Partnering With Faith-Based Groups Considered

The Corinth Baptist Church's outreach includes a soup kitchen and tutoring for high school students. Members shown working on a craft project are, clockwise from left, Dana Fetter, 15; Byron Smith, 9; youth director Ethel Johnson; Sean Wilson, 12; and tutor Dana Hayden.
The Corinth Baptist Church's outreach includes a soup kitchen and tutoring for high school students. Members shown working on a craft project are, clockwise from left, Dana Fetter, 15; Byron Smith, 9; youth director Ethel Johnson; Sean Wilson, 12; and tutor Dana Hayden. (Photos By Carol Guzy -- The Washington Post)
By Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 25, 2007

Corinth Baptist Church was humming with the sounds of the Sensational Nightingales one recent Sunday afternoon, and people were dancing in the aisles during a fundraising concert that included the Thompson Singers, the Rev. James Flowers and the Flowers Singers, and the church's male chorus.

"Look back over your lives! See where God has brought you," said Jo Jo Wallace, the lead guitarist for the Nightingales. "You need to thank him!"

And give thanks they did, as they prepared to give back to the community. The Rev. Roosevelt Dickens and members of the Capitol Heights church were raising money to build a fellowship hall and finance the church's many community programs to help the poor and the needy.

"Our mission is to save souls, feed the hungry and clothe the naked," missionary Joann Rice said.

The church, with its congregation of 200, has a broad social mandate that includes a soup kitchen, a drug treatment program and a tutoring program for high school students.

From Washington to Annapolis, political leaders are talking about forging new partnerships with faith-based groups to offer services once seen as the domain strictly of the government.

When he was inaugurated last week, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) had a prayer breakfast with a group of religious and community leaders in Greenbelt and pledged greater cooperation from Maryland for religious and community initiatives. O'Malley was not specific but indicated that the state would be rolling out initiatives in the future.

The previous day, Jay Hein, the new director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, met with more than 200 people, including many regional, community and religious leaders, to discuss initiatives and partnerships.

President Bush has long promoted the idea of pouring more federal money into faith-based programs and loosening government restrictions about what types of programs can receive public funds.

Some religious leaders have expressed cautious optimism while continuing to finance their programs through tithes, offerings and fundraising.

"I think with the faith-based community working with us, we can be much more effective in reaching out," Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) said after O'Malley's prayer breakfast.

"I believe that churches can really make a great difference in terms of working with our elected officials to see to it that the needs of our young people are met," said the Rev. Kevin White, pastor of the Church of the Great Commission in Camp Springs.


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