From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Church-based programs transform communities

Date 5 Jun 2002 16:21:42 -0400

Note #7190 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:


Church-based programs transform communities 

PC(USA) is top supporter of urban and rural development efforts

by Jerry L. Van Marter

LOUISVILLE - The Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) Advisory Committee recently allocated $280,000 in grants to 38 church-related community organizations in urban and rural settings around the country.

The grants, funded by the Community Development portion of the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering, reflect the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s commitment to church-based community development, which dates to the 1930s. The PC(USA) is currently the largest denominational supporter of such community organizing.

One of the recent PDA grant recipients is BREAD (Building Responsibility, Equality and Dignity), a five-year old community organization in Columbus, OH, the site of this year's General Assembly, with more than 40 member congregations. "Never before," BREAD leaders say, "have Pentecostals, Catholics, Jews, Baptists, Presbyterians and others come together in such large numbers." 

Three Presbyterian congregations in Columbus - Broad Street, Indianola and Bethany - are members of BREAD, which also has close ties with Scioto Valley Presbytery.
BREAD identified affordable housing as a critical issue in Columbus and formulated a "Jubilee Housing Plan" to: 

* Create a $90 million Affordable Housing Trust Fund for the community;

* Advocate for a zoning ordinance requiring that 10 percent of new housing developments with more than 25 units be set aside for "affordable" housing;

* Lobby for economic incentives such as tax abatements and financing fee waivers to spur development in older downtown neighborhoods.

The city of Columbus has committed $20 million to the trust fund, 
and city officials have been supportive of BREAD's efforts. 

"I applaud BREAD in standing strong on providing housing for those in need," one city council member said. "The responsibility of the government is ... to the least among our citizens."

Efforts BREAD's are being duplicated around the country. More than 4,000 U.S. congregations are involved in more than 200 church-based community organizations. 

Information for this story was furnished by the Rev. Trey Hammond, pastor of La Mesa Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque, NM.
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