Faith-based CD

colist-admin at colist-admin at
Mon Feb 7 15:46:40 CST 2000

[ed:  Thanks to Deirdre, Karen, Rick, and Alma for their discussions 
on faith-based community development.  Other thoughts welcome.]

From: Deirdre Silverman <deirdre at>

I don't know if this takes the discussion too far afield, but you
might want to look at the community development credit union
(CDCU) movement. 40% of CDCUs are faith-based. Harking back to
earlier discussions on this list of how community members are or
are not represented in the governance of CDCs,=  CDCUs are
member-owned, with Boards of Directors generally elected by the
membership. I think that many of the questions listed below would
apply to CDCUs as well as CDCs. A good resource is the National
Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, which has a
Faith-Based Program. Diana Shaw is the Program Officer, and she
can be reached at 800-437-8711, ext 218.


From: karen iobst <kiobst at>

Hello everyone, and Miriam from Shelterforce in particular,

   As a graduate student assistant at the U of Pittsburgh, I am
involved in a group called the Regional Coalition of Community
Builders. This past October we had a conference on Faith-Based
Community Building.  The response was terrific, and attendees
represented a wide variety of organizations (youth, churches,
housing,race relations, social justice, etc.)  

   Our keynote speaker was Mary Nelson, the founder and President
of a large faith-based CDC in Chicago called Bethel New Life. 
She has some great ideas and I would recommend contacting her
directly (phone 773-826-5540.) Her organization does everything
from housing to public safety, workforce development to
enterprise development and environmental protection. She stresses
the need to build strong partnerships, build on neighborhood
capacities, engage residents in planning, use the media to push
for change, and work at the system (rather than project) level to
push for holistic change.  Partnerships with both faith-based and
non faith-based organizations can help in fund development. 

  For the conference we compiled a list of some organizations
that fund religious or faith-based organizations.  I would be
happy to fax you a copy.

  Hope this is helpful.  
Karen Iobst


From: Rick Parkany <rparkany at>

Miriam: here are a couple of references. One is a vignette
detailing the maturation of a community development strategic
plan focussed upon Community Technology Centers from an
institutional to an action research agenda in an Upstate NYS
rustbelt community. The other is an article that outlines the
foundations for the process cited in my vignette. Fair use and
appropriate citations are all that we recommend for
dissemination...    ;-} rap.

Title: Inspiring utilization of evaluation in community
renaissance, neighborhood revitalization, and other economic
development projects across an action research agenda: "It's the
sustainability, stupid!"

Abstract: This representation is designed as a roundtable
discussion. A discussion will follow the presentation of a work
in progress in the genre of a case study and vignette. The case
study represented is an ongoing formative program evaluation of a
non-traditional, community based, educational curriculum
involving social and economic development issues and dimensions.
It tracks the development and maturation of an action research
agenda conducted within the social milieu of neighborhood
revitalization and community renaissance. The setting is a
typical upstate, rust belt, Small City inner core neighborhood in
New York State.

The representational genre, that of a vignette, will track the
transformation of this research agenda from one characterized
initially by a scientific-technical framework (after Holter and
Schwartz-Barcott, 1993), progressing through a transitional
participatory period (after Cousins and Earle, 1995), to finally
one of a participatory emancipatory action research framework
(after Kemmis and MacTaggart, 1988) along a dimension
representing progressively greater primary stakeholder influence
in aspects of program development including design, installation,
and assessment. The presentation will feature how it was that the
infusion of informational, educational, and evaluative
technologies into a matrix of limited resources helped create a
sustainable economic program of community and family based
educational and self-sustainability plans which involved
neighborhood residents in all aspects of strategic planning,
operation, and maintenance of program development resulting
ultimately in the deinstitutionalization of the design and
evaluation framework.


Reference cited in the above work:

Horton, H.D. (1992). A sociological approach to black community
development: Presentation of the black organizational autonomy
model. Journal of the community development society. 23, 1.



In a message dated 2/3/00 10:49:46 AM US Mountain Standard Time, 
colist-admin at writes:

<< To get you started, here are some of the basic questions 
we've come up with:
 *What makes a faith-based CDC different from a secular CDC, if

Not sure. I suspect not much. 

 *What are the unique advantages and challenges of a faith-based

A.  Again, not certain.

 *Are there times when it is a good idea for a congregration  to
start a CDC and times when it is not? What are      those times?

A.  Now I know. It is a good idea when the majority of the
congregation are  residents of the area to be served. It is not a
good idea when the  parishioners are scattered miles from church
(or faith-based center) and have  little personal knowledge of
the service area, its particular - and sometimes  peculiar -
problems, its similiarities, its dichotomies and its links to 
other resources. 

It would also not be a good idea - at least to me - to have a
faith-based  organization (church) decide to start a CDC because
they are desperate for  funds. And of course, a lot of funding
goes to administration: staff,  utilities, etc. I have approached
churches in my area who are in the red  because of dwindling
membership. Many of those want to know what WE are going  to
bring in terms of dollars. Not one so far has ventured to tap
into their  own foundations for money to run partnership

 *Are there value collisions or dilemmas on a local level 
similar to the Campaign for Human Development's new    
stringency in making its grantees adhere to Catholic doctrines?

A.  I think so. One church 'welcomed' me to make an address to
its governing  body regarding a partnership proposal. At the end
of my presentation, I was  asked about my - and my group's -
morals. Another church made it clear that  they needed no one
outside their own dying - literally - congregation because  they
were the only church strictly abiding by Christ's 'truth.' Yet
another  church called and asked to meet because they wanted to
be more involved.  After a meeting and a tour of the area (not
pretty) they never called again.  The large Catholic church only
ventures a call a few weeks before the  deadline for a certain
grant which they cannot get without the neighborhood  group;
otherwise they are too busy to accommodate our requests for
meeting space and never get around to talking partnerships. 
 Are these fruitful questions? What else on this topic would be
 helpful to you in your work?

A.  I would like to hear more about others' answers to #'s 1 & 2.
I also  think you should ask WHY a church or other faith-based
organization thinks it  should get into a CDC. The answer should
be compatible with the reasons given  by the service area
residents. Do-good reasons, e.g., "to help the  unfortunate,"
"because it is the Christian thing to do," or the unspoken, " 
because it will help build our congregation" are not good
reasons. At least  to me and to the people in the neighborhood
that I work with.  

Truthfully, I would like to see a CDC that is composed of
residents and  others in the service area, including churches,
businesses and perhaps even  schools as partners. Anyone know of
any such animal?

 -Miriam >>

Alma Williams 
Green Gables Neighborhood Association 
P.O. Box 15620 
Phoenix, AZ 85060
Ph. 602-954-4589
Fax 602-954-8774

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