadelphia,’ as the TV show claims.

But then there is the view from Philadelphia looking toward Camden. Other than the city’s iconic Nipper trademark hovering atop the historic RCA Victor Loft, Camden’s view may not seem nearly as aesthetically pleasing. The walk back from Philadelphia to Camden and its deepest regions is a scene of abandons factories, empty lots and broken windows that have not been fixed.
A couple years ago, Cramer Hill’s St. Anthony Padua Church launched an initiative that brought attention to Camden’s abandon building problem. The project that became known as the “ugly house” contest, involved residents taking pictures of Camden’s most dilapidated buildings and voting on which structures were considered the ‘ugliest.’
It was not enough for St. Anthony and participating residents to address Cramer Hill’s nearly two hundred abandoned facilities as eyesores to the community, which they believed would drive down nearby property values. They also thought that the city should take more ownership overseeing the problem. Eventually, the city adopted the Abandon Property Rehabilitation Act. Through this law, Camden created an abandoned property list and enabled the city to take possession over sites that were vacant for six months.
Residents and St. Anthony Padua Church were praised for their efforts to change this policy. One columnist from the Courier Post wrote, “The real winners are everyone in Cramer Hill, who will be newly armed with more details about this blight on their community and, we hope, newly unified in their demands to get rid of these buildings.”
It is likely that if you interviewed individuals throughout the city of Camden, each and every person would be able to name other critiques about numerous things in the city. When interviewing two church leaders from Asbury United Methodist Church, we asked a few questions, such as " What critiques do you have of other churches or church based organizations that work within Camden?"
The home of Asbury UMC resides on 2220 Woodlynne Avenue, in Woodlynne, NJ. On a technical level, Woodlynne is Camden's close neighbor, but if you are familiar with the area, the distinction between the two cities is one, maybe two blocks. Reverend Dennis L. Blackwell, the lead Pastor of Asbury, notes that the lines are practically blurred and Woodlynne, his church included, receives "all the impacts of urbanization" just as Camden does. Regardless of their specific location, Pastor Blackwell and Reverend Tim Merrill (another church leader of Asbury as well as the President at Concerned Black Clergy of Camden) are highly involved in the Camden community with programs such as youth intervention, monthly food programs, tutoring programs for academics and literacy, basketball programs coupled with a mentoring program, alternative education for Camden students who ceased their public school education, a work in progress job readiness program and so many more. They both have made substantial progress in the city, so the ability to constructively critique others has been earned.
When asked the previous question about other churches/church organizations, Pastor Blackwell mentioned that faith-based groups need to understand all of the social, political and economical aspects that create poverty. "[We] need to create wealth, need to strategize to pull our resources together" says Blackwell about churches in Camden. He also notes that "churches in Camden have a lot of leverage that they're not using that they could use to impact public policy". Rev. Tim Merrill had a similar answer: He stated that Camden churches need to have "greater vision for the city than that which directly affects their institution. Churches and faith based organizations must do the best good for the people that live in Camden's neighborhoods". He then gave an example of how the heart of Camden rehabs houses for affordable housing, however, they do it in one of the most toxic neighborhoods in America. They do not necessarily have the "best good" in mind for the people.
When asked to comment/critique the political side of Camden, such as what is being done through the government, etc. Lead Pastor Blackwell stressed how there is "no plan for economic recovery". Reverend Tim's answer was coming from a more social standpoint rather than economic. He spoke of how the government needs to "refrain from holding disdain from residents" and that they need to stop depriving them of their voice. He also mentioned how people need to "stop being beholden to interest outside of Camden". The process of attracting outlying cities needs to cease while the voices of the residents of Camden are pressing to be heard. He ended his answer by stating that people must "pay more attention to process - the whole process of transforming the police department had very little civic engagement involved and the voice of Camden was not heard".
Both leaders joked of how they could talk for a lifetime about the city of Camden, for there is much work to be done in it. Their concern and critiques are valid, for they are true advocates of the city and the people and youth that reside in it.

Sacred Heart

external image Father-Michael-and-students-May-2009.jpg
Sacred Heart Church, part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden, has been a part of the Waterfront South neighborhood since around the turn of the century. Many distinguished identities have visited Sacred Heart, including Mother Teresa. Sacred Heart School, a catholic elementary school, has been in operation since January 1920, when it was formed by then-pastor of Sacred Heart Church, Father John B. McCloskey. Today, church members are not exclusively Catholic, particularly since demographic transitions of the 1970's. An important component of the Sacred Heart identity is what member of the community refer to as "liturgy that leads to justice".

Present-day pastor of forty years, Father Michael Doyle, by his personal history, illustrates well the depth of the Sacred Heart community's commitment to justice. Many are familiar with the story of the Camden 28, a group of Catholic anti-Vietnam War activists arrested in Camden during an attempt to remove draft documents at the New Jersey draft board office in Camden, as an act of protest. The group was acquitted of charges after it was determined the FBI had broken the law by using an inside informant to incite the event.

Since the 1980's Sacred Heart has moved into the task of rehabilitating built structures to be made residentially available to home buyers in the neighborhood at affordable mortgage rates. Approximately 200 houses have been made available to the neighborhood since that time. As an extension of this project community resources including a theatre, a thrift store, and gymnasium have opened in Waterfront South. The neighborhood has been continues to be burdened by a pervasive unpleasant scent due to presence of a water treatment facility, despite apparent measures by the facility to manage the effect. In 2005, the Center for Environmental Transformation was founded with the mission of acting as retreat and an urban farms functioning to educate people on urban farming, environmental challenges, and social justice.

external image Theatre-Opening-127.jpg

Emerald Street
external image 2013_0719CF.jpg

Jasper Street
external image 2014_0604AD.jpg


Newton Monthly Meeting

external image Meetinghouse_Camden_NJ_A.JPG

Quakers, a protestant section formed in 17th century England by George Fox, have been meeting in what is presently City of Camden since at least 1681, at which time the area where earliest meetings seem to have taken place was identified under the title Pine Point on the Delaware. As we know Pine Point still refers to a neighborhood in North Camden. The present meetinghouse, however, is located in the central business district. Settlements on the eastern shore of the Delaware river pre-dated those opposite. Early development in the Camden and Philadelphia region is inextricably linked to the influence of Quakers--The Religious Society of Friends. Perhaps the Quaker of most enduring influence in the region was William Penn, a statue of whom can be observed atop Philadelphia's City Hall.

Philadelphia Quakers have a long history of social justice organizing and advocacy. Some of the first schools in Philadelphia open to folks escaping slavery were run by Quakers. Another notable figure was abolitionist Lucretia Mott of Arch Street Meeting, a signatory of the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments. In general, Quakers are committed to non-violence. While many meetings around the world are "programmed", most meetings in the Philadelphia region are "un-programmed", meaning members sit silently "in the light". A major component of Quaker belief system is concept of "continuing revelation", i.e. through silent worship Friends will be lead by the spirit to a "sense of the meeting" regarding any decision. During silent worship anyone feeling "moved to speak" may. Quakers continue to influence international politics through missions in developing countries and lobbying in US Congress via Friends' Committee on National Legislation, for example in voicing opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

external image 1f99cc44-e380-4061-bc9f-903577b37281.jpg

Varying built structures around Camden have served as the place for worship of Newton Monthly Meeting since the 17th century. The present meetinghouse, originally constructed in the 1820's, is located on N 8th Street between Cooper and Market Streets. To be clear, Newton Meeting gathers for worship in the schoolhouse located on the same property.

Activities at this site include the following:

Meeting for Worship,
Sundays at 10:30 AM (first and third Sundays),

Children's Garden in partnership with Eco Charter School,
Tended by students of the charter school during school hours.

The Garden Project, for women at a local halfway house transitioning out of incarceration, in partnership with Haddonfield Quarterly Meeting,
Volunteers are welcome to arrive Saturdays at 10:00 AM,

Camden Food Not Bombs chapter,
Volunteers are welcome to arrive Sundays at 10:00 AM (second and fourth Sundays).

external image FNB_logo_color_small.png'_Meetinghouse


Faith in Prevention

Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More, a model developed and implemented in several locations notable North Carolina, has recently been launched on a trial basis in Camden as part of a collaboration between Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers and Camden Area Health Education Center (AHEC). The basic components involve, on the part of the Coalition, identifying and enrolling about a dozen eligible faith-based organizations in a health education program with the intent of activating faith communities in the prevention of illness. This initiative seems to have emerged from ongoing brainstorming between the Coalition and Camden Churches Organized for People (CCOP), an advocate for faith-based community organizing.

During February and March 2015, the identification and final selection of eligible participant faith-based communities took place. There are several phases to the program including the focused training of at least three members of each community in details on maintaining records on the health behaviors of community members. Moving forward health providers and faith leaders will work together to conduct nutrition education within respective faith communities, facilitate meal planning, and facilitate transitioning of community members to more active lifestyles. AHEC will be conducting assessment of success rates.

Father Jeff

Community organizer and Jesuit priest Father Jeff Putthoff has made contributions to the resolution of social inequities in Camden by training and employing young people at Hopeworks in North Camden. He is a supporter of a trauma-informed theory of social change and has recently facilitated the addition of trauma scholar Dr. Sandra Bloom to the Hopeworks board of directors.

Here is Rev. Livingston, director of CCOP, discussing, among other subjects, the value of faith-based community organizing:

Here is Father Jeff of "Hopeworks n Camden" discussing trauma-informed care:



Lutheran Settlement House 1902
In 1902, Lutheran Settlement House (LSH) was founded as the “Lutheran Social Mission Society of Philadelphia,” a special urban ministry of the Lutheran Church in southeastern Pennsylvania. Lutheran Settlement House has, since its inception, served vulnerable children, adults, families, and senior citizens living in inner city Philadelphia, regardless of race, gender, income, or religious or political affiliation. The core mission of Lutheran Settlement House — “to empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through an integrated program of social, educational, and advocacy services” — has remained constant.

Catholic Social Services is one of the oldest faith based organizations in Philadelphia. Founded in the year 1797 Catholic Social Services was focused on Children who were orphaned, have special needs or were delinquent. During the year 1912 Catholic Social Services became a national charity. During the year 1948 Catholic Social Services expanded their services to include adults with special needs. The time period from 1950 – 2000 has been a time of tremendous growth for Catholic Social Services. They have expanded in areas such as immigration, advocacy, public housing, community development, resettlement houses and revitalization of neighborhoods ( )

Philadelphia Pennsylvania has a very rich history of faith based organizations. Throughout time many organizations and programs that originated in the city have gone on to be national programs. Project HOME is one such program that has proven that there is potential that issues of homelessness can be resolved. In 1988 Sister Mary Scullion and Joan Dawson McConnon founded Project HOME which has been a leading program in providing comprehensive and effective services to persons who experience chronic homelessness. Project HOME grew out of the experience and expertise of two programs that had been providing services to homeless persons, Bethesda Project
Project HOME co-founders Sr. Mary Scullion And Joan Dawson McConnon

and Women of Hope. Furthermore as the years have passed Project HOME has expanded their services to address addictions, mental health, job training, education and transition back to independent living ( ).

Habitat for Humanity-Philadelphia was first founded by Millard and Linda Fuller in Americus, Georgia, in 1976. Today, Habitat for Humanity operates all over the world and has worked to not only build, but to renovate and repair over 600,000 affordable homes, sheltering more than 3 million people. Specifically, Habitat Philadelphia was founded in 1985 and has built over 170 homes throughout the city. These homes have aided in the empowerment of over 600 individuals, allowing them to achieve self-sufficiency though home-ownership. (

external image Habitat_Philadelphia_logo_facebook.jpg

The Cornerstone Christian Academy, funded in 1988, is a Christian school located in southwest Philadelphia. A place where poverty, crime, and violence is prevalent, Cornerstone Christian Academy sees it's self as a “beacon of hope” for families that want a positive and promising future for their young students. The Cornerstone Christian Academy has always been a successful inner-city private school. They consistently serve over 200 students from Kindergarten through 8th grade. Approximately 95% of Cornerstone Christian Academy's graduates earn their high school diploma in four years, while about 66% of these students go on to pursue an education at a post-secondary school.

external image organization_logo.png

Recent Policy

A city as historically rich as Philadelphia has many roots in faith and the presence of faith-based initiatives remains today. MOFI, the Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, currently seeks to be the liaison between the Mayor’s office and the city’s leaders in faith. Through this office, they hope to “promote value-added participation in the activities of local government that enhances quality of life in the city. MOFI mutually translates the nuances of government and our rich traditions of faith while advocating on behalf of our shared values and commitments.”

Another very present faith-based initiative in Philadelphia is Project H.O.M.E. Co-founded in 1989 by Sister Mary Scullion, Project H.O.M.E. is an organization that is “rooted in our strong spiritual conviction of the dignity of each person.” Their presence in Philadelphia is very strong and covers education, medical care, job training, and affordable housing – all tying back to their main focus of homelessness. Their work directly relates to policy in the city, as they have a department devoted to Public Policy, Education, and Advocacy. They use their platform to share the voice of those who are poor, homeless, and/or disabled.

Project H.O.M.E.
1515 Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Telephone: 215-232-7272

Another recent faith-based initiative in Philadelphia is that of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disability Services. In 2005, they noticed the importance of faith and spirituality in the battle against addiction. They “created a Faith-Based Initiative to build partnerships with city churches, mosques, and synagogues to reach members in various faith communities. These coalitions provide another way to connect people with behavioral health and developmental disabilities with needed supports and services.” This effort has allowed DBHIDS to reach over 400 faith-based and community organizations. Through this they have been able to educate community members about health issues, as well as offer their patients more support through faith and community leaders.

1101 Market Street, Suite 700
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 685-5400

Focusing on the private religious-based education system in Philadelphia, the Center for Catholic Urban Education at Saint Joseph's University has been in charge of many Private Catholic schools in Philadelphia and Camden. Trying to give a mixture of religious practices while simultaneously providing an education by state standards has been the core of this group. It becomes more difficult as years go by and the state mandates more changes to educational standards. "The Saint Joseph's University roundtables are a special story in a time of challenge and creativity for Catholicism in Philadelphia", (Allen, 2014)

VAN ALLEN, R. (2014). Room at the Table. America, 210(4), 27-29.

A Faith-based Initiative that focus on feeding and caring for the homeless is Chosen 300 Ministries. They have indoor and outdoor meal programs at 4 different locations across the city. Even after the ban on outside park feedings of homeless people the ministry continued to do so while at risk of paying a fine (Zaimov, 2012). Their goal is to feed people physically and spiritually, as their banner proclaims.

Chosen 300 Ministries Outreach Center 1116 Spring Garden Street Philadelphia, PA 19123 (215) 765-9806


The abundance of faith-based organizations within the city of Philadelphia is nearly impossible to ignore. A church can be found nearly every couple of blocks, some even sharing a street with one, two, or more neighboring churches. It would be foolish for the government not to work with these institutions to better their communities. Recognizing this long ago, churches and faith-based institutions became largely involved in the government with such projects like the refugee resettlement in the United States as well as partaking in studies conducted to see how churches address health issues such as HIV/AIDS. It was assumed that faith-based institutions could make the most positive impact in this because "unlike other social service providing institutions, religious congregations are primarily voluntary communities that are united by a common religious identity or function". While this statement stands true, a study on refugee resettlement in Philadelphia was conducted and the conclusion came to be disappointing:

Of 1,392 congregations, 129 responses indicated some provision of or support for programs for refugees. Of the 129 congregations, 28 provided formal services focused on refugees needs. The remaining congregations provided financial or volunteer support for a refugee resettlement program or other programs meeting the needs of resettling refugees.

Numbers continued to decrease as the involvement intensified. As it turned out, most religious affiliated organizations were ineffective in refugee settlement due to lack of personal involvement. A critique given by churches in Camden was that more churches need to be invested in the greater good of the people; self profit and self interests need to be done away with. If more churches in Philadelphia abided by these values, there would be much more visible progress made throughout the city because it is clear that the government depends on faith-based organizations in many aspects.

Contrarily, the faith-based organizations that are made up of truly concerned citizens that commit time and energy to pose positive impact in their communities are not being quiet in the community. Institutions like "Nueva Esperanza, a faith-based organization founded to help the Hispanic community of North Philadelphia". They are constantly working to provide "economic opportunities through a variety of social service programs" and have earned their grant from Sovereign Bank, N.A. of $600,000 toward their economic revitalization plans. They saw changes that needed to be made in the city and took it upon themselves to work for it. Organizations like this, "led by visionary activists and thought leaders" are needed to provoke change for the better throughout Philadelphia.

Faith-based organizations have represented systems of reliable social services for many living in poverty. They have become in greater demand as a result of a battle in moral and political ideology regarding the use of welfare services. This can be interpreted as a conflict of proposals that vary between a more liberal ideology and one that favors a drawback in state and/or federal aid to those that are underprivileged.

The pressure is mounting on faith-based organizations to restructure their own social constructs and welfare programs as the demand for less publicly sponsored programs increase. Some have responded to these changes more effectively than others, including those in the City of Philadelphia, which renowned urban theorists consider to be a model for the nation.

Urban anthropologists such as Judith Goode, a faculty of the Department of Anthropology at Temple University, do not underestimate the importance of Philadelphia’s development of faith-based initiatives. In her essay, “Faith-Based Organizations in Philadelphia: Neoliberal Ideology And the Decline of Political Activism,” Goode writes that the influence of Philadelphia’s faith-based initiatives even extended into the White House.

“Philadelphia has played a key role in the development of faith-based social service initiatives,” said Goode. “Churches in Philadelphia have often been cited as the models for these efforts. John Dilulio, the first head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, based his work on the transformative role of churches on his experiences growing up and living in Philadelphia.”

During the 1960s-70s, Philadelphia’s faith-based organizations were tied to political action and social justice ideals of the civil rights movement and War on Poverty. In her research, Goode studied the impacts of faith-based initiatives through analyzing the racially mixed regions of the city, including 1980s, when clergy represented mixed congregations in Philadelphia.

“Their struggles deemphasized race and emphasized class and place,” Goode cites. "They tended to use the theories and tactics of Saul Alinsky, who came to believe that churches (which he saw as commanding trust, respect and loyalty) should be key building blocks of community activism.”

But the global income gap has widened over the years. In Goode’s research, this is reflected in a “class-polarized Philadelphia,” and on a broader scope, has resulted in a discourse of faulting poverty on the poor. The focus on social justice has shifted to an assertion that individuals should participate in a “market-oriented individual entrepreneurship and/or strong patriarchal family values,” Goode cites.

Goode went on to further conduct a case study that examined an urban ministry in Philadelphia called, Community Church, that moved from the ideology from activism to neoliberalism, paternalism and patriarchy.

“Paralleling the mission shift,” Goode writes, “was a shift from a flattened hierarchy with increasing closeness and trust between the white suburbanite leaders and local residents of color to an organization with new fault lines developed along the axes of class, race and gender.”

As a result, Community Church began to emphasize activities that prepared residents for the labor market through training in technical skills and an individual-centered approach.

Goode, Judith. Department of Anthropology, Temple University. “Faith-Based Organizations in Philadelphia: Neoliberal Ideology And the Decline of Political Activism." The Institute Inc. Vol. 35 (2-3), 2006. <>

Nicole Ives MSW, PhD , Jill Witmer Sinha MDiv, PhD & Ram Cnaan MSW, PhD (2010) Who Is Welcoming the Stranger? Exploring Faith‐Based Service Provision to Refugees in Philadelphia , Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought, 29:1, 71-89, DOI: 10.1080/15426430903479270

PR, Newswire. "Sovereign | Santander Commits $600,000 To Revitalization Project In North Philadelphia Through Nueva Esperanza Program." PR Newswire US 20 June 2013: Regional external image arrow-10x10.png. Web. 5 Mar. 2014

Sturgis, Donielle, "The Role of African-American Churches in Addressing HIV/AIDS and Other Health Issues in Philadelphia" (2012). external image arrow-10x10.png Thesis and Capstone Presentations. Presentaion 52.

Other Cities


The Apostles’ House (TAH)--Newark

Beginning in 1982, The House of Prayer Episcopal Church noticed a growing number of hungry and homeless in Essex County NJ. Because of this growing number, they began providing emergency shelter and food to families in the downtown Broadway area of Newark. In 1984, their organization grew, adding Trinity cathedral and St. Phillips Church, Christ Church Short Hills, St. Luke’s Montclair, and St. George’s Maplewood. Together, they established the Family Emergency shelter which is now known as The Apostles’ House. Since then, it has grown to be a successful and thriving 501 ©3 social service agency. It has a staff of 48 people and their organization’s budget is almost $2.5 million. Their mission statement is “to provide comprehensive social services to homeless and at-risk families and individuals in the Newark area.” Through their services, they have helped thousands of people by not only providing services, but also by encouraging these individuals to become independent and self-sufficient.

New Community Corporation --Newark

In 1967, civil disorders tore through Newark’s Central Ward and the media and political leaders described Newark as one of the country’s most hopeless cities. These disorders took a large toll on Newark, leaving 23 dead, more than 1000 injured, almost 1600 arrested, and over $15 million worth of property damage. There were no homes, jobs, or hope for the city and The Central Ward of 1967 started to look very similar to bombed-out and destroyed cities in Europe after World War II. Newark was at it’s lowest point and left most residents, mainly poor minorities, in desperate need of housing, jobs, and social services. The now founder of New Community Corporation, Monsignor William J. Linder, described it saying, “I used to tell people I was convinced someone was going to put a fence around Newark and we’d end up living on a reservation.” He then stated “My own thinking was that we needed to get a development corporation committed to low-income neighborhoods, and the disorders forced us to get together and start implementing.”
From there, New Community Corporation was developed. In 1968, Father Linder, and a group of other dedicated individuals met at Queens of Angels Church.The original NCC Board of Directors included Willie Wright, President; Timothy Still, Vice President; Elma Bateman, Secretary; Arthur J. Bray, Msgr. Thomas J. Carey, Joseph Chaneyfield, Robert Curvin, Kenneth Gibson and Father Linder. They met to decide their overall goal; to create both safe and decent housing for poor residents within the Central Ward. In order to ensure success and satisfaction, this would include involving the residents in the design process.
They proposed developing a 45-acre tract–South Orange Avenue to the north, 15th Avenue to the south, Jones Street (now Irvine Turner Boulevard) to the east and Bergen Street to the west–covering fourteen city blocks in the heart of the Central Ward and started building. Since then, it has grown to actively create options for housing, health care, education, training, childcare, and economic development. It has spread worldwide, and has since hosted representatives from more than 20 countries. It has become a major and successful movement in Newark and the redevelopment of inner city neighborhoods.

Tri-City Peoples Corporation--Newark

Developed in 1966, the Tri-City Peoples Corporation, a non-profit community development corporation, has provided services to low-income and disadvantages individuals in Newark, NJ. Led by Edward Andrade and his wife Rebecca, a group of civil rights and clergy worked to make an immediate impact on Newark’s inner city neighborhoods after the Newark riots.
Particularly concerned with the general health and welfare of the area’s families, the founders realized the importance of creating “neighborhood-based direct service programs that would strengthen and lend support to needy families.” Specifically, their programs and services respond to issues caused by inefficient education, individuals searching for employment, and healthcare services. Individuals more affected by these challenged are mainly African-American and Latino. Annually, Tri-County Peoples Corporation serves more than 8,500 individuals and has overall enhanced the family life of them while also contributing to the individual growth of these individuals.

Rutgers Community Outreach Partnership Center:
(Provides more resources and information about Faith Based Initiatives)

Recent policy in Newark

The Community of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal has been helping the "materially poor" by running homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and youth programs. They also consider living in the area as a way of service.

The American Friends Service Committee (Quaker owned) has an office set up in Newark that runs 2 main programs Immigrant rights, and Healing Justice. The Immigrant Rights program integrates legal services, advocacy, and organizing, providing legal representation in challenging immigration cases. It also gives a voice for Immigrants in NJ policy debates. The Healing Justice Program trys to work with the mass imprisonment system to provide better conditions for the incarcerated

89 Market Street, 6th Floor
Newark, NJ 07102
Fax: 973-643-8924

The Newman Club in Newark has a mobile soup kitchen called the "Extra Mile" and Bible study for homeless women run by college student called "Ladies Rest".
973-624-1301 91 Washington St. Newark, NJ 07102

World Impacts' Newark Branch has established a Christian school as of 1984 for students from K-7th Grade. They also have a Thrift store which provide good quality products at a low price. Profits go towards missions. They also have a seminary school provided for English and Spanish speakers called the "Urban Ministry Institute"

275 Sussex Avenue | Newark, NJ 07107 | tel 973.483.3833 | fax 973.483.5525 |

Recent Policy

Faith Based Initiatives in Baltimore

Baltimore, a city of over six hundred thousand residents, has a great presence of faith-based institutions and initiatives. Like Philadelphia, many of these programs are centralized into the state government through the creation of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives, which is home of the Faith Based Coordinator. This center brings together the knowledge and resources of faith based institutions throughout the state – many of which operate in Baltimore City. These institutions play an important role in filling the gaps created by the limitations of city government and amount of resources available for redistributive policies. Examples of these institutions and initiatives can be found below.

Current Faith Based Organizations that operate in Baltimore City include, but are not limited to:

“Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD). This is a broad-based community power organization, rooted in Baltimore’s neighborhoods and churches. We are non-partisan, interfaith, multiracial, and dedicated to making our city a better place for all Baltimoreans to live and thrive.

Central Maryland Ecumenical Council (CMEC) is the common instrument of the Christian community in Baltimore city and adjacent counties. We focus our efforts in the areas of human services/social justice, interfaith dialogue and ecumenical worship.

Baltimore Jewish Council (BJC) is the designated political and community relations arm of THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and its agencies.”

“Baltimore Regional Initiative Developing Genuine Equality (BRIDGE) is a congregation-based organization uniting communities across denominational, racial, geographic, and socio-economic boundaries in the Baltimore metropolitan area in order to create equity and justice by changing policies that perpetuate concentrated poverty and deep disparities between communities.”

Johns Hopkins School of Public Health has created a branch of Faith-Based Violence Prevention Initiatives. “The Center has collaborated with and will continue to develop partnerships with a number of faith-based and other local city organizations including the Mayor's Office and other agencies with a common goal of reducing or preventing youth violence in Baltimore City.”

These organizations target various issues – from development to HIV testing – and provide services to those who otherwise may not be reached.


It goes without saying that most faith-based initiatives have played an integral role in facilitating social welfare services. These programs range between health-care, external image arrow-10x10.png and youth advocacy programs.

Amidst the recent economic recession, a decrease of demand for publicly sponsored programs began to grow. During that period – under President George W. Bush –faith-based groups were highly touted as a solution to providing social and economic welfare reform. Initially, it was a struggle for faith-based groups to adapt to this change in paradigm. Before, people could rely on federal anti-poverty programs that were rooted from 1960s to 70s to provide economic relief.

In Baltimore’s case, these slashes in government programs affected many religious groups. Suddenly, faith-based initiatives in Baltimore had to take a more proactive approach in providing welfare services. Many groups were uncertain of the future of anti-poverty initiatives.

“Here in Baltimore, a city notable for its unpretentious charm but also its deep social problems, the federal shift away from traditional community development programs has generated widespread uncertainty,” said Washington Post staff writer Michael Fletcher.

In his article “Two Fronts in the War on Poverty,” Fletcher wrote in response to a growing concern that affected Baltimore during Bush’s government cuts in the mid-2000s. His 2005 report showed that various community leaders were convinced that their groups were replacing government services. Only then, faith-based initiatives were finding a lot of success.

“While the anti-poverty groups are confronted with an uncertain future,” Fletcher reported, “church-based organizations that often provide similar services but often have less experience are flourishing.”

Various sects of Christian faith-based denominations have been the center of Baltimore’s historical development. Among these groups have been Methodists, Baptists and Episcopalians. One of the more prominent religious-based groups has been the Catholic Church.

Baltimore is one of several U.S. cities to have a division of Catholic Charities in its region. Its services in Baltimore and the state abroad are substantial. There are eight shelters throughout Baltimore and the greater region alone, compared to just three in the City of Camden that currently feed regularly. My Sister’s Place Women’s Center in Baltimore city, for example, is a day program for homeless women and children that provides case management, life skills workshops and up to three meals per day.

Another group includes the Weinberg Housing and Resource Center, (WHRC) which provides temporary overnight housing. Through their case management program, WHRC ultimately provides resources and referrals to poor residents in the city of Baltimore to help people achieve permanent housing and self-reliance. Joseph’s House in Camden, NJ models a specific program of providing meals and referrals to help homeless residents achieve self-reliance. In addition, the Catholic Charities of Baltimore city has a program set in place called Our Daily Bread Employment Services. This program is structured toward helping the poor and homeless into a skills based transition of rejoining the workforce.

As seen in many cities, it is common to see government officials turn to Faith-Based Organizations for help. Similarly, Newark's Faith-Based groups are sought out not only by government and political figures, but by educational institutions as well. Rutgers University-Newark is home to RCOPC or Rutgers Community Outreach Partnership Center. The university has developed relations with multiple community organizations, many of which are faith-based. By definition, "The Rutgers Community Outreach Partnership Center (RCOPC) is a university initiative, managed by the Center for Urban Policy Research, to assist community-based organizations in the revitalization of the West Side Park neighborhood in the Central Ward in Newark, New Jersey." While this initiative is not a specific critique of any one, two, or three policies, it exemplifies the need for faith-based organizations when attempting to connect and positively change a city or community. Contrarily, it demonstrates faith-based organizations active participation and involvement in these initiatives and willingness to allow other organizations to be involved to expand their role in bettering the community. They recognize that, with their mission, the only way to ensure progress is to stay involved and partner with others, also.



2014 Class Task Force

Our suggestion and vision for the city is that there will be more government involvement with FBOs (faith-based organizations). To do so, we propose to set up and office of Faith-Based Institutions that will organize churches to come together and work toward the same cause with the help and supervision of government officials. This is not a new idea as it is seen in many larger cities such as Philadelphia and Baltimore. There are several potential benefits here: smaller churches would benefit by collaborating with other churches for resources and programs and there would be less of an overlap. For example: Walk in the Light Christian Center and the Sacred Heart Food Sharing Program are both food pantries held in the same zip code. If they shared information and pulled their resources together, they could serve the community more efficiently and effectively.
The government would benefit from this project because churches and FBOs are more connected to the community than any other type of organization. More involvement and steady interaction with them would strengthen relationships throughout Camden and would open up many opportunities for business relations, social aspects, economic strategies, etc. With a government official acting as the director of the board and church or FBO leaders holding positions as board members, there would constantly be direct communication between the government and community leaders.